The Exacting Price of Ministry

Pastoral ministry demands a high emotional investment, especially in times of tension, and sometimes you wonder if there's a return.
—Marshall Shelley

William Barclay defined a saint as "someone whose life makes it easier to believe in God." For a pastor caught in the middle of conflict, it's easy to question whether you're doing any good for God at all. You find yourself questioning not only your effectiveness in ministry but also your own standing with God. The biblical command to "make your calling and election sure" is never more difficult than amid relationship distemper.

Even in the best of times, pastoral ministry demands a high emotional investment, and sometimes you wonder if there's a return. With the addition of conflict, you're tempted to conclude ministry is a total loss.

Not long ago, 1 sat with Kevin Miller, then Leadership senior associate editor, on a park bench in downtown Denver, and together we listened to a pastor describe his first two years in his congregation. This ...

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