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A Spirituality of Exhaustion

This summer has been no different than any of the other summers experienced in the decade I’ve spent as a youth minister: campfire smoke, bug spray, a few thousand miles packed sardine-style inside rental vans, silly bands (this year both on the radio and on teenagers’ wrists), mandatory abuse reporting, saggy twin mattresses, sultry summer heat, teenage (and adult) drama, work gloves, water bottles, revelations of church happenings received via smartphone or email (or not received at all), and at least a hundred daily activities sandwiched between early-morning meditations and late-night giggly conversations.

Understandably, after three weeks of camp, a week-long youth mission trip, extra out-of-town meetings, a couple sermons and a few Sunday School classes squeezed in for good measure, I am exhausted.

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Minister or Fraud?

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Over the course of the past ten years, my cache of ministerial experience has changed in so many ways. I’ve served in four different ministry settings, learned how to navigate my denomination’s search and call process, finished seminary, been ordained, written and/or edited two books, fallen in love with group after group worth of kids and their families, and fallen in love with preaching the Good News. Through a theological lens, I have been fruitful – and through the lens of the world, I’ve even been moderately successful. But I’ve never been able to enjoy that fruitfulness or success.

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