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The staff sat silent. Jim, our senior pastor, was reading the letter of resignation he would present to the board that night. When he finished, my throat was tight. Had I tried to speak, I would have broken into tears. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see our children's director trying not to cry, too.

I'd been afraid this was going to happen. It had been a rough year for Jim-a rough six years, actually. A month before, though, we had gone to lunch, and he'd said he had turned down the most recent overture from somewhere else.

The meeting closed quickly. As I left the room, I couldn't look at him.

I can't believe it, I thought. This is the second time in my seven years here that my senior pastor has departed.

It was my birthday, too. "Happy birthday, Len," I said out loud as I started the car to drive home.

I know some of my colleagues in other churches would look at the resignation of their senior pastor as a wonderful gift from the Lord. Not so here. We were a close staff. We laughed ...

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