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Early events shape a lifetime of ministry.

Casual curiosity suddenly became a preoccupation. Nearing graduation from seminary, I had come upon statistics on the duration of the first pastorate for recent graduates. The average had been just over two years. And that included a few who had stayed much longer.

Why were these pastors, so full of excitement and so well trained, hitting a wall after only a couple of years in their first parish? Was their inexperience the culprit? Or was it the fault of all those churches ripping unsuspecting graduates to shreds?

My "just about to graduate with only one church casually looking at me" anxiety was increased by my finding. What if my first church is a scarring experience? When that one-and-only call came, I accepted. After all, that church was rather lonely in its interest in me, so how hard did I have to search for God's will? I did resolve, however, that I would not make my contribution to the brief-tenure statistics.

After all, I reasoned, I'm a man of good training, high energy, excellent ...

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