As we stepped out of the car to attend our new congregation’s July 4th picnic, my husband and I were overwhelmed by the fanfare. Children ran to us with arms waving. Senior adults ambled closer with walkers. Young adults suspended their softball game to join the march and spontaneous cheer. “Pastor’s here!”
The many roles that have defined my life journey – “wife,” “mother,” “professor,” “evangelist,” “staff associate,” “television reporter” – converged the moment I was called “PASTOR.”
Ed smiled and said, “PASTOR, I like the sound of that!”
I nodded and replied, “I do too.”
Ironically, the call to serve El Cajon Church of the Nazarene almost did not happen. A week before the pastoral vote, a regular attendant mailed a long letter to each family denouncing women in church leadership. He warned members that calling a woman to preach and pastor would incur the wrath of God and
jeopardize the church’s future. Despite his fierce campaign, the church overwhelmingly voted to call us. And now, three years into this pastorate, I remain humbled and exceedingly grateful.
I THANK GOD for an undivided focus. My primary mission is to honor Jesus with a pure heart and to nurture a holy and healthy congregation. I honestly do not have the energy to keep defending this call. That I leave to God who validates the ministry with the fruit of changed lives and a peace that accompanies being in the center of his will.
I THANK GOD for the opportunity to use spiritual gifts and experience to their fullest potential. My heart bursts with joy whenever I disciple potential leaders, comfort the hurting, and preach the good news that has gripped my soul.
I THANK GOD for the challenges that thrust the full weight of my faith into his everlasting arms. Unexpected costs, relational conflicts, and entrenched resistance to change can undermine a leader’s confidence. They can also intensify one’s desire to pray, fast, and trust the promises of Scripture for miracles.
I THANK GOD for a husband who fully embraces his call as a pastoral spouse. Ed’s identity is not defined by ecclesial expectations, but by who he is as a man after God’s heart. Together we want to model the ministerial partnership that characterized so many early Nazarene ministry couples.
From the day our congregation ran to me bestowing the beloved title “pastor,” I have earnestly tried to discern the priorities and perimeters of this divine assignment. I seek:
• the holy boldness of evangelist Estelle Crutcher to preach with power,
• the fortitude of missionary Louise Chapman to overcome insurmountable obstacles,
• the confidence of pastor Agnes Diffee to expand the vision of my congregation, and,
• the love of church planter Mary Lee Cagle to gracefully respond to criticism.
Remember the author of those letters to undermine my pastoral vote? He has become a faithful supporter. I am wise enough to know that I did not change his mind. It was the One who transformed my heart and set my life on a course of glorious love. By God’s grace, for God’s pleasure, I AM PASTOR. May many more anointed Nazarene women join me in this holy enterprise.
by Janine Tartaglia-Metcalf