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Are You Seasoned or Rotting in Ministry?

I used to cut firewood every autumn with my Dad.  We would drive the tractor into the woods bordering the fields of my grandparents’ farm. 

He would cut the trees, and I would split them and load them onto the old makeshift wagon my grandfather had built from plywood and an old axle. Once we got our loads up to the house and finished all the splitting, the firewood ended up in the barn for months before it ended up in the fireplace.

The wood had to season. 

Those freshly cut oak and hickory logs would only smoke and smolder in the fireplace with all that moisture locked in their grains. Left in the barn over time, though, the pores and fibers would loosen with the gradual release of stored water. 

A good fire in the hearth takes seasons to develop.

“Seasoned”—this is a term we sometimes apply to people who have persisted over time in their vocation, to those who have endured the ups and downs, the dry and wet, the hot and cold. Consistent exposure to the elements over time…that’s what we mean by seasoned.

The seasoned minister has endured the business meetings, the hospital visits, the beautiful weddings, the somber funerals. Laboring over the texts throughout the church calendar, maintaining fellowship in the face of potential schism, fielding complaints both legitimate and illegitimate—seasoned.

But such exposure can also leave us rotten.

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After several years in pastoral ministry, Andy is now working on his PhD in New Testament at Durham University in England. He blogs at Hopeful Realism [www.abyers.wordpress.com] and his first book is Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint.