Over the past few weeks, I have heard a whisper in my heart. I have heard a murmuring, and it is causing me to be amused and a little off kilter, as I am feeling God’s nudging to move out of my comfort zone and step out with faith.
About a month ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a conference in Atlanta. A sweet friend invited me to join her, and once I heard who the speakers were that would be there, I really couldn’t say no. It was several days of renewal and refreshment for my soul, and a chance to grow in deeper friendship with the woman I attended with. The conference is aimed at those in ministry who are leaders, and the conference is aptly named “Catalyst” as it does create within one a condition for change, for growth. Between the fantastic preaching, the wonderful worship time led by Matt Redman (!!) and one of the lead singers from Hillsong, and awesome speakers, I began to hear God’s sweet whispers to me, leading me, guiding me.
I was convicted several times over the course of the three days, realizing that I was not fully living into the call of where I am now, right at this point of life. The fact this conference was meant for leaders was not lost on me. I do not consider myself a leader….far from it. However, one of the speakers defined a leader as one who has influence. And don’t we all have that? Don’t we all have an influence, leave an impression upon those we live with, work with, love? Don’t we all all have, at least limited, influence upon the community in which we live?
A leader…no, not so much. But an influencer? Yeah, I can see that. That is a word that resonated more soundly with me.
The following week I took a spiritual gifts inventory, as part of the healing prayer ministry training that I am involved in. Faith and mercy were my top two gifts, according to this test. And yes, I get those. I very much live in faith….because after the life I have led, that is really all I can rely on. And mercy, well, my heart aches for others, and I have always had deep empathy for the other, and I have been shown so much mercy and grace through this life, so that one I get too. But my third strongest gift was “pastoring” and I literally laughed out loud as I read that. Pastoring means preaching, exhorting the word of God, passing on knowledge, and well…preaching. Right? Ugh.
So. not. me.
However, as was explained to me as we were talking about our gifts, pastoring isn’t just the act of preaching. That may be what we think of immediately when we hear the word pastor, but really what pastoring is is shepherding. Caring for others. Guiding. Leading. Again, that word….lead.
Again, so. not. me.
Just last week, another nudge, another gentle push. I had another person speak into my life, tell me specifically that, even though they knew I pushed back from the word “pastor” that they saw me as being gifted in that area. They saw me as a leader, as someone who gently guides others. Someone who cares enough about others that they desire to bring them alongside, and grow in faith with them.
Now, before you think I am bragging up myself, let me tell you that I don’t accept compliments or positive affirmations well. I try to shrug them off or brush them aside. The word “leader” makes this introvert want to run screaming far, far away. But I also know that when words keep repeating themselves, when the same themes seem to keep running through my day to day life, I know I need to listen, to focus and try to understand what the message is. I need to pay attention to where the invitation to growth lies.
As we start to wrap up our time here in Kentucky, I am starting to realize more and more how formative this experience has been for me, and how much I have grown in my faith. I have always known I would be supporting JJ in ministry, and doing what I could to help, but lately it has been pressed upon me that it will also be my ministry, and ours together. That, even though I am not the one taking classes and working through the ordination process, our family is going into ministry.
This will be an adventure for the entire family, and I can only live in the hope that we can do it well, honoring God with the willing hearts that we have. As my husband steps into the role of a pastor, there comes with that a lot of assumptions for me and my role as the “pastor’s wife.”
No, I don’t play the piano or organ. No, I won’t make a good church secretary. No, I won’t volunteer to lead or be on every committee or do nursery care every week. No, you are not going to get a “2 for 1” deal, expecting me to work for the church for free.
I do intend on having boundaries, both for myself and for our family, but I also intend fully to participate in my husband’s ministry, in our ministry, with a joyful and willing heart, just as he has and will continue to support me in the work that I do. As we think and dream about what our future will look like, I am excited to partner with him in ministry. Our giftings compliment one another well, and I do look forward to helping him, joining him, leading with him, but in my own way and through my own, unique giftings.
As I have received so many affirmations lately, so many nurturing and encouraging words, they have been a catalyst to change within. There is an awareness, and an invitation to grow and develop in certain areas, and so, no, I may not feel like a leader, but I know that I am being equipped to guide gently, to help others grow, to help others heal. And I am joyfully leaning into that, as I listen to what is being whispered to my soul.
And I am thankful.