Each week Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister and this week we are thrilled to introduce Jillian Farmer.

Jillian, tell us where and how are you currently serving in ministry?
I’m currently the associate pastor to youth at Kirkwood Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri.

What have been some of the challenges you have faced in your ministry journey?
Figuring out how to be a single woman in ministry is tough. I came to Kirkwood Baptist Church straight from seminary and had only been to St. Louis once before starting the call process at KBC. As I began my life here, I wasn’t just working through the learning curve of my first call, I was also trying to figure out life in a brand new city as a single woman. Thankfully, the people of KBC became my family in very real ways, inviting me to their homes for meals and making sure I had all the things I needed. But, I was still not prepared for the challenges of doing ministry as a single person. It’s hard to be a single person in a world that feels like it’s created for couples. I think the concept and practical concerns, challenges, and details of single ministers entering congregational life is a growing edge for most churches and seminaries.

Recently, I have also been journeying through a season of my ministry that has been filled with difficult decisions and a serious need for improved communication and healing. I call this difficult season a journey because I’m confident there is much to be learned along the way. I’m also hopeful that when I get to the end of this journey, my ministry and I will be in a better, wiser place.

What brings you great joy in life and ministry?
My youth bring me so much joy. A few months ago, I opened my computer on a Monday morning to find the screensaver had been changed to a cat, wearing a headband and riding a unicorn through a field with a technicolor rainbow background. This wasn’t how I had left things and I quickly figured out that the two boys who’d used my computer to “look something up” before the Sunday night’s youth event had made some changes for me. I have no plans to change the background anytime soon.

Being able to go to the youths’ school events, or having youth group alumni text me about the challenges they’re facing and the incredibly mature choices they’re making, is so special. I’m so blessed to be included in the lives of these gifted, intelligent, sassy youth who are growing into young adults with faith-centered lives.

How do you keep yourself healthy–spiritually and physically?
During my second year here, Kirkwood Baptist Church made it possible for me to take part in the Center for Teaching Churches through The McAfee School of Theology. For two years, I had a professional coach, a peer group, and a Ministerial Support Committee made up of KBC members, and I don’t have enough words for how formative that program was. Though my time in the program is now over, it has had long-lasting effects on my ministry. In 2015, my Ministerial Support Committee became my Ordination Committee, and walked with me through the ordination process. I was able to create an ecumenical peer group that I still meet with monthly, and I continue to work with a professional coach. All of these things are part of my arsenal for keeping healthy spiritually. I also recently discovered the Sacred Ordinary Days Liturgical Day Planner. As someone who doesn’t enjoy devotional books, it’s a resource that both appeals to the list-maker in me, and reminds me to center my day in scripture.

Physical health is something I struggled with in the first few years of my ministry. I had to learn, after several bouts of pushing too hard and getting ill, that rest really is a good thing. And that if I listen to my body, it’ll tell me when I need a break. I’m still working to balance all the pieces of a truly healthy life, but I am much more aware of my physical limitations and needs than I was when I started my ministry.