God has a way of placing people around us that “see” our calling even before we hear or acknowledge that God has preaching and pastoring in our future. Sometimes God uses people as a gnat fly to “pester” and continue to speak over our lives what God has ordained before the foundation of the world.
As a teenager, I can remember a minister that kept calling me, “Evangelist Small” (my maiden name). I hated to see him coming! At age 15 the last thing I wanted to do was preach! God, however, had strategically placed that man in my life to prepare my mind and heart for His voice, in due season. I accepted my call to preach at age 16 and was initially licensed at age 17. That’s another story for another day!
Today’s blog features a pastor named Mary. In response to the last two blogs concerning Ageism, and Church Planting, Pastor Mary emailed me her own story concerning God’s affirmation of her calling…
A response from “Pastor Mary…”
I just finished reading both last week's and today's blog. I will be 60 in November. I was over 49 when I became the only pastor of 2 small Baptist churches, so I guess that makes me the senior pastor!
I remember as a child wanting to be like a dear friend who ministered with another woman in a Methodist church. She was my idol. How I wish that she were alive today to see me and help me.
While I deeply admired my friend that was a pastor, I never really gave pastoring any serious consideration. I Took the desert route so to speak before God brought me to a place where I started helping out as liturgist. How I remember shaking and stressing that I would not do it right!! Others, however, saw something in me and encouraged me.
Later I attended a Spiritual Gifts Retreat (at the time I was Methodist). There as I listened God spoke to me about the call. Although I said yes, I had no plans to move forward. In the spring I attended another women's retreat. There I met a woman pastor who shared her story of how God led her to a 2nd career – the ministry! After talking with her I found myself praying and realizing that God wanted more from me.
I investigated and found it would cost over $60,000 to go back to school and get an M.Div since I had not finished my undergraduate degree. I decided to work on finishing that first. My professors said I kept the bar high for all the rest. I love learning and though it put a strain on my marriage I graduated in May 2000 from the 2-year course of study. I had planned to go on to another campus for more religion classes and finish the next 2 years, but a funny thing happened along the way.
I was asked to do pulpit supply for 2 small churches on an interim basis. I accepted and went from being an interim to becoming a licensed lay-pastor. I have been there 10 years this fall. There are so many things I still dont' know, but I do know that God put me where I am. Through these churches I am able to minister to people in nursing homes, hospitals, at food pantries, in times of joy and sorrow, as well as proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ each Sunday. Who could ask for more?
So that is my story. I don't look 60, most of the time I don't feel it either. I have been blessed by this opportunity and each day God allows me to do it is a gift. Although sometimes a challenging and trying gift, it keeps me aware of the need to continue to work on things in my own life.
Today I found myself in a room with a Seven Day Adventist and a Presbyterian sister in Christ holding my hand on each side. I could not have better prayer warriors than these 2 senior citizens whose faith in God is unwavering. As we prayed there was NO denomination, just us and God. I have been a part of many denominations through the years, not always members, but worshiping with and learning from them. I am very happy to be American Baptist, but if God were to put me somewhere else, I would continue to serve with the same message of God's love, grace, peace and pardon." End of Interview.
Have you ever gone through a period of time where you ignored God’s tugging at your heart? Did the Lord ever send people, situations or circumstances into your life that kept affirming what you were trying to avoid? What words of encouragement would you share with a woman who is nervous about answering God’s call to ministry? We want to hear from you. Post a comment and or send me an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In faith, hope and perseverance,