The collective insights from clergywomen given below reveal the power of prayer, faith, patience, courage, persistence and healthy relationships. Their words are a treasure trove of guidance for sisters pondering the pastoral call.
In response to the survey question, “What advice would you give clergywomen entering or preparing to enter the pastorate?” female pastors from across the country shared the following words of wisdom…
“Be patient and wait on your season.
Allow God to open the doors and close others.
Express your ministry with your own style and flavor.
Allow the scriptures to lead you and guide you in decisions that you make.
Be firm in a spirit of love.
Don’t avoid conflict but leave your emotional baggage at home when resolving conflict in the church.”
“Know that you are called!!! Validation from God must be enough. Don't take it personally when others criticize or condemn you for being a woman pastor. Build your ministry with men and women who are gifted and called. Of course, use discernment but know that you cannot build a ministry alone. Don't lose your femininity! God knew you were a woman when He called you.”
“Have fun. Use your gifts. Don't try to be like anyone else. Follow the leading of the Spirit. Love the congregation and let them love you. Most of all, love Jesus and love yourself enough to take care of yourself.”
“Do not be surprised when conflict is exhibited in the church. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. When sexism does emerge, recognize it and love your enemies. Do not depend on church members to like you, but keep your sense of God's love for you fully nourished in your spirit. Pray constantly. Keep your sense of humor. Do not take criticism too seriously, but do listen to critiques to learn. Love your people. Keep clear on your boundaries. Behave ethically, for you will be judged twice as harshly as a man would be. Find a support group of colleagues and engage in spiritual direction and/or psychotherapy. Love your Lord and let your gifts shine! Give a hand up to the sisters in ministry who come after you.”
“Know that you are called.
If you are married, make certain that your husband is behind you 100%.
Be patient - people change slowly. Remember God brings about change.
Surround yourselves with those who will support you.
Find a good mentor - male or female.
Realize there will be tough days, days you will feel that you are not making a difference, days you will question your call, and days you will cry. But remember this, there will also be really great days when you will feel God's anointing, and a peace and joy that passes all understanding.
Don't have a chip on your shoulder. In other words, don't think that every challenge you face is due to the fact that you are a woman. Some are and some aren't.
Know how to pick your battles.
Have a sense of humor.
“Take the time to get to know your congregants and the history of the congregation before attempting change. This would hold true for all who would become senior pastors not just for women.
Find a collegial group of men and women where you can hear and be heard.
Learn from the experiences of others and don't hesitate to ‘share’ forward.”
“Keep a group of friends with whom you can share frustrations, struggles, highs and lows. Don't get consumed with success. Remember that God called women to pastor as women and not as men would pastor. Many women model men's style of pastoring, which is unfortunate. Perhaps it's because we have not had enough female models, but it is imperative that we realize that we bring a unique set of gifts and compassion and empathy to the position.”
“Stick with it, if God has called you He will provide a place of ministry even when it seems impossible.”
Thank you Sisters for your wisdom! Do you have words of wisdom to share concerning pastoral ministry? Are you wrestling with answering the call? Are you in the midst of a difficult pastoral situation and need guidance and prayer? Post a comment and or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
An exciting opportunity for female clergy is happening next week - read below...
American Baptist Home Mission Societies is excited to take the lead in planning an intercultural gathering of women in ministry.
The one and one-half day gathering—“Women Together: Lifting and Serving One Another,” August 19-20 in Detroit, Mich.—will include workshops designed specifically for female senior pastors as well as workshops specific to women engaged in other ministry professions, such as assistant and associate pastors/ministers, chaplains, pastoral counselors and Christian educators, along with those involved in denominational work.
Ministry presents unique challenges and opportunities for women, but there is a need for encouragement and support, fellowship and lifelong learning, that is common. Together, more can be accomplished than women often can achieve on their own. Support this effort to bring together a diverse group of American Baptist Churches USA women in ministry by participating, telling other women about it, and praying about it. American Baptist women will be featured in the workshops, worship services and panel discussions. The registration fee for the gathering is moderately priced at $80 per person. Hotel accommodations have been reserved at the Westin Hotel at the group rate of $75, plus tax, for double occupancy.
Download the conference brochure.
Register online. (Registration remains open - registration will be available on site!)
For conference information, e-mail Yvonne Carter (Yvonne.Carter@abhms.org).
Hope to see you there!
Until next week,
In faith, hope and perseverance,