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The way we view our task makes all the difference in the world--and in the church.

I was kneeling on the steps of the chancel with several hands laid on my shoulder. The occasion was my ordination into the ministry, and the pastor was praying a seemingly interminable prayer for God's blessings and power to be upon me. My legs had started to cramp. Sweat was soaking through my black robe, a garment whose origins were in Northern Europe, and whose wearer was in Southern California on a balmy May evening. And my knees felt like they were piercing the scarlet carpet.

Does he think I need more prayer than usual? I thought. Then, as if in answer to my question, he prayed, "Lord, as Ben feels the weight of these hands upon his shoulders, may he feel the weight of what he has been called to do."


"But may he feel also the strength of your everlasting arms bearing him up."

Amen and amen!

That is what ministry has been like ever since: an impossible, unbearable job accompanied by an improbable, inexplicable strength.

The apostle Paul took inventory of his vocation and asked, "Who ...

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