Just over a year ago, I gave up professional ministry.

 

It was one of, if not the hardest thing I ever did in my life.

 

Outside of a certain community of reference, no one really cared.

 

Life went on.

 

Disturbingly so.

 

 

It wasn’t disturbing in the same way as when someone close to you dies.  When that happens, you get a decent window of pity from others.  People give you a benefit to your circumstance.  However, deciding to no longer move forward with what was thought to be your life’s ambition, with over 17 years of preparation and schooling, you are lucky to get any reaction from non-church communities of reference.

I would like to say that I made my decision, but it was more of an inevitable agreement of my words with what my heart had been telling me for a few years.  The stress was just too much.  My weight kept going up and had reached over 400 lbs.  My blood pressure was no longer just above the “too high” mark.  The mask that hid depression wore thin.  It’s not that I was no longer called, it was that I could no longer cope.

Marideth's BaptismIronically, my daughter was baptized this previous Sunday, the one year anniversary of my giving up professional ministry.

In the year since I made the decision, I have had more ministry impact than in all my years as a pastor combined.  Some of it is within the walls of the church, but I would estimate that 85% + is outside the building.  It’s a bit funny that I am able to do more ministry than while being a pastor.  Part of that is that I belong to a great church, led by an awesome pastoral staff.  Part of that is that I no longer feel pressure to do ministry, knowing that my effectiveness at ministry somehow helps pay the bills.

It had been a bittersweet experience.

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