Sometimes I feel like I have two speeds – real fast or real slow.
Real fast is where I rush into things quickly and take good risks. Even if sometimes that speed and snap judgement blows up in my face. At my best, I’m confident and intuitive. I’ve experienced enough to just “go for it.” Many times, it’s angered others or I come across in ways I didn’t intend.
For those who know me well, my first speed is “bulldozer.” At my heart, I just want to get things done. And I have to work at bringing others along.
And part of that’s good. I want to bring other people with me and set everyone up for success. So I do projects and recruit people. I pay a lot of attention to my team. I throw money and time and effort into developing others.
Being a bulldozer, or a lion, or a leader is usually a really good thing: I’ll stick to plans, give things my whole effort.
But here’s the downside: If I’m not in charge of things, I can pull back way too much. When I’m not making things happen? Sometimes my other speed is real, real…. slow.
And that can be good.
It’s good to rest.
It’s good to intentionally pull back sometimes.
Let others lead.
It’s good sometimes to evaluate risks and exercise more caution.
But it can morph into where I’ve found myself lately — wanting to do more, but dragging my feet. Even when it’s clear I need to move. And if I don’t want to move… my stubbornness is a bad thing. If it takes a lot for God to move me, I’m in trouble.
When it comes to writing this series, I’ve put this off a long time.
To the level of not being obedient to what God is calling me to do. And I repent of that – turn back and ask for forgiveness.
Because letting my fear stop me? That’s just stupid of me. The monsters of fear and perfectionism raising their heads.
Fear that I’ll tell this wrong.
Sound too arrogant.
Get too much bad feedback.
Offend someone unnecessarily.
I’m not putting it off any more.
Over the next few months, I’ll be releasing this series of posts.
On how God called me to vocational ministry as a pastor.
It’s about more than my obedience here. I’m convinced that there are others who need to hear it.
Others facing the same questions I did and how to answer them.
Others wondering how to get here…
Or reevaluating their own beliefs.
Others wrestling with the call of God on their own life.
A wise professor once told a preaching class: “In preaching and teaching, aim to be helpful. Do not waste any time attempting to be great.”
I have a deep conviction that others need to hear this, so I’m going to get it down.
I won’t continue to waste time attempting to be great.
So how did I become a pastor anyway?
Especially a Canadian. Evangelical. Pentecostal. Female. Pastor.
Those are five words I didn’t know went together growing up. Terms that have been hijacked (I mean, hey, think of “evangelical” in the media these days!).
So let’s begin by being helpful. Let’s define those terms.
Canadian. I’m born and raised in Ontario, Canada. As a Canadian, my context is different than a pastor in Norway or Uganda or the United States.
Within Ontario, I’ve lived in some of the smallest and largest places we have.
Urban, rural, and suburban.
Southern and Northern Ontario.
Evangelical. This word has been used in a lot of ways. Often it’s been overlaid with meanings it didn’t start out with. Which make it pretty controversial and polarizing.
But at its core, “evangelical” simply means I believe in, and want to be about the Good News of Jesus. Which is polarizing enough! Including
- That Jesus has transformed my life (“converted” me), and that means I follow him for my whole life.
- I highly regard the Bible as God’s word and its authority in my life.
- Jesus died, was buried and rose again to save us. Without that happening, we could not be redeemed.
- It’s important to live a life that translates my own faith into action. Both telling people about Jesus, and living out Christian principles and ethics.
Most Canadian churches believe that. My pastor colleagues – whether Baptist or Brethren and many others – start here.
But beyond generically evangelical, I’m also Pentecostal.
My grandfather walked into a Pentecostal revival meeting as a young man. (He was drunk too).
He walked out hours later... saved and sober.
He had a powerful encounter with God’s presence.
And his life totally changed.
A classical “evangelical” experience.. and a classical “Pentecostal” experience.
I stand in a tradition of Pentecostal Christians — which is characterized by people who believe in the Holy Spirit working actively and visibly in their lives. Including the “weird stuff” like speaking in tongues.
But also… a commitment to international missions work, and an urgency to telling people about Jesus. Teaching the Holy Spirit gives abilities and a role to everyone — regardless of gender or ethnicity or our past.
The Canadian Pentecostal church has been around about a century. (Starting around 1906 and well established by 1910). The creativity, focus on church planting and emphasis on every believers’ gifts continues to this day. I’m so thankful to be an ordained minister in the PAOC.
And the worldwide church that considers themselves Pentecostal (a quarter billion people!) has taught me so much. The scholarship. The adaptability to different cultures. The economic and social impact made by people who believe in the Spirit’s gifting to all.
The worldwide church is easier to see in the age of Instagram and streamed sermons.
Twenty years ago you had to travel to see this. Or read an article. Even five years ago, I was reading about a church in Italy and I couldn’t find their website or anything about their staff.
But these days in one hour, I can see churches in Dubai and Bogotá and Sydney and Sydenham…. and be encouraged by the same Holy Spirit who is present in wildly different contexts.
It’s still unique or at least uncommon to be a female pastor in the evangelical world.
And there are real questions we wrestle with along the way.
Questions about the Bible, gifting, and personality. Finances, job viability, relationships and logistics.
And it is where we face the most opposition – from other Christians. The most labels.
And while I believe there are good answers to the questions people ask, and good responses to others’ concerns… they still take a toll.
So my fear tells me to sweep this under the rug. My natural tendency is just to go “oh, well, we all have our journeys” and leave it be. Beyond the question of pastors, gender is such a charged conversation. It can be tempting to leave it alone.
That said, I believe this story will add light – and not heat – to the conversation. And be helpful.
So I’m going to be honest and tell you about my questions as a female in ministry, and the road I walked to get here.
All four of the first things influence me as a pastor. Ordained for a few years now. It’s a privilege to have giftings to preach and teach. To be given the opportunity to lead. To help equip people for the work of ministry Jesus calls us to.
And I’m grateful that he’s taken this kid from Niagara, placed a call on her life, and hasn’t let it go.
God’s brought me safe thus far, and he will lead me home.
Thanks for reading.
(Part Two: Unlikely Sympathy will be up next.)
10. The path of wisdom
11. Redeemed and resurrected
12. Three big lies
13. Courage to change
14. Adulting is hard…
15. And mentoring is harder
16. Bombs and truth bombs
17. Females and finances
18. Two hundred bad sermons
19. Evangelical, Pentecostal, Female, and Not Alone
20. Strong arms or feeble hands?
21. Strength to strength