Tuesday, May 16, 2017
This week I began grad class number five, which prompts a pace of full steam ahead until the final assignment is submitted seven weeks from now. As history tends to repeat itself, most likely by week four I will again question my sanity. Taking classes in addition to a regular work schedule and family life equals moments of high stress and chaos. In fact, the whole scenario can be compared to juggling bowling balls. Honestly, some days my toes get smashed ‘cause I’ve run out of steam! Nevertheless, I am thrilled to be able to pursue this goal.
As I venture through this journey I’m often asked, “What are you going to do with your degree?”
That’s a good question and one I’ve asked myself on a number of occasions. Frankly, I’m not 100% sure of the answer, but I am confident this is the path I’m being asked to walk.
Again though, with a statement like that some may question, “How do you know you are being asked to walk this path?”
My response, “There’s a tug on my heart. Something deep inside that subtly pulls me in that direction.” Along with that, because I know my Shepherd I can add John 10:27 to the conversation.
Still, there is something you should know about this journey. It’s not one I jumped into headfirst the moment I felt that initial tug to pursue a grad degree. Truthfully, in search for a clear answer, I spent a significant amount of time weighing the pros and cons, seeking council, praying, and studying my Bible. After several months I could no longer deny the direction I felt pulled. So, I applied to grad school and waited for either an acceptance letter or a rejection notification. During that waiting period I again asked God to open or close the door as He saw fit. I am thankful He chose to open the door.
I will admit though, walking through that open door brought a new set of challenges. Each class stretches my brain cells and tests my ability to think on my feet. Exams are timed and learning to formulate a cohesive essay to answer a single question with a forty-five minute constraint is unnerving. Tests not only leave me drained, but after most exams my brain feels numb.
I’d like to say that I’ve mastered the learning curve of timed tests, and figured out the best methods for cramming excessive amounts of material in my cerebral cortex during a short time span, but I really haven’t. I know what works for me; still, I feel pressured each week, and that adds stress to an already stressful life. With that being said, I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow in God’s Word.
This brings me to my current class—class number five, a class that may prove to be the most challenging yet as I pursue an MA in Religion with a focus in biblical studies. Listed on the master schedule as Preaching and Teaching I, the syllabus aligns with the title, and requires that I not only prepare a sermon, but also deliver that sermon to a live audience. In fact, a huge portion of my grade (25%) hinges on the content and delivery of the message I prepare during this seven-week class.
Folks, I have NEVER prepared or delivered a sermon. Well, my kids sometimes accuse me of preaching to them, but that’s beside the point.
Needless to say, I’m facing this class with a bit if trepidation.
These last three paragraphs introduce a new question into the mix. What am I going to do with what I learn in this class and from this experience? While I do feel like I’m being led to prepare for some type of future career change, I do not believe that includes occupying a pulpit on a full-time basis. However, I am not opposed to speaking at small-scale women’s ministry events, nor am I opposed to teaching a high school Bible class for teen girls.
Because there are a number of variables to this whole journey, I truly don’t have a clue what the end result will look like. And I’m okay with not knowing. Honestly, as with all life journeys we never know exactly where the path will lead us. But with God in charge, we can rest assured that whatever road He asks us to take, He will be right there with us to guide our steps. All we have to do is let Him lead the way.
Have you recently ventured down a new path? Use the comment section below to share with us a little about your journey ~ Jill P
- The first four photos are compliments of pixabay.com, and the last two are from my own personal collection.
6 thoughts on “Letting Him Lead”
I’m on a journey – of breaking all the rules. As a millennial, I’ve found myself single long after the previous generation was mostly married. As a young woman, I’ve had to take on a job in the workforce to, you know, not be a drain on society. This has caused no small amount of consternation with my church, it’s an environment that typically upholds the banner that a woman’s place is in her home as a wife and a mother, this teaching – obviously so does not apply to me where I’m at. Rather, my spiritual interests lie in the finer points of the Arminianism / Calvinism debate, Early Church History after Revelation was written, and lately the merits of Complementarianism and Egalitarianism. I’ve been told over and over again that I could really teach the Bible – if I were a guy; but since I’m not, the best I can hope to do is to watch the nursery or operate the sound board. So I’ve begun to break the “roles” just as much as the “rules” – because there’s nowhere I belong in those churches. I figure that all I have to do is to follow Jesus, and Jesus never really said anything about what women can and can’t do (he told Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing), he also enabled women to participate in his ministry in the only acceptable way his society had available to them (as his patrons, meaning that he was their client and obligated to return the favor or do anything they ask of him), and it’s been noted that Jesus was famous for interacting with women in a society of such strict gender segregation that it showed that he was ahead of his time.
So when I see your story, it makes me wonder what kind of church you’ll serve, one that will affirm your womanly right to mentor younger women, instructing them how to love their husbands, keep their houses, raise their children, and not be addicted too too much wine – or one that has a no holds barred approach to the gospel and a belief that all hands ought to be on deck to teach anyone who will listen (man or woman). I hope it’s the latter, but if you find yourself in the former situation that you can find a way to encourage all the young women to really follow Jesus and not just the interpretation of Jesus that the guys who run the show let you believe in.
Thanks so much for sharing part of your journey and speaking from your heart. It sounds like you’ve been met with some opposition, which has caused you frustration and pain. For that I am truly sorry.
Not all denominations have the same view of women in the pastorate position. I actually know of a number of women pastors who are children’s pastors, youth pastors, or associate pastors. One associate pastor I know shares the pulpit duties with the other pastors and deliver’s the Sunday message at least once a month. I also know of a woman who co-pastors a church with her husband and they take turns delivering the messages.
On the flip side, many denominations do hold a strict stance of not allowing women in the pulpit. It seems they are adhering to 2 Timothy 2:11-15 and Titus 2. While I can understand their reasoning based on taking these passages at face value, one could question the validity of their stance based on all of the cultural changes that have occurred since that time period.
Honestly, for me, I really don’t see myself occupying the lead pastorate position at a church, but rather feel more drawn to teen ministry (such as leading a high school Bible class for teen girls in a Christian school setting) or taking on a role in a women’s ministry. I don’t feel led or feel like I’m being called to be a lead pastor or associate pastor.
Whatever I do, or in whichever role I end up, I hope those I encounter are encouraged, and that people see Jesus in me. As well, when I speak His name to others, talk about His character, or explain that His extension of forgiveness is offered to all mankind, that people choose to accept Him as their Savior.
It seems like the only thing that comes close to a lead pastor role in my denomination is missionary, to that end, I even picked up a foreign language or two. But then I realized that I really had no business in some other country and really wanted to be close to home. I know that my denomination is big on being Biblical, and it’s keen on gender roles because it was created in the perfection of the Garden, before any culture existed, it was the foundation of all cultures that men have authority over women. To them, cultural changes wrought by feminism is nothing more than the devil trying to destroy God’s design for family. I’m glad that your denomination is freer in that regard – and I guess I shouldn’t have just assumed that you were stuck doing the only okay role in church but might actually be called to do just that.
Hi Jamie – thanks again for dialoging about this topic. Because of the disintegration of the family unit and what Scripture states about church leadership, I can understand why a denomination would want to stipulate a man for the lead pastorate role. Still, I think there is a place in the church for women pastors that goes beyond the nursery, children, youth or women’s ministries. I really do hope that if your desire is to preach the Word of God and fulfill that calling in your life, that you are able to find a place you can serve out that calling to the fullest extent possible.
Hi, Jill. I loved your thoughtful post on “Letting Him lead the way.” Faith and trust are so closely linked. I recently came across some writings by John O’Donohue that I think you would find inspirational, encouraging and comforting. O’Donohue’s poem that starts “In out-of-the-way places of the heart” is about the courage (and faith) to embrace the uncertain future. It is in his book “To Bless the Space Between us.” (I don’t have the title of the poem in front of me, but you can easily find it.) You might also find William Bridges’ wonderful book “Transitions” a good read to squeeze into your studies right now. Bridges discusses how all transitions involve a liminal phase when what lies ahead is truly unknown. As O’Donohue says at the end of his poem ” Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,/ For your soul senses the world that awaits you.” I haven’t obtained the new Chicken Soup book yet, but I will, I look forward to reading your essay.
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Hi Bruce. Thanks so much for your encouraging comments and for the book and poem recommendations. I am always on the lookout for good books and will definitely check out “Transitions” by William Bridges. I’ve heard of O’Donohue, but I don’t think I have ever read that specific poem before. I will make sure to do so. Thanks again.