Is it possible to survive in pastoral ministry without being a kind of celebrity? Mark Driscoll, who has held both roles for a several years, says just the opposite. For him, the two are incompatible.

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He is right, of course. Pressure to live up to this insane expectation is the primary reason clergy are dropping like flies from pastoral ministry. It’s time we divorced the ideas of celebrity and spiritual shepherd once and for all.

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Every leader is a story-teller, and every church is living a story—whether they realize it or not.

The story you tell about yourself rises from your vision for the world, and it largely determines the way people respond to you. You are enacting your perception of a larger conflict, a story of either victory or defeat.

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The good news is that you can choose your own story. Here’s how.

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The Grand Canyon State has been in the news because the legislature recently voted to amend a law with the effect that business owners can decline to serve gay people if doing would violate their religious beliefs. The bill is now awaiting action by Arizona governor Jan Brewer.

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Presumably this change in Arizona law was occasioned by some notable cases where people, including a baker and a photographer, declined to offer their services for gay weddings.

If the governor signs the bill, which is opposed by LGBT rights advocates, any person could refuse to serve another if motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, and if doing so would substantially burden the exercise of that belief.

The idea seems to be that religious people should not be compelled to violate their conscience by state law.

As a conservative Christian myself, I’m all for that.

I knew a hotel manager who politely refused to staff the hotel bar because he objected to the consumption of alcohol. And I’ve known many medical people who declined to dispense birth control or perform abortions because of their religious convictions.

Certainly we need legal protection for people of conscience.

Yet if I were a baker, I would sell cake to anyone.

Here’s why.

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Most pastors know what they want to do, they just don’t know how to do it.

In other words, they usually know the answer to the first two of Andy Stanley’s leadership questions, but not the third. What are we doing? (Making disciples of Jesus Christ.) Why are we doing it? (Because Jesus is the hope of the world.)

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Pastors get up every morning with that fire in their belly.

What’s less clear is the answer to Stanley’s third question: Where do I fit in?

Many pastors struggle to define their leadership style. They don’t know their unique role or contribution in the church.

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“I love Jesus, I just don’t like church.” Anyone who has ever been part of a local congregation has probably felt that way. Christianity in its abstract form is a beautiful faith based on the perfect life of Christ. In reality, it’s a bunch of imperfect people, doing their best to follow a high calling while stepping on each other’s toes almost constantly.

It is challenging to be part of a local congregation. That may be why so many Christians are quitting going to church.

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Most recently, Donald Miller expressed a similar view, saying, I think, that he simply doesn’t connect with God through the things we usually do at church, namely singing, preaching.

I have felt that way myself.

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If you’re thinking about entering a doctoral program, I’ve got news for you. You probably won’t finish. Most people who begin a Ph.D. or similar degree never hear the word doctor in front of their name. The attrition rate is around 50 percent.

There are good reasons for that, and most of them apply to projects other than completing a doctorate. Finishing a book, sailing around the world, graduating from college, and even being married are all harder than they look.

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You have to count the cost before you begin.

The good news is that you can beat the odds and be successful in this. You can do this if you can say yes to all six of these questions.

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Super Bowl XLVIII was a huge disappointment to the faithful in Denver and the legion of Peyton Manning fans everywhere. The Seattle Seahawks trounced the Broncos 43-8.

This anticlimactic result isn’t unique. The Super Bowl is always a letdown, no matter who plays or wins. That’s inevitable, given the spectacle it has become.

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Many people find church a frustration too, and for exactly the same reasons.

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