This is What a Minister Looks Like: Jamie McCallum

Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing woman minister. Today we are pleased to introduce you to Jamie McCallum.

Jamie, tell us about your current ministry?

I am the associate pastor for youth and congregational life at First Baptist Church of Waco, Texas.

What are some of the experiences that you had that helped you discern a call to ministry?

The call to ministry for me has come from God’s grace to live in the ”Yes” of each season. On a youth mission trip in high school, I first felt that unique tug at my heart that convinced me that God was working and was allowing me to be a part of something bigger than myself. The day we returned home, I remember telling my parents that God was calling me to the mission field. They were kind and supportive and pretty sure this conviction would soon pass! But the opportunities to say “Yes”—those nudges from the Spirit–just kept coming.

Doors opened for more trips—each shaping me a bit more than the one before. A year into my college experience a friend asked me to help her begin a ministry for international students on our campus. As soon as she asked, I felt that tug and couldn’t help but say, “Yes!”  At a conference a few months later, the speaker told about what God was doing in the Middle East, and in the silence of my dorm room later that night, I heard God ask if I would serve there. With the question, came that familiar tug on my heart and a shaky “Yes” in response. After two wonderful years in Egypt, it was time to say “Yes” to seminary, where I expected to become better equipped for the ministry to which I had already said “Yes” many times before.

I did not expect for those halls and classrooms at my seminary to be places where the Spirit’s invitations and nudges would keep on coming. At times, God’s grace came as the ability to say “Yes” to a deconstructed and reconstructed theology and world-view. At times, I stumbled upon God’s grace in the opportunity to say “Yes” to chaplaincy and non-profit work, and then it came with the invitation to even give youth ministry a try. In it all, God has been shaping me, it seems, to respond with one big “Yes” to the church. Each of these small “Yeses” along the way has formed in me a love for preaching, worshiping, serving, and ministering alongside the people of God as we strive for the Kingdom of God as one.

Who has inspired you in your ministry journey?

My biblical inspiration has been Abraham. While studying his call in a seminary scriptures class, God revealed my own call to me. His story was contrasted with the people of Babel, who were building a tower to make a name for themselves. On the other end of their story is this God who comes to Abram, an unknown man from an unknown place, and promises that he is up to something in Abraham’s life that will be for the good of all. In class that day, the Lord spoke a calling into my heart as well, asking me to trust in a calling that I could not have planned and could not control. God assured me he was up to something and warned me that some days it would feel like he was up to nothing. In both cases, God asked me to trust and let him direct that promise and the path.

My greatest personal inspiration has to be my grandfather. He is a ninety-four-year-old retired Baptist preacher. His entire life has been one of service to the church and longing for the lost. I called him on a Saturday a few months back and asked what he was doing. “Oh, just working on a sermon,” he said. I didn’t think he had preached in several years as his physical and mental health have declined. “Are you preaching tomorrow?” I asked surprised and a bit concerned! “Oh no,” he said. “But I just thought I had better be ready in case someone needs me.” His life at ninety-four is still dedicated to God and to the church. I hope others will be able to say the same about me in each season of my life.

What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is sensing a call to ministry? 

Live fully into the “Yes” you have been given today. Plug into one or some of the ministries in your church and community. Invest deeply in the relationships God has already placed in your path. When a door opens to serve God in a way you have never served before, don’t immediately walk away assuming you are too inexperienced, too young, or too afraid. These doors may be significant to your future calling. There is no doubt they could be significant to your calling today!

Ask a woman in ministry if she will be your mentor and friend. I bet she will jump at the invitation!  She may even see your request as God’s invitation for her to keep on saying “Yes,” to new doors in her path. What you are learning about faith, trust, and obedience, we are still learning too. And so help us as we help you say “Yes” to those divine tugs and nudges together.

DEAR ADDIE: Trying to Make Ends Meet

Dear Addie,

I’ve been working on staff at a church for a few years and have come to realize that I am underpaid. I am sure some people might think, “Aren’t we all underpaid!” But I’ve discovered that I really am significantly underpaid and am gearing up for the appropriate conversations to try to remedy the situation. How might I call this information to my church’s attention without sounding whiny or complaining? I want to be professional but also convincing of the need for a salary increase.

Trying to Make Ends Meet

Dear TTMEM,

William Willimon, in his book Calling and Character, writes, “Ministry is not merely a profession, not only because one cannot pay pastors to do many of the things they routinely do, but also because ministry is a vocation.” Yes, I would agree that many ministers are underpaid, but Willimon’s words remind us that we are not in the ministry for the money. We do what we do in answering the call of God upon our lives to proclaim and live the Word in and among the people. However, days are wearied when ministers wrestle with the thought of having to abandon their present calling and place of service because there is not sufficient money to sustain their present needs. But those days happen.

Serving the church is a partnership with the people of God, and it helps to be open and honest about your financial needs with your congregation’s leadership. Most of the time, they are unaware of the shortcomings and are unaware of how ministers salary packages are really divided out. I would encourage you first to do your homework. There are resources you can consult, including The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff and Guide to Negotiating Pastor Compensation from Ministers and Missionaries Benefits Board.

I would then encourage you to sit down with your leadership and carefully explain your financial needs to see if the church is able to rise to the occasion. If not, you will have to wrestle with whether God wants you to remain or move on. Although it might sound religiously trite, God will provide one way or another. For those who are answering calls to serve in the church, before you say yes, do some homework. Know how much it is going to financially cost you to live and serve in the community.

Take courage! Ministry is a partnership with the people of God. Just as you have a calling from God to care for the people in the church who are God’s children, the people have a calling from God to care for you as their minister.

Blessings to you and your church family!

Addie

A Different Calling: Stay-at-Home Minister by Erin Robinson Hall

“I told my boss I am definitely not coming back; I’ve decided to be a stay at home mom.” A few years ago my very pregnant friend told me this news while we chatted in the car. We were both pregnant, each expecting boys and talking excitedly about what life would be like when these babies arrived. I listened as she told me all the plans her family had made to cut back on expenses, to make things work with one income. She said, “I just can’t imagine doing anything else but being home with my child.”

I was jealous of her clarity, because I could imagine lots of scenarios. I could imagine my child being fine in day care, as so many of my friends’ children thrived there. I could imagine continuing full-time work, just as my mom had done with three children. I could imagine holding on to the vocational identity I had built through years of seminary and a career. But I could also imagine caring for my child being my primary vocation. That too sounded wonderful to me.

My husband, Jake, and I explored the idea of having one parent stay home. We both wanted something different for our family, but my stepping away from full-time employment was a financial leap we weren’t sure we could make. I was working two jobs at the time: as a full-time special education teacher and as a part-time minister of congregational life. Stretched too thin was an understatement about my life; something had to give. Jake and I began a discernment time the same way we had with twelve years worth of other major decisions. We worried the topic to death, because what else would you do while stepping off a vocational cliff? We prayed, because that’s the best thing we knew to do. We made it through late-night wonderings and four seasons of “How I Met Your Mother” on Netflix before we realized: this stirring of the heart feels a lot like other callings we had known.

Like our callings to ministry, we paid attention to that stirring. We thought through how we could adjust our life to make it happen. It was not the first time: we had already moved across the country twice for my husband’s job and then for my seminary. By the time my due date arrived, we had shuffled bills and refinanced our way into a decision: I would no longer work full-time but would instead be home with Logan.

For my son’s first year, our decision meant chopping our family budget in half and being very flexible with my hours in my part-time church position. It meant picking up additional opportunities for income and letting go of unnecessary extras. The complete shift in how we ran our household felt just right because, as every parent knows, a baby changes everything anyway. This new season for our family brought a calling to a new vocation. I am grateful that “stay-at-home mom” is my main gig and that I also get to piece together projects and ministry moments.

Hall familyI have come to understand that ministers are called to seasons of ministry. In our family, there have been seasons for youth ministry, teaching, writing, and pastoral leadership. Listening to the Spirit in each season has meant that we pay attention to those nudges that won’t quit and risk rearranging our household to make room for a new calling. I don’t imagine this season will last forever. I am often reminded that having one parent at home is a privilege not available to every family. Like the privilege found in so many moments of ministry, being present for holy moments—even if they are baptized in cheerios and apple juice these days—affirms that I am just exactly where I need to be in this season.

 

 

 

Erin Robinson Hall holds a Master of Divinity degree from Candler Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia. She has served as minister of congregational life at Heritage Baptist Fellowship in Canton, Georgia, and for nine years taught in the public school systems of North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia. Erin is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. She lives in Macon, Georgia, with her husband, Jake, and their two-year-old son, Logan.

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

Help me to live in solidarity with all people, especially the oppressed ones.

At the same time, help me to recognize that I am only me, a woman with limited time and resources, and that I need to be a good steward of the education, talents and calling that you have given me. Help me to remember that I am not Jesus, the savior, but only a collaborator in his project.

Please keep breaking me and reshaping me on this issue.

-Nora Lozano

This prayer is an excerpt from God have mercy: A Latina prayer, which originally appeared on Baptist News Global.

Psalm 10: The God who Finds Me by Mary Alice Birdwhistell

Why do You stand far off, O Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?–Psalm 10

I heard a sermon recently in which the preacher talked about all the godless cities in the United States, and he listed them by name. His comments struck a nerve within me. I jotted down on a piece of paper, “Can there really be any places where God is not?”

It certainly feels that way sometimes. When we read the newspaper headlines. When bad test results come back from the doctor. When a relationship is broken beyond repair. When tragedy strikes. When life just seems like one giant mess.

It must have felt that way to the psalmist when he wrote, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (10:1) Looking at the circumstances of our lives and the world around us, it is easy to think that sometimes God has just disappeared into the background.

But that is not the message we read in scripture. Instead, all throughout the Bible, we see a God who pursues us and finds us wherever we are . . . even in the messiest of situations.

God finds…

Hagar in the wilderness,

Joseph in a pit,

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace,

Daniel in the lion’s den,

Moses in a basket floating down the river,

Jonah in the belly of a whale,

and Rahab in the city walls of Jericho.

In verse 14 of Psalm 10, the psalmist discovers and proclaims, “[God] does see!” The psalmist then echoes the words of Hagar, who gives God the name El-Roi, meaning “the God who sees me” (Gen. 16:13). God does see us, no matter where we are. Regardless of the circumstances that got us there, there is no corner of our lives that God’s not willing to come find us.

But the tricky part is this: we have to want to be found. Taking that first step and inviting God into the messy, hidden places of our lives can be scary. It means taking a risk. Making ourselves vulnerable. And it means believing in faith that the God who seeks us really will find us, no matter what.

“But you do see!  Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands.” (Psalm 10:14)

Mary Alice Birdwhistell is originally from the beautiful state of Kentucky and a graduate of Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. In 2009, she moved to Waco, Texas, to attend George W. Truett Theological Seminary and joined the staff at Calvary Baptist Church as children’s minister. Upon completing her Master of Divinity degree in 2013, Calvary called her to become their associate pastor. Mary Alice now calls Waco home and considers ministry to be the sacred gift of sharing life with a diverse community of people. She loves the color purple, anything chocolate, coffee shop conversations, and Kentucky basketball.

This is What a Minister Looks Like: Missy Ward Angalla

Every Friday Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing woman minister. Today we are pleased to introduce you to Missy Ward Angalla.

Missy, tell us about your ministry?

I serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship partner-funded field personnel in Kampala, Uganda. I minister among refugee women, girls, and families, who have been traumatized, abused, trafficked and/or are vulnerable to exploitation. The ministry program includes a shelter recovery program for young women affected by severe trauma and exploitation, a vocational training program for women at risk, and a social work program for refugee women, girls and crisis.

What experiences helped you discern this call to ministry?

I felt the call to serve in missions soon after I became a Christian during my high school years. Having been one of the “least of these” within my community, I wanted to share the hope, love, and grace of Christ with others who were hurting, marginalized, and abused. God refined this calling in college as I became aware of the appalling rates of violence against women and treatment of refugee women and girls in our world. I felt called to start the FIRST recovery program for refugee women and girls who have been through violence in a country where there was not yet a program.  While in college and seminary, I had the chance to minister in California among Afghanistan refugee women and then as a Student.Go intern with East African refugees in Uganda. Not only did these experiences affirm and deepen my sense of calling, they also allowed me the invaluable opportunity to learn alongside of incredible CBF field personnel who mentored me and welcomed me to minister alongside of them.

While serving in Uganda in the fall of 2010 as an intern, I felt God calling me back full-time work there to start the first holistic shelter and recovery ministry for refugee women and girls (the first of its kind in Kampala), alongside of the CBF field personnel and organization that I interned with through Student.go.

Who has inspired you in your ministry journey?

Missy and JaneOne of the most precious gifts from God is an incredible community of people who have supported, encouraged, prayed for, and walked with me over the last ten years as I have made this journey in ministry. There are SO many who have inspired me in various ways and at different times. Jane Hull is a woman who has had one of the largest impacts on my life. I met Jane while in seminary at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. Jane is one of the most gifted ministers that I have ever met. While at McAfee, she served as mom/chaplain/friend to countless students. She naturally exudes God’s love, grace, and compassion in profound and powerful ways. Having lost my mom when I was very young, Jane’s friendship was an incredible gift in my life. She was a mom to me and there for me as I processed and went through some of the most painful and joyous experiences. Jane was one of the first female ministers that I had a close relationship and friendship with. Learning more about her and her life opened my eyes to what it meant to minister and serve. The previous baggage and confusion that I had about women in ministry quickly subsided as I witnessed and had the privilege of being apart of God’s incredible work through Jane’s life.

What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is sensing a call to ministry? 

Continue to STEP FORWARD in faith and confidence knowing that you are ABLE through the God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine! 

When I was in college, I dreamed of starting this new ministry in Africa for refugee women. I imagined that it would happen twenty years from then, certainly not when I was in my twenties! God is so amazing and faithful. God does not call us to live life on the sidelines, but in the trenches. God chooses to allow us to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world that is deeply hurting.  As Addie Davis once said ” the world is waiting for YOU!” Our God is waiting to use you to share hope, love and grace with God’s precious children throughout the world.

 

To learn more about Missy’s work in Uganda, visit missyinuganda.com.

Ministry Manners: Grammar, Gestures, and Gadgets by Lynn Brinkley

“But all things should be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:4

In 1 Corinthians 14:40, Paul instructs his readers about proper decorum for exercising spiritual gifts in worship. As an apostle, he encouraged the church at Corinth to ensure that all things that pertain to worship should be conducted decently and in order. The words and actions of those who lead from the pulpit should model godly leadership and reflect excellent pulpit decorum. For this month’s ministry manners blog, I want to suggest three areas a preacher should be mindful of while leading worship from the pulpit—grammar, gestures, and gadgets.

Grammar: The most educated persons in church often sit in the pew and not the pulpit. Therefore, preachers should be mindful to speak clearly, try to eliminate excessive use of pause fillers like, “er, an, uh, and (yes, sometimes) ‘amen.’” And by all means, try to pronounce words correctly! There are numerous online resources that can assist with pronouncing words correctly; so there is really no excuse for the twenty-first century preacher to mispronounce even difficult biblical names such as Mahershalalhashbaz!

Gestures: We all make gestures as we preach whether we are conscious of it or not. Gestures can be a good thing particularly when gestures emphasize what we are trying to say, but be mindful of gestures that might be distracting to others. I have observed preachers who sway constantly as they preach, or bend over the pulpit for support. I have heard others make awkward sounds, or place their hands in their pockets, and even on their hips (you go girl!). One gesture in particular that may be offensive is finger pointing. This gesture often “points to blame or accuse” and might indirectly communicate, “I am better than you!” At the end of the day, gestures are useful. Especially when they come naturally and support what we are trying to say.

Gadgets: I have adopted “iPad preaching, and I love it! However, I have come to learn that preaching from my iPad does involve some risks. When using my iPad, I am always afraid that I forgot to turn off sounds, alerts, or other notifications that might distract me as I preach. An electronic device should be a help not a hindrance in preaching. If using an iPad causes you to lose your place or stumble over words, iPad preaching is not for you! If, however, you are comfortable preaching from your iPad, I HIGHLY recommend that you take some important steps. (1) Bring a hard copy of your sermon with you into the pulpit in case of a technological malfunction. Better to have your manuscript and not need it, than to need it, and not have it! (2) Be sure to turn off all alerts. Perhaps, put the device on airplane mode. It would be poor pulpit etiquette for a device to make a sound during your preaching (3) I believe the Bible should be elevated when reading scripture. Use your iPad for preaching, but allow the congregants to see you hold up a leather-bound Bible as you read the text. I teach a basic Christianity course to young college students who are required to make a church visit as part of the class requirements. One area of feedback I often get from these students is that the preacher failed to read scripture from the Bible. Some even say the preacher never took their Bible into the pulpit (Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!).

Good pulpit etiquette dictates that a preacher will monitor grammar, watch gestures, and secure gadgets. “Let all things  be done decently and in order.”

C. Lynn Brinkley serves as the director of student services and alumni relations at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina. Lynn is also an adjunct professor at Campbell and an ordained minister at First Baptist Church in Clinton.

Ministers Who Marry Ministers by Kristopher Aaron

Many of my seminary friends dated and then married fellow ministers. What I have observed is that as they have graduated, unless the couple serves as co-pastors, one spouse ends up serving a church while the other does something else. That is what has happened for my wife, Clary, and me.

Passionate about both the local church and education, Clary teaches fifth grade math, science, and social studies and is pursuing a Ph.D. in education and social change. I currently serve on staff at a church, one in which Clary is heavily involved. Navigating a dual calling can be difficult. And while we certainly do not have it all figured out, we have learned a few things along the way.

First, any church that calls you or your spouse is calling both you and your spouse. Clary and I are equal partners in marriage and in ministry, regardless of who is on a church staff. I will not serve in a church that does not recognize that we are both equally called and equally gifted, because they will not just be getting one of us, they will be getting both of us. Serving a church that does not recognize equal giftedness will put additional stress and strain on your marriage.

Second, it is important for any place that you move to have ministry and/or career opportunities for your spouse. Your spouse deserves to live out his or her calling just as much as you do. Churches often move at a snail’s pace and the anxiety over finding a church position sometimes pushes ministers into accepting a call without making sure that the church is right for both them and their spouse. Because of this, Clary and I have equal say on any position I accept, and I have equal say about any position that she accepts. Those decisions affect both of us.

Third, realize what a wonderful gift you have. Having a spouse that is seminary-trained not only can be helpful with some practical and logistical details for Sunday morning or Wednesday evening, but more importantly, it provides the minister with a wonderful sounding board. I bounce ideas off of Clary all the time. There is not one sermon that I have preached that Clary has not heard at least twice before Sunday morning. She gives me constructive criticism on both content and delivery, and her feedback is invaluable. I am a better preacher for it, and I think this sharing makes us both better ministers. I get her input on long-range goals and ask her opinion on certain pastoral situations, being sure not to break confidence. Equally important is making sure that I am there for her. One spouse’s job cannot constantly be given preferential treatment over the other’s. I have helped her grade papers, served as a chaperone for school field trips, and helped proofread her own papers for class more times than I can count.

Fourth, protect you and your spouse’s time, especially when it comes to church. People often come to me asking if Clary would be willing to do something. From personal experience, I have learned to always send that person to her to ask. I am the one on staff; she is not. It is not fair for people to expect her to be involved in everything, so I tell people that. I have also discovered that if you don’t manage your time, others will manage it for you. And they will manage your spouse’s time as well—if you let them.

While these words of advice may seem simplistic, some of these lessons are ones we have learned the hard way. When difficult decisions have come our way, we have always handled them together and applied the principle of equality. And I think we have a stronger marriage for it.

Kristopher Aaron is minister of church growth and outreach at Deer Park Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky.

Tuesday Prayer from Baptist Women in Ministry

O God,

Grant that we will follow you and become so committed to your way and your kingdom that we will be able to establish in our lives and in this world a brother and sisterhood, that we will be able to establish here a kingdom of understanding, where men and women will live together as brothers and sisters and respect the dignity and worth of every human being.

In the name and spirit of Jesus.

Amen.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Psalm 8: A Window Seat by Mary Alice Birdwhistell

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory  in the  heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is humankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!–Psalm 8

Whenever I fly, I always request a window seat. To me, there is something completely awe-inspiring about looking out the window at the mystery and beauty of God’s creation. What once was large city becomes a miniature town filled with dollhouses, tiny trees, moving cars, and traffic lights. As the plane takes off, the landscape below becomes smaller and smaller until finally, it disappears completely, and we ascend into the mystery of the clouds. Having a window seat view is a sacred experience.

When we are on the ground, it is easy for us to think that wherever we are and whatever we are doing is the center of the universe. It’s so difficult to see outside of the small box in which we live, isn’t it? But flying helps me to reorient myself and to remember my place in God’s big world. When I leave my miniature world behind and ascend into the clouds, the problems that once seemed so life shattering, like the cranky email I got last week or the ever-increasing tasks on my to-do list, suddenly aren’t all that important anymore.

Every time I fly, I’m reminded just how small and insignificant I am and just how great our God is. I think this might be how the psalmist must have felt when he wrote, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers . . . what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (8:3-4).

Who am I that God would care about me and the seemingly insignificant details of my life? Who am I that God would know my worries and fears, my hopes and dreams? Who am I—a small speck that can’t even be seen from above the clouds—that God would want to know me in such a personal, intimate way? And yet, this is precisely how God feels about each and every one us.

But perhaps as we sit in a window seat, seeing God’s big, beautiful world, our question shouldn’t be “Who am I?” but rather “Who is this God?”

Mary Alice Birdwhistell is originally from the beautiful state of Kentucky and a graduate of Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. In 2009, she moved to Waco, Texas, to attend George W. Truett Theological Seminary and joined the staff at Calvary Baptist Church as children’s minister. Upon completing her Master of Divinity degree in 2013, Calvary called her to become their associate pastor. Mary Alice now calls Waco home and considers ministry to be the sacred gift of sharing life with a diverse community of people. She loves the color purple, anything chocolate, coffee shop conversations, and Kentucky basketball.