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In my twenty years of ordained ministry, the word professional has been both friend and foe.

With my colleagues I have enjoyed more legitimacy for days off and days on, regular paychecks, standards for salaries, and clergy journals. I have benefited from clinical pastoral training and concepts such as boundaries, self-differentiation, and rescuing. I picked up a second language, that of psychology, which, added to theology, has been useful. Bounded and bordered relationships can be like a good garden. They look better and feel better and grow better.

I have learned other languages: staffing, time management, and programming. I have learned sociological types for congregations, the pastor-centered and the program-centered and the like. I have learned organizational dynamics: that at certain levels of worship attendance, for example, congregations are poised for different behaviors.

Professionalism has been good. It has also been an enemy, an insect boring out the tree from within.

My ministry ...

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