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A Secret to Longevity in Ministry

People are fascinating.

After 17 wonderfully hard years of ministry at the same church doing the same thing week after week — preaching the word of God and talking with people — something dawned on me: People are fascinating.

As a pastor, I get to hear people’s life stories. It’s rather incredible the kind of information people just walk up and tell me. And, it’s an honor to hear it.

For 17 years, I have met people every week from all stages of life, backgrounds, incomes, experiences, nations and perspectives. Television pales in comparison to real people with real lives and real stories. Nothing is as interesting as the honesty of seemingly average people. The truth is, there is no average person. Everyone is unique, interesting and surprising.

As one example, I recently had three people walk up to me, introduce themselves, and unpack their life without prompting.

The joyful, the devastating and the hopeful

The first was a young couple, married just that week, who were filled with joy and hope and covered with smiles. They were holding hands and asking for prayer. I laid hands on them both and prayed for them with great hope and joy. They closed their eyes, but I snuck a peek to see the big smiles on their face as they leaned toward one another very much in love. I was overjoyed.

The next was someone who that same week received divorce papers from their spouse of many years and was asking for prayer through tears. I encouraged them as best I could, and tried not to push too deeply as they were on the brink of completely losing it and struggling to maintain composure amid the crowd. I was devastated.