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Ten years ago, I stood at my ordination reception, shaking hands with the well-wishers. Near the end of the long line, a church elder congratulated me. Then, he stooped to greet my 4-year-old daughter, whose hand I held.
"Do you know what we're celebrating, today, Kelly?" he asked.
"Today is the day they make my daddy king," she replied.
We laughed. However, I glowed inwardly. She voiced what may have been close to my ministry expectations.
I'll be liked by people, I thought during my years of ministry preparation. They'll be grateful for my help; they'll rise up and call me blessed.
My upbringing reinforced my beliefs: my father was a Christian college professor, my brother a youth pastor, and my brother-in-law a pastor. Ministry was elevated above all other careers. Certainly God would be pleased that I had not chosen another calling.
In the midst of my euphoria, though, I heard the whisper of a subtle fear: What if they rise up, not to bless me, but to leave me? What if I fail? What if my performance doesn't please God?
I ignored my whispered fear. It was drowned out in the clamor of pursuing the dream.
Eight years after my ordination, I sat in the office of a good friend who had gone into counseling. Recalling his seminary training, I asked, "Have you ever thought seriously about becoming a pastor, Dan?"
"I would rather be stripped naked, tied down in a field, covered with honey, and devoured by red ants," he shot back.
We laughed. Inside, however, I wasn't laughing. The dreams about being king had long ago evaporated. I wondered if Dan's red-ant option wasn't more attractive than what I had experienced.
The gauge on my emotional tank showed empty. I was running on fumes. I couldn't service the endless line of people in my congregation needing my expertise. I was like Robert Conrad in the old Eveready(r) commercial, daring the church members to knock my battery off my shoulder.
But I kept putting the battery back on. When someone said this or ...