I am in the tenth month of my first senior pastor position. Living out this calling to pastor in a world where women are few and far between is not only daunting and exhausting but lonely. The loneliness can manifest itself in multiple, unhealthy ways.
Feeling all alone leads to depression. “Am I worthy of this calling? Maybe, I should do something else, something easier where I feel like I’m making a bigger difference in the world.”
Feeling all alone leads to self-doubt. “Who am I to think that I can lead God’s people? I’m too young, too inexperienced. Who will follow a woman not even thirty-years-old?”
Feeling all alone leads to super-egoism. “I am the only one willing to do this work. Who else is up for the challenge? Only me! I must carry the torch all by myself even if it kills me.”
Loneliness lies to the soul of a pastor, filling our heads with false truth.
Last year, I received a phone call at the beginning of advent, almost two months to the day I started at the church. I was already feeling the pressures of the pastorate. Advent was just beginning and I longed for the day after Christmas.
I answered the phone to hear Pam Durso’s voice on the other end. She asked if I would be interested in joining a mentoring group for young female pastors across the country. Looking back now the question seems almost silly. “YES,” I laughed to myself. Why in God’s good and gracious name would I pass on such an opportunity?
The following month I met five incredible women at a retreat in Alabama. They shared my burdens, my depressing thoughts, my feelings of self-doubt, and even my inflated super-ego. Each month, we continue to meet online seeing each other’s faces and hearing each other’s voices.
I am almost through my first year of pastoring and the truth I cling to is “I am not alone.” These women remind me that I can do the work God has called me to do, that I can lead God’s people. I continue to pastor because I know deep down we are stronger together.
If you receive a call from Pam about a mentoring group, laugh and say, “Yes!”
Erica Whitaker is senior pastor of Buechel Park Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky.