Each week Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and this week we are pleased to introduce Kathy Pickett.
Kathy, tell us where you are currently serving in ministry?
I am the senior pastor of Prairie Baptist Church, in Prairie Village, Kansas.
Tell us about your journey to the pastorate.
I served for sixteen years at Holmeswood Baptist church, in south Kansas City, as the pastor of congregational life. Shortly after completing my doctoral work in 2012, I began sensing God’s transitional movement and began praying about what might be next. I didn’t want to move vocationally or by location unless God’s call to do so was very clear. My children and grandchildren, parents, and extended family all live within fifteen minutes of my home, the place I have lived in the same five-mile radius all my life.
At the same time I was being trained as a CBF Dawnings church coach and had a growing interest in congregational consulting and life coaching. My resume had been circulating for a while in both Cooperative Baptist Life and American Baptist life. Even though I discerned the Spirit’s stirring, I was uncertain it was time to leave Holmeswood. Confused about it all, I decided to participate in the Leadership Coaching program of Pinnacle Leadership Associates. The program offered an opportunity to intentionally process and discern the transitional movement I was experiencing.
Following a weekend retreat I was assigned a coach who was assigned to walk with me through the next six months of my journey. A few weeks after the retreat I was sitting in my office and prayed, “God, whatever you are up to, please do something really crazy and make it so clear that I pay attention and know it is you.” Two weeks later I received an email from Richard Olson, pastor emeritus, and one of my professors during my years at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Olson wrote: “Kathy, I just wanted to let you know that I put your name in the pot for the senior pastor position at Prairie Baptist Church.” His email was the “something crazy and clear” that I needed to move forward.
Shortly after receiving the email, I heard from Prairie’s search committee and agreed to enter the search process. I had numerous conversations with my husband and other family members. I continued processing with my coach, praying, and conversing with peers, and I took vacation time to intentionally listen and discern God’s guidance and direction. Almost a year after entering the process, Prairie Baptist church called me to be their next senior pastor, and I said, yes.
Who have been sources of inspiration for you along the way?
My husband and adult children have been my greatest cheerleaders and support crew. My parents and grandmother provided great support and encouragement along the way. Their examples of serving in lay ministry and involving me in church life from the first day I attended church as an infant undergirded my love of church life and ministry foundation.
Above my desk is a picture that inspires me every day. I was approximately two years old when the photo was taken and was standing outside of First Baptist Church, Kansas City, getting ready to attend Easter morning worship. Standing there in my little white gloves, I am surrounded by two grandmas, a great-grandmother, a great aunt, and my mother who was pregnant with my sister. Each woman has inspired me to believe in myself and in our Triune God, who calls both women and men to serve in ministry.
The week I recognized my call to ministry in 1998, I was attending Passport Camp as a youth parent counselor. Colleen Burroughs was the camp pastor and preached an amazing sermon. It was the first time I had ever heard a woman preach. As I sat there watching and listening to her, I thought “I want to do that, I could do that.” Later that week another youth leader said, “Kathy, do you think God is calling you to ministry?” In January of 1999, I enrolled at Central Baptist Theological Seminary where women and men professors, staff, and students inspired me every class and campus experience. Our president, Molly T. Marshall, encouraged us all to go back to the roots of our call when discerning our way. All of this, with every step of my journey, has inspired me to keep moving forward, even when I was unclear of God’s transitional movement.
What are some practices that you embrace to keep yourself healthy–physically, emotionally, spiritually?
I pay close attention to my physical and mental health. For me, this is extremely important for staying healthy in all areas. I struggle to keep autoimmune thyroiditis under control. The disease attacks all functions of the body often resulting in greater anxiety and provoking depression. As a result, and with the added stress and demands of my current position, I take an anti-depressant along with thyroid medication to maintain a healthy mental balance. When I begin to tip over the edge I consult with my husband and children, and ask what they are seeing in my behavior. Most of the time I am fully aware of myself because I do pay close attention will head straight to the counselor as necessary.
After a very challenging start at Prairie including three deaths in the first two months followed by the death of my ninety-four-year-old grandmother, I hired a coach to help me find my way through the first year. I also agreed to participate in a monthly phone gathering conversation with three other women in ministry prompted by Pam Durso’s desire to support women in pastoral positions.
I am horrible about exercising like I should, but always feel so much better when I do. Shortly into the new position I realized I was sitting way more than I had in the past and purchased a desk stand for my laptop. As often as I can I stand to work. I do make it to the gym when my husband is going as well, but only three times a week. Sleep is precious and important to function, and, can be a really good excuse!
My spiritual practices include making sure I take my day off, prayer, sermon prep is a spiritual adventure, doing something creative including sewing, photography, writing Haiku’s, singing, and spending time with my family and grandchildren. When my husband and I can, we take weekend trips and vacations away from the Kansas City area. I discovered how renewing and important these trips are when we celebrated an anniversary in La Jolla, California a few years ago. When my feet hit the sand and I stood before the ocean, unexpected tears came strolling down. I proceeded to cry for at least thirty minutes as I let go of the stress and demands of ministry and life. Once I pulled myself back together I said, “Wow, I didn’t know how badly I needed this.” Paying attention to spiritual, physical, and emotional health is a must for this work we are called to do.