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Three Years... Switched Gears... Some Fears

It’s finished! The book you see above is published and available on Amazon.

So, what’s it like to write a book? Nothing like what I imagined.

Like many naïve writers, I thought putting together a book would be relatively easy. I had written a devotional journal each time I read through the Bible. Not a soft, warm, fuzzy journal, but a studious one. I looked up meanings of words in the original Greek and Hebrew. I studied what happened in history when the books of the Bible were written. I delved into cultural practices affecting the issues that biblical writers addressed. And I wrote it all down in longhand, word by word.

Every time I read the book of Nehemiah I thought, There is so much here that pertains to leadership in ministry. Maybe someday I can write a book about it.

Putting it all together should be easy, right? Wrong.

It’s one thing to write for one’s own benefit, but another to pen words that others will read and either understand or misunderstand. That is a heavy responsibility.

Three years ago, I started writing the book pictured above. At the time, I didn’t even know what the title would be.

It’s a good thing the Lord didn’t allow it to come together too soon. My attitude then might have been, “Let me tell you some of the crazy things that happened to us in ministry.” God wouldn’t have received much glory from that.

And then one day I read a lengthy post from a retired minister who described the way God gave him wisdom for handling a volatile church situation. He said it so much better than I could have. I asked permission to use his words; he graciously complied.

I began splicing the retired minister’s words with thoughts from my Nehemiah devotional journal, and realized they nearly filled a chapter.

Then I asked more ministers about experiences in leadership that compared to Nehemiah’s. Difficult situations they faced and survived with wisdom from God. I knew the Lord had the right writers in mind; I just had to find them. Seventeen of those pastors took time from busy schedules to write true stories.

And I discovered it really is true that if you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.

I wasn’t sure which direction to go with all the material. Gradually, God brought suggestions to mind through random books from our personal library. Many contained stories that fleshed out principles in just the right way. I packed a notebook with quotes and story illustrations.

Did I mention the value of a writers' critique group? Once a month, Word Weavers International members read my work and suggested improvements. Most chapters of this book were critiqued by fellow writers in the group called Word Weavers Page 29.

Looking back, I am amazed at the way God brought people and words to me just when I needed them. Books that I casually picked up and found useful quotes inside. Sermon illustrations. Blog posts. God used them all.

Three years, then switched gears⸺I had a completely different angle and title in mind⸺ then some fears (will people even buy the book?). Now it’s finished and ready for other eyes to see.

It’s my hope that those already in ministry will benefit from the practical advice these eighteen pastors shared --the joys and sorrows of their occupation. And for those teetering on the edge of the Bible college or seminary nest, ready to fly into ministry— these wise words may save them from the pitfalls that ministers eventually face.

You can buy the book as an appreciation gift for your hard-wording pastor, or give it to a Bible college graduate. I think you’ll be glad you did. It’s at: How to Pastor and Live to Tell About It: Lessons from Nehemiah: Sarver, Roberta: 9781955309400: Books

If you like, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. It helps the ratings.

If you want to know more about this writing adventure, there is an interview with the publishers at


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