Many of the recent articles about clergy burnout suggested that it's a symptom of cognitive dissonance: pastors think their job ought to be a particular kind of work and are frustrated when it ends up involving something else. None of the media coverage, however, offered a compelling description of the call to ministry itself.
Over the years, I have kept coming back to the
words of Edwin Friedman, “Stress comes less from overwork than from
taking responsibility for the problems of others.” We can adapt these
words for church finance: “Stress comes less from money challenges than
from taking responsibility for the money problems of others.”
As yet another megachurch pastor grabs national headlines for alleged sexual indiscretions, I’m tempted to skip the story entirely. I’d rather pretend that the civil lawsuits accusing Bishop Eddie Long of sexual misconduct don’t concern me.
What must it have been like to encounter the earthly Jesus, to meet him
as he went about his ministry? When the gospels attempt to share
something of this with us, they are no doubt hindered by the
impossibility of rendering such an experience in words. But a common
refrain in the gospels describes Jesus as "speaking with authority."
William Robeson, a former slave and father of civil rights leader and singer Paul Robeson, became pastor of the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1879. After 21 years of service, white members of the presbytery forced him out because of his outspoken efforts to end racism and repeal Jim Crow laws in Princeton. The congregation had to sell the manse due to loss of funding. The church repurchased the manse in 2005 and turned it into the Paul Robeson House, a meeting place to advance human rights. In an act of racial reconciliation, the Synod of the Northeast is clearing the debt of $175,000 that remains on the mortgage held by the congregation (PCUSA, November 13).