For twenty years I had been a clergyman. I did not want to be one, but that is what I was. I attempted to disguise my clerical collar by calling myself a "preaching minister'. Yet, I fooled no one. Everybody knew I was a clergyman. The Elders viewed me as a professional who was suppose to build their church. The congregation called upon me to be the pastor of their spiritual needs. Even the secular community labeled me with the title, "Reverend".

Do not get me wrong. I confess that I enjoyed the benefits of a clergyman. It is a respectable work. You meet a lot of wonderful people and occasionally are convinced that you made a little difference in some of their lives. As a clergyman I never went hungry, and have done things and gone places I would have never been able to do or go if I had not been a clergyman. I even have a clergymen's pass to a professional baseball stadium. It saves me eight dollars. And the thought of being freed of a job in order to study and proclaim the Scriptures, who can complain?

1 am no longer a clergyman. People will now see me differently; I think. Many have asked: "How can you leave the ministry?" When I explain to them I haven't quit the ministry, but the clergy, some do not understand. This does not surprise me, since for centuries the terms clergy and minister have been used interchangeably.

I believe in the ministry of all believers. But I found it difficult to be a clergyman and still at the same time be a minister. Every time I try to minister, someone would remind me that I am a clergyman. I would hear statements like: "your calling" or "that's your job".

I am now only a minister. I am not claiming to be a better person because of my decision, or that those who choose to be both a clergyman and a minister are any less of an individual. However, I believe I am freer to concentrate on people and not an institution. My greatest struggle with the clergy is that I have never been accepted as a part of the team. There is little commitment by others to you as an individual. When differences occur, you become replaceable. Most clergyman are seen as outsiders, not as family members.

I no longer stand behind a pulpit to earn my living. But like all Christians I will do my best to give witness of Jesus and minister to the brethren in Christ.

A Former Clergyman