During my years in parish ministry I offered spiritual direction for clergy in the area. In the span of two years, four pastors came to me with what seemed to be the same symptoms. Each felt a sense of restlessness, malaise, and vague anxiety about the future of his or her current congregational ministry. Puzzled that their struggles seemed so similar, I looked for a common factor in these pastors’ lives and their widely differing church contexts.
The only common element all four shared was the length of time they had served their current parishes. Each was in either the seventh or eighth year with one congregation. Moreover, none of these pastors had previously stayed with one parish for more than five years. Could this common thread of short pastoral tenure be the source of their restlessness?