Where do I go from here?

by "Pastor"
(Southwest)

I have been serving full time in the pastoral ministry for 17 years (on my third congregation ... two years now). When I first entered the ministry, I was so grateful to God for this opportunity and so full of life. While I didn't enjoy every aspect ('cold calling' is something I did not like, even in my business days), I did get fired up about most of it. I loved to preach and teach. Counseling was okay ... as long as I had some time in between those kinds of meetings to get my own head back together.

I left that congregation after 7 years. I had received a call to an East Coast congregation in a very large city (I am a small town guy ... raised in the mountain west). The congregation had huge problems ... from financial to huge counseling needs. While I was able to serve eight years there, I was spiraling downward after about 6 weeks. Eight years later, I was calling my 'supervisor pastor' asking him to find a way out for me before I had to resign. My energy was gone. I was experiencing panic attacks in traffic ... because I couldn't stand the crowds, I was becoming a prisoner in my home.

The call to the West came ... unfortunately, to a very large city. The congregation is less needy, although the counseling load can become overwhelming at times. What scares me is that I have no energy or excitement for this work. I sort of 'mail it in' ... recycling old sermons (I haven't been able to write for several years) ... going through the motions. God's people should have more than that! I just don't want to do this any more ... and that makes me feel very guilty. I prayed for years that God would allow me to go to seminary. Through many miracles, he made it possible. People still encourage me in my work. They love my sermons and Bible studies.

I feel like a fake.

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