“Something’s missing. The congregation is growing, my ministry is flourishing, people are being blessed, but something’s not right. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m not feeling the joy that should come with a successful ministry.”
My dear friend and colleague who said that to me is not alone in those feelings. I have pastored three congregations over the past twenty years, and I’ve talked with pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders who have felt like something was missing. I’ve seen too many ministry colleagues burn out, become cynical, or succumb to moral failure.
As a seminary student over twenty years ago, very little time was spent helping us to know our own souls, to nurture our souls, to develop healthy habits for our souls that would be sturdy enough for forty years of ministry. As a student, I hardly thought about what it would take to run the marathon of ministry for thirty or forty years. Then, in my first congregation, my mentor, Gene, was approaching the forty-year mark in ministry, nearing retirement. Gene recognized all the warts and flaws of the church, saw his own weaknesses, and yet had nothing but joy in the ministry he was doing. I marveled at him, and I determined that I wanted to finish the race running well, running joyfully.
Those experiences led me to earn a D.Min. in Spiritual Formation, focusing on the formation of pastors, missionaries, and church leaders. I delight in seeing my colleagues healthy and joyful in ministry. That delight has led me to CTS as the Dean of Students. My desire is to serve the students of CTS in the many roles of the Dean of Students, but especially pastorally by being present and attentive to your stories, noticing the Spirit’s work, and encouraging you to establish healthy and sturdy spiritual disciplines that will uphold you for a lifetime of ministry in God’s kingdom.
To that end, my door will always be open (unless I’m meeting someone), and I look forward to getting to know you (be patient with me as I learn your names—there are many to learn!), hearing your stories, and being attentive in prayer with and for you as you study at CTS. I’m glad to listen, to pray, to encourage. I’d love to share a cup of coffee or tea or a lunch with you. I’m delighted to play foosball or ping pong (I’m better at one than the other, but I’m not saying which is which) or to join in just about any other fun that’s going on. I play tennis, I enjoy baseball, and you can follow me on Twitter (@DeanJSajdak). I am deeply in love with Karin, my wife of 28 years, and I delight in my four children and one daughter-in-law.
Welcome (back) to CTS, stop in and visit, and may the joy of the Lord be yours through your CTS years and throughout a lifetime of ministry.
Joy and peace,
Jeff Sajdak, Dean of Students