Although I feel a little crazy for doing it, I thought this day might come—the day I become a student again! In August, I’ll begin my Doctor of Ministry at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA, part of Emory University. The program is built for those who work in ministry across the country; therefore most of our classes happen via Zoom. It’s designed to do alongside your ministry job and to bring that experience to inform classroom discussions and research, so you’re not getting rid of me that easily! I’ll still be working my normal 25 hours per week at the church and taking my classes on Monday and Wednesday afternoons for the next three years. Pray for me. Bear with me. It will be fun, they say! 🙂
I’m a lifelong learner and a huge Bible nerd, so it’s no surprise that I wanted to continue my education in this way. This whole experience of deciding to go back to school has me thinking a lot about “calling,” though. I mean really, what the heck is a calling? How do we know when we’re called? How much do we endure to follow a calling?
I am incredibly lucky that I was able, very early in life, to hear God calling me toward ministry. I responded in my own way and time, but eventually, I got there. I feel so incredibly happy to be doing the work I do, but I’m going to let y’all in on a little secret: It’s not easy being a woman in ministry—period, full stop. There is a special level of scrutiny reserved especially for people like me—a Baptist female minister in the South. Simply because of my gender, I am second-guessed, not given the benefit of the doubt, and expected to be less qualified and less experienced in the work that I do. For some folks, no amount of education, skill and giftedness will offset the fact that I’m a woman, but hey, haters gonna hate, right? What’s more important is to keep listening for that voice of God in everything we do, inside our job and outside our job, because calling can happen in any area of life. Ask these questions of yourself: Where am I feeling pulled/drawn? What changes do I need to make? How can I become more contented and less discontented? What’s the goodness God is revealing to me today? Calling changes over time, so be sure to stay plugged in and tuned in to the whims and winds of our loving and surprising God.
Sometimes it helps us reflect on our own calling to celebrate the calling of others. Our congregation will have a few opportunities over the coming months to celebrate the ordination of some of our own into ministry. Kristan Pitts has been recommended for ordination, and a date will be set in the future. Will Raybon will be ordained by his home church of First Baptist Asheville on September 26 at 3pm, and on August 1 at 3pm, Anne Garner will be ordained by this congregation in our Sanctuary. Watch for the whims and winds of God!