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The Prince Turned Pauper

There is no fiercer hell than the failure in a great object.
John Keats

Not one of the scores of young couples I have counseled prior to their wedding expected their marriage to fail. Others' maybe, but not theirs. After all, they loved each other. They, of all couples, would stay together.

Yet, some have divorced.

In the same way, no pastor kneels at ordination — those many hands conferring God's strength — expecting to fail in ministry, or even to stumble. Certainly mistakes are possible. Yes, other pastors have taken a tumble. But not this pastor! No, this one loves the Lord. He is called into ministry. She is gifted by the Spirit. Everything appears promising.

Yet just such pastors — devout, earnest, gifted, prayerful — wind up removing their certificate of ordination from the wall and scanning the help-wanted ads in the Sunday paper. They have committed seemingly fatal errors, and their ministry died aborning. Left with a heavy bookshelf and a heavier heart, they wonder, What did I do ...

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September
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