THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Kasey Jones

Each week Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and this week we are pleased to introduce Kasey Jones.

Kasey, tell us how you are currently serving in ministry?

I serve as senior pastor of National Baptist Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., and I also am the past moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your ministry journey?

One of the biggest challenges I face is self-care. Too often, my study and preparation for ministry has replaced the time I need with God to nurture my personal relationship. They are not one and the same. My personal nourishment and growth suffers, and thus my ability to lead suffers. Accountability partners and peer learning groups have been helpful to keep a better balance, but it is an ongoing struggle.

What do you love best about your ministry position?

Through the ministry of the local church I love working with folks to recognize God is working in their personal lives and in our ministry. Also, I love when our ministry is the presence of Christ in our community through meaningful service and relationships with residents, churches, and organizations.

With my service on the governing board of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), I love being part of the transformative work taking place. As a relatively young organization, CBF has made very real and meaningful contribution throughout the world. It has been great being part of a team that helps us own our story. Although the discourse regarding denominationalism centers on decline, CBF story centers on local and global mission efforts that impact lives.

Dear Addie: I Really Need a Day OFF

Dear Addie,
 
I am several months into a new ministry position and am enjoying the experience very much. But today, on my day off, I am wondering what the “proper” protocol is for ministers on their days off. Am I supposed to answer emails today? Take phone calls? Should the office give out my cell number and put calls through to me? I don’t think we covered “day off” guidelines in seminary. Help!
 
Just Wanting Some Peace and Quiet

Dear Peace and Quiet,

Congratulations on your new ministry position! Setting boundaries early in your tenure will be helpful for you and your congregation.

Prepare an automatic response on your work email account that is triggered on your day off to notify senders that you will not be reading your email until you are back in the office. Include a sentence that instructs them who to call if they need a reply that day (Hint: It’s not you). Allow calls that come to your cellphone or home phone to go to voicemail; then you can listen to the message before deciding whether the call merits a response that day (Hint: It probably doesn’t). Just because someone calls you at home doesn’t mean you are obligated to respond immediately. Do not instruct the church office to give out your cell number on your day off. Provide the office with guidelines about what constitutes an emergency – you likely want to be notified of a birth, a death, a hospitalization, or some other time-sensitive situation.

Although you may feel awkward initially having these conversations with office staff and congregants, remember that this is a teachable moment. By modeling how to carve out time for rest and reflection, you are empowering others to do the same in their personal lives. You will be more creative, more engaged, and more effective in your ministry if you make time for Sabbath rest.

Get some rest!
Addie

One Calling in Two Locations by Starlette McNeill

“So, you’re going to do both?” Unfortunately, this response was the one I heard from most people when they learned of my accepting the call to serve as the minister to empower congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention while also serving part-time as the associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland. The new title is a mouth-full, I know. But still, there were no high fives or pats on the back. Not a single one of them said, “Congratulations.”

I was already serving part-time at Village Baptist Church when I added this new position at the D.C. Baptist Convention, which is also part-time. So, it wasn’t as if I was going above and beyond the call of duty. Twenty hours plus twenty hours equals forty hours. Full-time.

To be sure, my time commitment exceeds forty hours every single week, but my mind will never be on a time clock. So, I scribble down notes, record messages on my iPhone for future presentations, and order books for the next training or sermon. For me, this work has never been business, only pleasure. Writing has always been my primary means of creating and self-discovery. Who wants to limit that?

But the looks that accompanied the “so you’re going to do both” question were of surprise, confusion, and maybe even denial. People could not believe their ears. These poor souls had not considered the possibility of both/and— though the reality already exists in the lives of my male counterparts. The question seemed to suggest that I was doing the impossible, defying the odds or performing a magic trick. But, there was also something else.

At least one braveheart asked directly about my role as a mother and feigned concern for my son. His sad eyes offered the future face of my suffering child. When I asked if he had to consider the fate of his children when he accepted his call to pastor, the conversation abruptly changed. Obviously, there are those who still believe that a woman’s place is always and at all times inside the home.

Yet multitasking is not a new concept for women, who balance the checkbook while balancing a baby bottle with her chin, who cook dinner and check homework, who pick up groceries and children from sports practice. We have always had more than one job. I would not be surprised if a woman invented the practice, as we are great jugglers of the traveling circus we call family. Up under our roofs, we tame wild teenagers, jump through hoops to get our toddler to go to bed, and seemingly fly through the air without a net to get everything done before landing in the bed. So, what’s two offices in two cities?

For me, multitasking is normal. I don’t wear a cape to work or travel with a sidekick. Alhough I wasn’t certain of how working two jobs in two locations would work, I was sure that it would because it was the same Voice and the same calling— just in two locations.

Starlette McNeill serves as the associate pastor at Village Baptist Church, Bowie, Maryland, where she enjoys reading, writing, and going to Starbucks. She is a wife and the mother of an amazing two-year-old named John.

Epiphany 4: So Much for the Good News

Epiphany 4 (1/31/15)

Jer. 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
1 Cor. 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30

I assure you that no prophet is welcome in the prophet’s hometown. (Luke 4:24, CEB)

Jesus spoke aloud the prophecies of Isaiah to the gathered congregation, and at his words the prophet’s dream became real: Good News! Release! Sight! Liberation! The worshippers were amazed by Jesus: Joseph’s son had such an understanding of the ancient texts, such faith in God’s goodness to us, such a gracious way of speaking!

Then, over the course of just five verses, Jesus managed to turn their admiration into anger. They’d been ooh-ing and aah-ing over this local-boy-made-good; surely he was tempted to keep quiet and soak up their compliments! But he already knew how fickle they were; before even they knew they would turn on him, he predicted: “No prophet is welcome in the prophet’s hometown.” Why? Because the homefolks don’t want to hear that they don’t have exclusive rights to good news, release, sight, liberation? Because the homefolks don’t want their child–the one they invested in, the one who bears their lineage and speaks with their accent–to become the advocate for outsiders? Or because they don’t want him coming home to tell them that “their” promises will be fulfilled in someone else?

Maybe they felt they had been baited-and-switched. Maybe they felt so possessive of God’s promises that they’d rather the prophecies not come true, than for them to come true for anybody else. Maybe they simply felt betrayed by one of their own, one who should have been speaking for them (not preaching at them!).

Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion take place in Luke 22 and 23; but here, in the earliest days of his ministry, is a glimpse of what is to come. The people are not just disappointed in him or frustrated with him. With just a few words from Jesus, they have gone from proud and impressed to outrageously angry. They are so full of rage that they try to throw him off a cliff; better to break a commandment than to allow such impudence!

The promises have become real, yet in their anger the people remain unfulfilled. So much for the good news; turns out they are still poor, still captive, still oppressed. Turns out, in spite of the light they have seen, they are still blind.
 

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.

THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Griselda Escobar

Each week Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and this week we are thrilled to introduce you to Griselda Escobar.

Griselda, tell us how you are currently serving in ministry?
I am a chaplain for Christus Spohn Health System in Corpus Christi, Texas. The hospital that I serve has about 120 beds and an Emergency Department. The Mother/Baby Unit is the main component, but the hospital also has a general medicine floor and one medical Intensive Care Unit. The Mother/Baby units consist of Labor and Delivery, Nursery, Post-Partum and two Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

As a chaplain, I visit patients and their families, and I provide support to staff. Being in the hospital as a patient is one of the most vulnerable situations any of us have to face. Patients are dealing with illness, which is times life threatening. They may feel weak, scared, or many times alone. During these circumstances, patients need to know that someone is there for them, someone with no agenda other than to be a supportive presence. Support looks different from patient to patient. Support can be listening, praying, reading, and crying with someone. It also can be accompanying them outside so they can have a smoke, bringing them coffee or flowers, or simply letting them know someone is available. Chaplaincy has many different looks.

Families experience the hospital differently from the patient and also have the need to share, cry and grieve. Families may feel powerless or helpless when their loved one is going through something they can’t change. Accompanying a family member while their loved one is in the hospital can validate their value as someone who is doing more for the patient than they realize. Accompanying a family member also gives them the freedom to talk about their regrets and guilt safely. When a death happens, my role is to give space to families so that they can grieve even while they are surrounded by strangers.

Another privilege I have is accompanying staff. Medical professionals have very difficult jobs. Theirs is a holy task. Nurses accompany their patients from the moment they arrive to the moment the patient leaves. They are there when the physician, the chaplain, the social worker, and all others are gone. They see the patient at their worse and serve them in nonjudgmental ways, with compassion and with diligence because the patient’s lives depend on their care. Physicians also have difficult jobs in providing life giving care, giving hope when they get the worse of results and knowing when something is out of their hands. All hospital staff daily encounter their own difficulties, pains, and joys, but they have to put all of those aside to focus on the patients they have that day. This is no easy task! They also carry other’s burdens alongside them. Listening to staff who have had a difficult day, who have life circumstances is just as sacred as accompanying the patient who has received a painful diagnosis. Knowing that they are not alone impacts the care they provide their patients.

As a chaplain I am honored to be allowed into people’s sacred spaces and accompany them.

What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your ministry journey?
One of my greatest challenges as a chaplain has been separating myself from the patient and their circumstance. Initially, as I began chaplaincy work, this was very apparent, but now it seems more subtle. I remember one of my firsts calls as a chaplain in which a high school age young man had a fall that caused him to hit his head just in the worse spot. He was declared brain dead. I accompanied his parents, extended family, youth group, school friends, and many people who came to the hospital to visit him. I remember going back to the spiritual care office and asking God for a miracle because I could not imagine what his parents were feeling. I remembered my cousin who died at the age of sixteen and the pain her parents went through and the loss I experienced. I thought of my son and feared I might not have him long enough and wanted to see God do something miraculous. I was taking this family’s pain and making it mine. I was shifting my focus from them to me. I was not called to change their circumstance, or to make it mine, Over time I learned that I was called to accompany them no matter their circumstance.

Today I see this struggle in me in a subtle way as I go home after a difficult day or week and feel sad for no apparent reason, cry because my meal is not as I thought it would be, or struggle to enjoy the moment. I grapple with realizing I’m still carrying someone else’s burdens that are not mine to carry.

Galatians 6 has two passages that were spoken to me through a fellow chaplain and help me in the process. Verse 2 says “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Verse 5 says “For all must carry their own load.” We all carry our own burdens and carrying someone else’s will not cause their burden to be less. When we accompany someone and help out in those burdens that are too heavy to carry alone I bear that burden alongside them, but it is still theirs, and I cannot take it with me. I have my own burdens to bear. I don’t want to confuse my burdens with theirs, because that is not fair to the patient. My life experiences inform how I do ministry, but my burdens are still mine and theirs are theirs.

As a chaplain, I need to be present with the people I accompany as I come alongside them and help bear their burden, but I also need to be intentional about leaving it there in God’s hands, the best hands.

What brings you great joy in life and ministry?
My husband and my son are great sources of joy. They strengthen me, affirm me, and encourage me. Serving alongside them makes all that I do more meaningful. As a family we play together, dance together, cry together, and make meaning of life together. Living life with them brings me joy. Wonder has been one of the greatest gifts I have received in life and in ministry. I find joy in the little things! I find joy in drinking a coffee in the morning with the priest who I work with as we talk about ministry. I find joy in the unexpected hug, the laughter caused by watching my dog explore, playing video games with my son that I don’t understand and that he has to explain again and again, or drinking tea with my husband before bed. It’s the little things that continually remind me of God’s persistent love. These small joys make me feel truly loved.

What is the best ministry advice you have ever received?
Recently, I have been pondering the idea of moving out of chaplaincy ministry into a different ministry position. I read the book Five Hundred Miles: Reflections on Calling and Pilgrimage by Lauren Brewer Bass, and it was refreshing to me at this time of pondering about my calling again. I received so much advice concerning accepting one’s calling through reading the book, and I realized that calling is not always specific. I am not called to be a chaplain, a church pastor, or ministerial professor. I am called. Period. For the last five or six years, my calling has come in the form of chaplaincy and in accompanying other in the setting of a hospital or hospice, but earlier in my life, I answered my calling through youth ministry, children’s ministry, and women’s ministry, even if I did not have an official title. I know that the Lord can call me back to church ministry, or to serve my community through a non-profit organization. I have learned that no matter where I am serving or how, I am answering my calling. This year I will complete, along with my husband, ten years of ordained ministry, and I feel excited, humbled, and blessed that the Lord has done so much in my life and in my family since our ordination. I look back and think of the journey and I can’t believe I am here. The Lord is good, and I am ready for my next journey as long as the Lord is leading.

Six Stages of Inviting a Woman to Preach

Why should you invite a woman to preach in your church during Martha Stearns Marshall Month, this February? Well, it depends on where your church is along the pathway of accepting women in ministry. Whether you are at the “Been-there-done-that!-Have-two-women-pastors-and-a-T-shirt-to-prove-it” stage or the “We’ve-heard-that-women-can-preach-but-oh-my-goodness-can-we-do-that?” stage, you should choose a Sunday in February and invite a woman to preach. Let me tell you what I mean. Here are six stages of why you should invite a woman to preach:

Stage 1: “We’ve-heard-that-women-can-preach-but-oh-my-goodness-can-we-do-that?” If your church is at this early stage of accepting women as pastors and preachers, then it is high time you get more experience! Women do not bite. Although their preaching might have some teeth. So make your invitation today. You are in for a treat. You can do this!

Stage 2: “We’ll-probably-get-kicked-out-of-something-if-we-have-a-woman-preach.” If your church is at this stage, it is time to take a risk. Perhaps getting kicked out of your association or state convention will be about as devastating as getting kicked out of the Book of the Month Club. It’s a loss you can handle, and you might have been in the wrong club anyway!

Stage 3: “Oh-yes-we-support-women!-We-heard-one-preach-here . . . Umm-two-years-ago?” Put your money where your mouth is. Support for women in ministry can’t be in word only! Invite a current member of your church or another woman to preach, and take her out to lunch. Give her an honorarium: at least the same amount you would give a male supply preacher! Don’t just talk about your support. Show it!

Stage 4: “But-we-have-women-on-staff-already!” Perfect. Ask one of them to preach in February. If it is not among her regular duties, this is an opportunity for her, and for you as a congregation, to stretch and grow. Participating in MSM Month will affirm the value of women’s leadership as well as this particular woman’s value to your church! If you and she are really sure that it is not her gift or desire, then invite another woman to preach! Need a name? Ask Baptist Women in Ministry, and they will help you find a woman near you!

Stage 5: “But-we-just-called-a-woman-to-be-our-pastor!” Great! And you might have MSM Month to thank as one of the many ways she found support for her call to ministry! Or perhaps MSM Month helped open up your congregation to be ready to call her as your pastor. Opening and widening the vocational pathway to ministry for more women is a great reason for churches – even those with female pastors – to observe MSM Month every year!

Stage 6: “Been-there-done-that!-Have-two-women-pastors-and-a-T-shirt-to-prove-it!” If your church is this far down the path of accepting women’s preaching and pastoral leadership, then MSM Month is an even bigger gift for you! It gives you an opportunity to a) bring a seminary or a college student into your pulpit and expand your church’s teaching and encouraging role with the newly called; b) give your pastor a respite from weekly preaching while still enjoying worship with you; c) make a more prophetic and public stand for the sake of women in ministry; and d) build a culture of calling and support for women and men to engage in ministries of shared leadership.

Whatever stage you find yourself, Martha Stearns Marshall Month is for you! Now pull out that calendar . . . February is just around the corner!

________________

* For more about the woman, Martha Stearns Marshall, click here. To learn more about MSM Month, click here.

Eileen Campbell-Reed is coordinator for coaching, mentoring and internship/associate professor of practical theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee and co-director of the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project. She blogs at Keeper of the Fire and tweets @ecampbellreed.

The Treasure Within by Carol Harston

The small pieces littered my grandmother’s table. I tried to organize them by color to help him but I realized he could do it on his own. I celebrate his independence but it still pokes and prods my comfort level with letting go of his need for me. The Lego rocket and truck set is nearly complete.

The room in my grandparents’ home is quiet while his younger brother naps. Time whispers moments long gone of three rowdy boys who used to wreak mischievous havoc on one another. The boys are grown and long moved on. This boy of mine is on his way, too.

I stare at him to try to remember it all. His new disdain for getting his photo taken causes me to work harder to take the mental snapshot. My heart tries to take it all in – the shape of his cheeks, the mouth held still as he focuses, his eyes shifting from instructions to pieces. Even if he allowed, a photo could not capture the moment for the treasure of the moment is not what is seen with the eye but what is felt in the heart.

When the shepherds left and the choirs ceased, Luke tells us, “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). When they returned to home after the Temple incident where she yelled at the Son of God in front of everyone, Luke tells us, “His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

Mary’s treasure chest held the sweet memories of shepherds and the bittersweet memories of anxiety over such a great responsibility. It held the times when she must have wondered if her expanding treasure chest could fit within her human frame – the way I feel sometimes when life brings more than I can even wrap my arms around.

As the trajectory became clear that Jesus’ life was beyond anything that she could contain or control, the treasure chest became all the more important. It was the place that stored her remembrances as she let go of his physical presence with her.

So I practice cherishing the memories and letting go of the moments.

The moment is brief. It is an exact point of time that cannot be retained, accumulated, or compiled for later. It is only to be lived as it comes. Our grasping at the moments as they pass is surely comical for the saints who watch. The saints know that the days are not ours to hold. The saints know that the moments belong to the Holy Source that never promises possession of days but only the blossoms that bloom when remembering them.

The memory lasts. When we take the efforts to cherish the moments as they come and the time to ruminate on them when they are past, they fill the treasure chest within us. The treasure chest is more than scrapbooks that gloss over difficulty or social media posts that boast life’s sweetness. The treasure chest is our greatest source of wisdom for the future and strength for the present. It is the place where divine light reveals truth and grants meaning for our days.

May the light pour forth over the treasure chest within as we share its gifts with those around us so that when our memories do fade as time passes, the gifts have already found their home in another’s treasure chest. And so the story goes on, passed from one generation to another to the glory of the One who grants our days and fills our treasures chests.
 

Carol Harston has served as minister to youth at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, since 2007. Outside of youth ministry, Carol has her hands full as a mom to James (4) and Collier (2) and wife to Drew (orthopedic surgery resident and faithful youth volunteer).

Epiphany 3: Going Home by Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

Epiphany 3 (January 24, 2016)

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Luke 4:14-21

Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it. (Luke 4:21b, CEB)

What do you do after forty days of fasting, after being challenged by the Devil himself? When you’ve chosen hunger over bread, declined kingdoms, balanced on the tips of temples?

You go home.

After the wilderness, the fasting, the temptations, Jesus went home to Nazareth. He went to his home synagogue to worship, and the people there still knew him from the old days. The assistant handed him the scroll, and Joseph’s son stood to read. Maybe the old folks gazed at him with pride, as they do in congregations everywhere when the kids they raised up in faith come home to visit. Maybe they whispered “Remember when’s to one another. Maybe they smiled as he flawlessly pronounced the hardest words, and maybe they had to adjust their hearing to discern the changed inflections of his speech, and the new layers of confidence in his manner.

He read to them from the prophet Isaiah; familiar words, beloved words. Promises to cling to, hopes for a future: good news for the poor (that’s us!). Release to prisoners (that’s us!). Sight to the blind (that’s us!). Liberation of the oppressed (that’s us, too!). The Lord’s favor will be ours. Thanks be to God!

But wait, there’s more! It’s not just a “someday” thing, Jesus told them. Isaiah wrote the words, but the Lord’s favor begins here. The Lord’s favor begins now. Even while the home folks heard the prophecy being read, Jesus said, the words were coming true! The worshipers who gathered that day were not merely rehearsing familiar texts, they were witnessing a long-awaited work of Yahweh. For generations they had prayed, hoped, expected, longed for the prophet’s words to become a reality. As Jesus, the hometown boy, read the scripture, the sound they heard was more than accents and alphabets, more than syllables and sentences.

The sound was shackles dropping to the ground. It was growling stomachs satisfied. It was the shock of light in darkened eyes. It was cheering crowds tasting their first freedom.

The sound was the people at worship.

The sound was the Spirit of God.
 

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.

THIS IS WHAT A MINISTER LOOKS LIKE: Rhonda Blevins

Each week Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing woman in ministry, and this week we are pleased to introduce Rhonda Blevins.

Rhonda, tell us about your current ministry.
I have been serving as the executive coordinator of the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship since August 2015. I was previously the associate coordinator for KBF from 2005 to 2007. I came back to KBF after serving in a local parish in Tennessee for about eight years. The focus of my ministry in Kentucky is building community among Kentucky Baptist churches and individuals.

What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your ministry journey?
When I think about challenges in ministry, I think about the last two years of my tenure as a campus minister. A crisis of faith prompted by personal loss happened at the same time that it was becoming clear that I could no longer remain in the denomination that had been my home since childhood. I was questioning biblical literalism, which was simultaneously frightening and freeing. My understanding of God was expanding. Though I wasn’t sure that I could stay in ministry given my questions, I was disappointed and angered by my denomination’s hard stance against women. Eventually, I lost my job as a campus minister, which was all I had imagined ever doing. Though not unexpected, it was a crushing blow. Within a few months, however, the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship took a chance on me. It’s difficult to express the new-found freedom I experienced within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship family. I have found a home where my ordination is accepted, and I can practice a faith beyond bibliolatry.

What brings you great joy in life and ministry?
Given my personal journey, the greatest joy in my ministry is creating space for individuals to express their faith however compelled. That’s the beauty of CBF–the great diversity of thought and practice. It’s all about freedom. That’s a compelling vision for my ministry practice. On a more personal level, nothing brings me more joy than spending quality time with my family and friends.

How do you keep yourself healthy–spiritually and physically?
Because I crave diversity of experience, I am not one to adopt rigid routines. I used to get down on myself about that. While others can pray every day at 6 a.m. and run every day for years on end, that’s not me. I have discovered a number of ways to stay physically and spiritually healthy, and I like to mix it up. So I can tell you what I’m doing lately, but ask me in a couple of months and it will probably be different! So right now I’m using the “Couch to 5k” app with the hopes to run a 5k in the spring, and I’m picking back up a fledgling yoga practice. Yoga, for me, combines spiritual and physical health into one exercise. Spiritual practice right now also includes reading Grounded by Diana Butler Bass in the evening and practicing contemplative prayer in the morning. I have a ministry coach–meeting with my coach helps me maintain balance and stay healthy.

Ministering Through Imposter Syndrome by Alyssa Aldape

Day 67: Still ordained. They haven’t figured out I’m internally freaking out.

I was ordained two months ago. I wore my most woman-preacher-power blazer and sensible flats. We sang my favorite hymns, mentors gave me advice, grandparents read scripture, and I cried. A lot.

Two months later I still cannot believe that my ordination happened. I keep thinking that someone is going to hear me tell a bad joke or get Peter and Paul confused and revoke my ordination certificate. This feeling that I snuck into the party without being invited has been with me since college. I used to wonder if one day a professor was going to confiscate my student ID and say I’d been caught. In seminary, I knew the day would come when what I thought was a good sermon was actually inspirational poster quotes strung together for thirteen pages. Those things never happened, but . . .

I imagine myself walking through life with Groucho Marx glasses on my face, hoping no one calls my bluff. There is a term for this: Imposter Syndrome, which describes people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments despite their competence. They think that it was luck or perfect timing that helped them get a job or finish a project. I have struggled with Imposter Syndrome for a long time, and I’m pretty sure I am not alone.

I like to think that the disciples had the same feeling. Maybe they counted the days until Jesus would discover they had no idea what they were doing. But the good news is that Jesus knew who he was getting when he invited them to be his disciples. And he accepted who they were and knew they were capable of much more with him. This is why I love the story in John 21 so much. Jesus’ three questions to Peter about his love for him counters Peter’s three denials of Jesus. Jesus constantly redeems us and gives us the power we need to step out of the shadow of self doubt. I think this is why Jesus had twelve disciples instead of just one or two. I think he knew they would need partners on the journey who understood their struggles and stood with them in times of in doubt and and times of assurance.

When imposter feelings start to creep up on me unannounced, I think of the sea of people in the chapel on the day of my ordination who prayed over me and reminded me of God’s gracious love through community. I remember the whispered words of encouragement that people spoke over me as they passed by the kneeling bench. I did not feel like an imposter that day in October.

Ordination does not make us holier or make us better than the people who affirm us. Ordination is the time when we witness the physical proof of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of both the minister and the village who brought them up and shaped their story. Ordination is a reminder that God sees beyond our Groucho Marx glasses and knows we are good enough. (Hey, that phrase would be neat on a poster!)

Alyssa Aldape is interim minister of community ministry and missions at First Baptist Church, Dalton, Georgia.