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Ministry's Deadly Undertow

Did Jesus ever say to himself, "Oh, no! Not him again"? Maybe not, but I sure have.

As the associate pastor of care and counseling for our church, I'm immersed every day in what I refer to as the deadly d's—death, depression, distress, debt, disease, church discipline, divorce, and general disobedience.

In the summer of 1998, the deadly d's almost drowned me.

I was called as a growing church plant's first associate pastor. I began with varied responsibilities. As we grew and added more staff, I delegated many of my duties to focus on counseling. I was honing in on my passion. But I soon discovered that the accumulated weight of other people's burdens made full-time counseling much more difficult than part-time.

That summer, the weight was pulling me under. I was carrying too many burdens, and I felt wounded as criticism and conflict shook my confidence. I'd seen anxiety and had heard others describe panic attacks, but this time I was the anxiety-ridden one. My heart was racing, my body shaking. ...

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