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CULTIVATING CLOSENESS

Above all else, pastors need fresh and frequent experiences of God's presence.

After I finished seminary in the late 1950s, I organized a new church in Gulfport, Mississippi. From one perspective, it was a huge success. With rapid growth, a new building, and suburban prosperity, the church was the Cinderella of our conference.

But increasingly I was miserable. I felt like an organization man, not a man of God. In the midst of a thriving church setting, I felt far from God. For a, while I thought seriously about leaving the ministry.

In retrospect, I see I was running on my own power, relying on my own resources. But I didn't know how to do otherwise. There was no question about my commitment to Christ or my call to preach. It was a matter of power, spiritual power: the inner resources for living with a strength not my own. My relationship with God was hardly more than a formality.

Few things are as hollow as a relationship intended for passion that instead is marked by mere duty. When the heat of a couple's romance and honeymoon is cooled by concerns over mortgage payments, ...

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