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From the beginning, my relationship with my new boss faltered. Just out of seminary, I had ventured with my wife from the security of our Southern California heritage to my first pastoral opportunity-a university ministry in a Pittsburgh church. Unfortunately, I arrived as a 26-year-old assistant pastor who had all the answers.

Right off I decided the senior pastor's approach was a relic of a bygone era. His early-fifties' ministry model expected the clergy to do the ministry while the congregation acted as grateful recipients. I knew the truth-that pastors are to entrust the laity with ministry and work themselves out of a job.

Though Doug, my boss, conveyed warmth, deep compassion, even charisma, he remained cautious and aloof by design, forming no personal friendships within the congregation. Too much familiarity would undermine pastoral authority, he was taught. In contrast, I wanted to be vulnerable and transparent, allowing God's people to see the real, weak me.

I could recount other ...

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