Early in my ministry I heard Bill Laws, an experienced pastor, denominational leader and mentor, say it takes a full five years to learn enough about a congregation to be an effective pastor. After five years, Bill said, your ministry begins and you will be trusted enough to do meaningful work. He was speaking at what was my first pastors’ retreat. Like others in the group of young colleagues, all of us in our first full-time positions, I was eager to get on, move up and find something more expansive and promising. We argued with Bill. Our small congregations weren’t going anywhere. We were all eager to move. Five years seemed like an eternity.