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From First Chair to Second Fiddle

Your calling to ministry may lead from senior pastor to associate.

Approaching our graduation from seminary, my husband and I took the pastor of our church to lunch and asked if he had any advice as we prepared to start our ministry journey.

He responded without hesitation, "Don't be a ladder climber."

Nick's wise words have never left us. Yet while many in ministry would profess agreement with his advice, we live in a culture that expects upward progress. And in pastoral ministry, that climb leads to the senior pastorate.

In some churches, only the top dog is even referred to as "pastor." After several years on ministry staff as an associate, my husband received his first opportunity to preach to the entire congregation. When we got home after the service, we found a message on our answering machine: "That was such a great sermon, I was wondering: have you ever thought about being a pastor?"

The senior pastor role is typically equated with the greatest opportunity for authority and impact. But is it?

A recent online poll by a major newspaper found that, in ...

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