As of just this month, Cascade Books has released the book I coauthored with my colleague Kurt Fredrickson: That Their Work Will Be a Joy: Understanding and Coping With the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. (Kurt and I actually went to high school together, though we didn’t know each other at the time. And of course, he’s way older.) Amazon doesn’t have it up yet, but for now you can find it here, at the publisher’s website, at an Internet-only discount (for some strange reason, they have us listed as editors rather than authors). We’re also told that a Kindle edition is in the works.
This is a subject I’ve been writing about for over 20 years. The title is taken from a passage in the book of Hebrews:
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. (Heb 13:17, NIV)
Congregations are supposed to be local manifestations of the body of Christ–but they’re filled with fallible people. You know, folks like you and me. As Kurt is fond of saying, it can get messy. And sometimes, for pastors, what should be the joy of ministering in Christ’s name starts to be obscured by the burden of ministry’s more stressful side.
Other books, of course, have been written about ministry stress. Ours deals with topics like the nature of stress and burnout, the meaning of vocation, the nature of the church, self-care, conflict, and the challenges that face pastors’ families. At the center is a plea for the importance of Sabbath rest, something which many pastors never seem to get.
Beyond this, two things make our approach unique. First, each chapter ends with a practical three-part postscript, in which we address pastors, congregations, and seminarians separately, making direct applications of key concepts. Second, the book ends with twelve letters written by our friends and colleagues in the ministry, who were all asked to read the manuscript and write a personal response addressed to our readers. The letters are by turns insightful, funny, and poignant.
We pray that God will use the book for the benefit of both pastors and congregations. We would appreciate your prayers along the same lines.
And when possible, if you’re so inclined, a gushing, glowingly positive review on Amazon wouldn’t hurt either…!