I am a thirty-seven-year-old ordained minister, seminary graduate, and a mother of three elementary school-aged children. I have served in a variety of ways in the past twelve years, piecing together positions, doing pulpit supply, and writing some. And now there is a position available to me in a nearby church. In some ways, this position and this church are an ideal match for me. It is a part-time position, and I would be working with teenagers and college students. I would have time at home with my children, be able to preach some, and make use of my pastoral care skills.
The drawback for me is that I have always felt a strong call to the pastorate. Doors never opened for me to pursue that calling, and I continue to grieve the loss of that dream.
Now I need to make a decision about this opportunity. The church that I am talking with is really special, but I worry that the position would frustrate me and that I might not be able to adjust to working with young people.
Any advice? I am wide open to suggestions, ideas, prayers!
Still Hoping to be a Pastor
Dear Hoping to be a Pastor,
You have learned the hard way that the doors of opportunity in ministry do not swing open as freely for women as they do for men. You are grieving an unfulfilled dream to be a pastor, yet I would encourage you to be patient and prayerful. After all, you are only thirty-seven years old. While you may feel that you are far behind seminary classmates who were on the fast track to the pastorate–those who walked straight out of the classroom and into the pastor’s office–God willing, your dream may still come to pass. A pastoral biological clock is not a ticking one. God can and does call women and men of all ages to serve as pastors.
In the meantime, a door of opportunity stands open before you. This church is special for you, and you already have a sense of how you can use your gifts in this place. You recognize the benefits of being able to be present with your children during these critical years in their lives. I think the opportunities by far outweigh the challenges.
If you choose to walk through this door, you may discover that God will then lead you to another open door. You can trust that none of your experiences will be wasted in God’s economy. Through your prior service, your writing, your preaching, and your parenting, God has been shaping you–preparing you for what comes next. Hold on to your dream. In the meantime, serve the Lord with gladness.