Posted by: morgan1965 | August 24, 2014

The Lone Ranger & Tonto: A Partnership Model for Clergy

The August/September/October issue of the “Circuit Rider” a professional journal for clergy published by the United Methodist Publishing House, has an article titled, “Peril: No Lone Rangers Allowed.” This is an excellent article about the need for pastors to partner with the laity in their effort to provide pastoral care for a congregation where the counseling needs are usually multiple. The author of the article talks about one pastor who finally realized that he alone could not provide for all that the congregation needed from their pastoral leader and shepherd. He had not previously recruited and trained lay pastoral care providers. The author further illustrates how her congregation has been recruiting and training Congregational Care Ministers. 

The title of the article, however, implies that the pastor is a “loner” when it comes to the matter of providing pastoral care. There have been other similar articles in other publications and blogs. I fully agree that no pastor today should attempt to carry the pastoral care responsibilities of a congregation alone. The author suggests that the pastor is a “Lone Ranger.” 

I always find it interesting when the term “Lone Ranger” is used to describe a certain style of leadership that ignores all the dynamics of partnership, mutuality and cooperation.  Perhaps this is because I am an avid fan of the Lone Ranger series that ran first on radio and then on television. 

The traditional Lone Ranger was the lone survivor when he and a group of fellow Texas Rangers were ambushed by a group of outlaws. He made a personal decision to blaze a new trail of justice and peace by working to overcome the lawlessness in the then emerging Western frontier. He became known as the Lone Ranger because he was the lone survivor, not because he worked alone. 

The Lone Ranger had a faithful partner, Tonto, and together they worked for justice. They were sometimes assisted by the Lone Ranger’s nephew, Dan Reid. The Lone Ranger always would communicate with the local sheriff, and make an effort to work in partnership with the local sheriff and other law abiding local citizens. Although active, his tendency was to stay in the background. He was not a ‘Loner.” 

To be sure, there is no place for “loners” in ministry; however, I do not choose to identify any such “loner” as a “Lone Rangers.” They are “loners.” 

Think about it!


  1. Bishop… Thanks for pointing out the misuse of this metaphor! I can’t think of a single successful and/or healthy loner. I’m sure the comic book world would give us one or two but even they are troubled or tortured souls – Peter Parker as Spiderman comes to mind. I’m sure there are others in that genre. Thanks for your wisdom.

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