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To Be a Pastor Is to Know Betrayal

Apprenticing Jesus in a cruciform call.
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To Be a Pastor Is to Know Betrayal
Image: Edits by Christianity Today. Sources: Getty / Ilbusca / Max Dannenbaum / Stringer / Wikimedia Commons

Early in my ministry, an older priest told me that, for a season of her own ministry, she had taken a break from church. I thought this was odd for a priest—maybe even wrong. She didn’t defend herself to me. She only explained that she and her family had been so damaged by parish ministry that they had needed a season to heal before they could resume public ministry in good faith.

What struck me as odd in my early years of ministry today seems unsurprising. When I count the pastors I’ve watched closely over the past decade—from various denominations and generations—a significant majority of them have experienced gut-wrenching pain at the hands of people in their churches.

Ministry is never easy, but it’s always personal. Those of us who serve and lead the church are on the frontlines of dealing with human brokenness—and we often have scars to prove it.

The call to pastor is a call to love. We give more to our work than a set of skills or techniques—we ...

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