WHEN I WAS THIRTY-FIVE, I was asked to be host for a well-known preacher who was the featured guest at a conference. My job was to transport him to and from his speaking engagements. During one session of the conference, this "pulpit prince" said that most ministers he knew lived with a deep sense of desperation.
That statement did not square with what I knew of my acquaintances and friends who were pastors. Was he simply using hyperbole?
Later, when we were in the car together, I asked him to elaborate on his comment. As I listened intently, it became clear to me that desperation was a factor not only in the lives of his friends but occasionally visited his own soul as well. At the time, I simply could not grasp the concept of desperation, much less why someone of his stature would struggle with it.
I do now.
He was nearly fifty years old, and, without intending to, he summed up the spiritual plight of the middle-aged pastor—loneliness of soul.
Mid-life can bring a string of losses, and these ...1