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When Everything Is Going Right

Leading a church during its zenith, like coaching a successful basketball team, is an odyssey, an adventurous combination of pain and joy.
— Leith Anderson

Recently a pastor flew to Minneapolis just to meet with me for two hours. Near the end of our conversation, he asked, "What is it like to be successful?"

His question caught me by surprise, because I, like most pastors, live with the day-to-day reality of local church ministry: I don't think of myself as successful.

In 1992, after the Chicago Bulls had won their second straight nba championship, head coach Phil Jackson was asked about the difference between the first championship season and the second.

"Last year it was a honeymoon," said Jackson. "This year it was an odyssey."

The ecstasy of coaching the Bulls' first championship had been followed by the anguish of leading them to repeat their success. The Bulls' squad, led by Michael Jordan, was essentially intact from the previous season. But their burning passion to win, which they had ...

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