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I think Simon and Garfunkel described the feeling of some pastors today when they sang, "When you're weary, feeling small." (Interestingly, the words come from "Bridge over Troubled Waters," an apt metaphor for much of pastoral ministry.)

The weariness I see among some clergy is not usually full-fledged burnout. It's the slow buildup, like wax on a kitchen floor, of too many evening meetings, too many conflicts, too few days off.

The "feeling small" comes out in conversations. Recently I was with two pastors who serve vital congregations-one of 300, one of about 200 people. According to the church-growth statisticians, these two ministers would be the envy of 90 percent of America's pastors. But they don't feel that way.

One said, "Our church is only about 200." The other said, apologetically, "We're just a small church." Something about their demeanor said, "I'm just a pastor of just a small church."

I thought about the conversation later, and the more I did, the more ...

May/June
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