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Church Leadership, Part 2 – Caring For Widows

In addition to the qualifications for church overseers like elders and deacons discussed in my previous article, 1 Timothy 5: 3-16 gives instructions concerning widows. “Honor widows who are truly widows…She who is truly a widow, left all alone…If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.”  One of the main points of this section of scripture is that if a widow has no family member to take care of her, the local church should see this as an opportunity for ministry. Notice the emphasis, “left all alone.”

It is significant that the reason why the first “elders or deacons” were chosen in the first century church was because widows were being neglected. Acts 6:1-4 records, “Now in those days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose against the Hebrews because a group of widows was being neglected in the daily distribution.”

Caring for neglected widows who have no one to tend to them is an implied responsibility of the local church, or at least a parachurch organization. Notice the words in the above passage. As much as possible let a family member take care of them, “let not the church be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.”

How much of a need is there for giving focused attention to widows? I did some research. There are over 11 million widows in the United States alone, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 59 is the average age (Rethinking65).

Only 2 percent of widows remarry. Many live with family members or in a community with seniors where they can receive emotional or financial support. Social security or a good retirement has made it possible for some widows to live alone, but here we aee focusing on those widows who may be alone and neglected. My wife and I have helped a widow living alone whose complaint was that no one in the church in which she was a member ever came to visit her. According to the National Bureau of Economic/consumer Research, by 1990 there were 62 percent of widows living alone (consumerfinance.gov).

Even though widows living alone may be doing well financially, they may not be doing well emotionally. There can be loneliness combined with grief over the loss of their spouse. There is a condition called, “grieving widow syndrome.” A 2013 study revealed that people had a 66 percent increased mortality risk within the first 90 days of losing their spouse (VeryWellmind).

What could happen if some local congregations had a ministry focused on widows “left all alone?”  And not only as members of a church, but in the community-someone who cares enough to at least drop by on a regular basis just to be there for them, and to minister to their emotional and spiritual needs. What about a church helping provide financial support?  The opportunities are unlimited. This can be a focus for church leadership.

About John Clark

John Livingston Clark is 74 years of age and lives in central Washington State. He has written two published books, and two published poems. His initial book is called, " God's Healing Hope: Breaking the Strongholds of Wrong Thinking." His second book, released in December of 2016, is a motivational book written to seniors titled, " Seniors: Are You Retiring or Recharging?" Both books are available on amazon. You can also view his writings on www.faithwriters.com. His “Poem For Senior Citizens” is in the 5th spot on FW.

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One comment

  1. So true John
    Valuable info and having been around widows and widowers, this is a pertinent and important message.
    God Bless~

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