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Not long after I got out of seminary, I decided I needed more training. So, I applied for a pastoral residency position at one of the largest churches in our denomination. It was a church in Prairie Village, Kansas, just outside of Kansas City, Missouri. As it turns out, the selection committee asked me to come to Kansas for an interview.

When I got there, they took me out to eat at a really nice restaurant. There were about nine or ten other people and me. And they must have asked me as many as a dozen questions, but I only remember one. "What goals do you bring to this program? What do you want to accomplish here?"

I almost choked on my food -- which is one reason I don’t like to do interviews over a meal! I’m ashamed to admit this to you, but I didn’t have any goals. I guess I thought they would set the goals for me. In any case, I had never thought explicitly about goals, so I didn’t have an answer to the question. I felt foolish and unworthy of this group’s attention.

I was to meet with them again the next morning, so that night I worked as hard as I could inventing goals. I mean, I just made them up. When we were together again -- this time at the breakfast table -- I must have had some ten or twelve goals. The day before I had none; now I had too many, way too many. For whatever reason, the committee invited me to come anyway. I guess they thought, maybe, I needed the program. In any case, one thing I learned there, starting that day, is to formulate as clearly as possible in my own mind what my purpose is, what I’m trying to accomplish, whatever I’m doing. And over the years since then, I have tried to make sure I had some idea of why I was doing anything I was doing.

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