Each Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Danielle L. Bridgeforth.
Danielle, tell us about your ministry journey, the places and ways you have been serving and are serving.
I currently serve as senior pastor at the Church at Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia. I came on staff here in October of 2017. I have been in ministry since 2007 and have served a local church, either full-time or part-time, since 2008. I did take an almost three-year respite for serving a local church body to work as the director of enrollment at a seminary in Arlington, Virginia directly before being called to pastor Clarendon.
Prior to my time at the seminary, I served on staff for six years at a large Baptist church in Alexandria, Virginia. While there, I served as the youth pastor, an associate pastor and the assistant to the senior pastor. This is where I truly “cut my teeth” in ministry and learned what it means to walk with a local congregation as a pastor and friend.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest source of joy is the sense of peace and fulfillment that I get from serving God’s people and preaching the Gospel. I often say that I am humbled to be able to wake up each morning and know that I am being and doing what God has designed for my life. Another great source of joy in ministry is when I get to see and hear, from the former youth (now young adults) that I have pastored over the years. I recently received the most touching note from one such individual who just graduated from college. Her perspective and the kind words she shared about what my example has meant to her life and faith development encouraged, delighted and inspired me.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
I would categorize the challenges I have encountered in ministry in two ways. They have been internal and external. Externally, I have dealt with those who could not, or would not, recognize and support the call of God on my life, especially in terms of my pastoral gifting. Nevertheless, this was relatively minor because at each stage of my ministry development, God has placed people around me who have been extremely supportive and who modeled excellence, integrity and godliness for me.
Internally, I have had to face self-doubt and insecurities about my calling and about my abilities. One thing that I learned in seminary is that the preacher will always struggle on some level to understand and embrace their call. While that may sound negative, that knowledge has actually been a source of peace for me along my journey. When I get down, discouraged or confused in ministry, I remember that it is just a part of the life-cycle of being in ministry. So, I look for Christ to meet me there and bring me through. He always does.
How do you stay healthy, physically and spiritually?
Honestly, this is a constant battle, especially in this current season as I am settling into this new assignment. Nonetheless, I do have a self-care regiment. Spiritually, I maintain my times of personal devotion, study and prayer. I do not just study and read the Bible to prepare to minister, but also to keep my relationship with God vibrant and growing. Physically, I have a membership at a spa and so I steal away, albeit inconsistently, to just relax and get refreshed. Emotionally and mentally, I journal and I am also connected to a strong, deep and wide network of friends and family who encourage me and help me maintain balance. I have developed and invested in relationships which require me to be present, accountable, and responsible. So, I don’t get too many opportunities to isolate myself, which in ministry is very easy to do. Like I said at the start, this is all a work in progress!
What is the best ministry advice you have been given?
The best advice I have received came from my Mother and has been echoed over the years by others. It is quite simply to be myself. God is creative, innovative and deliberate. God wants to use my voice, personality and style under the influence of Holy Spirit. So, I need not seek to mimic others. My uniqueness is an asset, not a liability, in ministry and in life.