We are counting down the Top 40 articles published in Leadership Journal’s 36-year history, and we conclude with this one, Lee Eclov’s masterful reflection on one of the fundamentals of ministry.
In her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gilead, Marilynne Robinson's fictional narrator is an elderly pastor named John Ames living in the small Iowa town of Gilead. His best friend, Boughton, is also a pastor in that town. They are so close that Boughton names his son after his friend: John Ames Boughton. But the boy grows up to be a disappointment—a scoundrel and a disgrace to his name.
As his father is dying, that prodigal son comes home to visit. Things don't go well, and he decides it is best just to slip out of town. Pastor John, his namesake, meets up with him and walks him to the bus depot. He gives the younger man a little money and they wait for the bus. Here's what happens next:
Then I said, "The thing I would like, actually, is to bless you."
He shrugged. ...1