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We invited priests and pastors from across the country to participate in a short survey about the joys, challenges and day-to-day work of leading a church in contemporary America. A selection of their responses is presented here.

Is there a specific story, or passage of scripture, that inspired you to become a pastor?

Mike Winnowski
Geneva Campus Church, Madison, Wisconsin

For me it was the parable of the talents. I had a sense of calling into ministry, but I struggled with a more basic calling to live a thoroughly Christian lifestyle. I remember saying to my pastor, “I can’t even manage my own life very well; how could I be responsible for the spiritual well-being of a whole congregation?” He just sat there looking at me. In the uncomfortable silence that followed, the parable of the talents popped into my head—the story where we’re reminded that we can save up our resources and never use them, or we can take risks and try to do some good in the world.

It occurred to me in that moment that if I did have a calling into ministry, the best response was to live in a way that was consistent with that calling. I felt that I had to make a choice between using the gift God gave me, or burying it in the ground, so to speak. It wasn’t a total guilt trip, though. I felt like I was being presented with an opportunity to take repentance seriously and live in a way that would actually please God. It was a redemptive moment for me.

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