As church leaders, we live our lives within the spotlight of professional ministry. To best love and serve God and our neighbors, we aim to be the fullest, truest versions of ourselves. However, we often struggle to do so with integrity. What if our preaching or singing feels like a performance? Are we supposed to hide our imperfections and let people see only the shiniest parts of our lives? If you have ever felt like you’re working under a microscope or that you’ve been put on a pedestal you don’t want or deserve, know that you are not alone.
Professional Christian gathers the wisdom from fifty church leaders in a variety of roles (including Sandhya Jha, Jacqueline J. Lewis, Bruce Reyes-Chow, Nikki Toyama-Szeto, and Will Willimon) on topics such as authenticity, privacy, boundaries, doubt, self-care, and the challenges of being held to a higher standard. The stories, advice, and wisdom from these leaders help to show us that thriving in ministry should not have to come at the expense of our identity and relationships. Written by a church musician with over twenty years of experience in ministry, Professional Christian helps church leaders learn to flourish as an integrated person of faith living out their call to vocational ministry.
“‘I would be true, for there are those who trust me,’ goes the hymn by Howard A. Walter, a call that challenges all who are in vocational Christian service. In view of this, Bereza offers wise counsel on how leaders can be their genuine selves in their ministry.”
-Lim Swee Hong, Director of the Master of Sacred Music program, Emmanuel College of Victoria University, University of Toronto, Canada
“Bereza is a highly gifted interviewer and writer. This book is a treasury of wisdom for any who follow the call to Christian leadership.”
-Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Distinguished Research Professor of Theology, Duke University
“With characteristic wit and keen insight, Bereza moves the discussion beyond popular buzzwords like authenticity and sincerity, providing new models for navigating pressures and struggles as a ‘professional Christian.’ A must-read for ministers and those preparing for ministry.”
-Monique M. Ingalls, Associate Professor of Music, Baylor University
“This is a must-read for professional leaders of faith communities who strive for integrity between their public role and perception and their personal identity and desire to be fully themselves.”
-Bishop Kenneth L. Carder, Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Distinguished Professor Emeritus, The Practice of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School
“Listening with a careful ear to her own experience and probing through interviews of the experiences of dozens of practicing pastors, teachers, and musicians, Dr. Bereza is a welcome companion to any on the journey of professional ministry, ordained or lay.”
-David M. Greenhaw, President Emeritus, Eden Theological Seminary
“Being fully ourselves in public ministry is a challenge for religious leaders. Authenticity can feel elusive. Bereza offers not rules but a lens for navigating this terrain with theological and ethical grounding. She frees us from believing that we must act the same way in every situation to be truly ourselves.”
-Lovett H. Weems Jr., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Leadership, Wesley Theological Seminary
“Bereza has written a book I wish I had when I was starting out in ordained ministry! She helps anyone who is in professional, public ministry consider the issues related to being authentic to oneself while being responsible to one’s role. This is a must-read for every new pastor!”
-Bishop Karen Oliveto, Mountain Sky Conference, The United Methodist Church