I’ve wanted to get my hands on J. R. Briggs’s book since the moment I saw it advertised. We pastors are barraged with glossy brochures hustling pricey confabs that promise to increase our ministry, our budget, our reputation, our salary, our happiness, and our good looks. Just pay through the nose to attend the conference and copy the techniques of the handsome folks on the brochure.
In the blog-o-sphere, pastors like to complain. Mainly, because this is a good space for it. Where else can church leaders vent? Also, it's good to strategize here. But I also love to remember just how good I've got it. I know some of these sound trite. I know they sound silly. But they are the things that make me really happy and fulfiled.
“You have to grow tougher skin, Carol,” my colleague told me when I invited him to lunch and asked for his advice on a church matter. I inhaled deeply. That was the same response I heard repeatedly for the first ten years of my pastorate. Whenever I got frustrated, well-meaning friends and colleagues would tell me that I needed to miraculously grow some sort of Teflon epidermis.
After a couple of years of sweating over each syllable, I suddenly needed the words. I hungered to write them. On vacations, my family urged me to take a break and I
became cranky. What happened? How did the words begin to grow like wildflowers
that I no longer had to coddle?
Since I left parish ministry almost two years ago, the oddest question I have been asked is, "What do you preach about now that you have left the church?" The people who ask tend to be deeply involved in their communities of faith. Many are clergy or denominational officers, while others supply the volunteer hours upon which any community depends.
The second best-selling book on campuses these days is Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht’s straight-faced but not unhumorous The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook (Chronicle). The back cover alerts readers, “Caution: Book will explode if scanned.” It is “the indispensable, indestructible guide for surviving life’s sudden turns for the worse.
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