Some tensions in the very fabric of ministry:

1. Pouring your life into building a community that can never be truly yours–that you must one day leave behind “no strings attached” to pave the way for the next settled minister.

2. The growth of the community depending upon the size and clarity of your vision, but the wear and tear of life in community–at the very least, the intense busy-ness of it–continually threatens to contract the vision and make it smaller, fuzz it out.

3. The community looks to the minister for leadership, and yet only as more and more people see the work of ministry as theirs–only as more and more staff see the work of ministry as shared–does the community MOVE and LIVE.

4. Living always in the face of possible “explosions” and “earthquakes” (e.g. a conflict coming at you from left field, an additional urgent task, a death, something else) and yet it is critical to remain nonanxious, positive, cautiously optimistic.

5. Staying firmly grounded in your own story and your own truth, and yet (by virtue of being in a covenantal relationship with hundreds of people) you are challenged to speak to hundreds of different stories and hundreds of different truths.

5. Staying joyful, even as the work is often so serious and so filled with death, tragedy, political agendas, control and authority issues, and on and on–things that can turn a saint cynical.

How to make these tensions creative–a source of growth and life?

At the end of the day, I believe that ministry, unlike anything else, places a person directly into the stream of life. “Joy and woe woven fine, clothing for the soul divine.” To do ministry, there must be a commitment to compassion, and compassion felt fully. Trust that the universe can take whatever one’s offering happens to be, however imperfect, and turn it into some good.

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