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Leadership JournalStaying your course amid the forces of ministry.
Winter 1998

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Beating the Pastoral Blues



I was finally honest with myself: I hated the ministry. I was tired of the lies, the pretending, the guilt, the expectations. I wanted out.

I'm sorry, God, I prayed. I gave it my best shot. I tried to do it in your power. It didn't work.

Ten years ago, full of zeal, my wife, Geri, and I had begun ministry with the vision to plant churches among the poor in New York City and around the world. Now, four children later, Geri was battle-weary and wanted a life, a marriage. So did I. Between the need to build the church and the feeling of responsibility for other people, I had little energy to parent my children and to enjoy Geri.

My spiritual foundation had finally been revealed for what it was—wood, hay, and stubble. I limped along for years. It took depression, anger, crying, and blaming myself for every mistake in the church to push me to take a three-month sabbatical. My time away from my congregation forced me to four unpleasant conclusions about myself. But realizing them was an essential step toward regaining my soul and regaining hope and joy in ministry.

I tended to lie a lot

Last night I negotiated with an associate pastor about his planting a church from one of our church plants. We spent hours exploring the real issues behind my associate's frustrations: he wanted to plant the church ahead of our timetable, and his philosophy of ministry didn't parallel ours.

I hated the meeting.

In the past, I would have told myself the meeting was going well, even though it wasn't. I would have manipulated a way for the situation to be a win/win for the pastor and our church. This time, I didn't. I was honest with him about what I felt were his shortcomings and about the fact he may have to leave the church.

This was new to me, and ...



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