It was an inauspicious meeting, really. It took place in the corner booth at a Burger King. He, in his early 70s, a veteran pastor and church leader. Me, a young Bible college graduate and soon-to-be pastor. I was serving as a volunteer youth pastor at a struggling church in the Chicago suburbs and he was the interim, brought in to stabilize the congregation during a period of turmoil and decline.

I wasn't really sure why I called Bill and asked for a meeting. I told my wife it was simply to "get on the same page" with the senior pastor of the church I was serving. But I had other motivations. I was contemplating a full-time call to the pastorate, but casting out for better leadership examples than what I had seen modeled in my previous ministry experience. I also knew that Bill had influence over the church's search committee and … if a miracle occurred and he liked me, maybe he'd put my name in the hat.

I didn't telegraph that intention in our conversations, but I did honestly share ...

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