Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features an interview with an amazing minister on this blog. Today, we are thrilled to interview, Miriam Phillips. Miriam IS what a minister looks like!

Miriam, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving. 

It’s funny to think about my ministry journey as I would say my “official” start was thirty-one years ago when I was ordained. The “he ha-ha” is I used to “preach” to my dolls and stuffed animals as a girl. My father was a pastor, and I’d come home after church, line them up and give them my version of his sermon, including a baptism in the bathroom sink. By the time I was fourteen, I had learned to play several instruments, and I became the minister of music at my father’s church. Becoming the church musician so young, gave me the responsibilities of understanding hymns, their origin, and the meaning behind them – so reading Scripture became a daily discipline, which only fanned the preaching flames. I moved from my home of Philadelphia to North Carolina when I was twenty-three.

When I joined Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, NC this catapulted my preaching ministry. Sitting under the preaching, teaching and tutelage of Rev. Dr. William C. Turner, Jr. (the former professor and Chair of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School), became an invaluable lesson on what it meant to be a student of the Word, and a Shepherd who truly cares for the sheep. It wasn’t long before I became involved in ministry there, that eventually I was asked to serve as the Minister of Christian Education and the Assistant to the Pastor, which is my current vocation.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry? 

From 2015-2017 I served as a pastor in Smithfield, NC. Although it is truly a burdensome joy, serving as pastor was an absolute treasure. It involved a discipline unlike any other ministry calling – I was truly stretched on multiple levels and discovered personal areas of strength and weakness that I did not know existed. It affirmed for me my love for preaching and my love for the church. I also had the opportunity to preach in Kerala, India. As a woman there, this is not a common sight, and I was deeply honored and blessed to be asked and the Word of God was received with joy. It is an experience I will cherish forever!

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?

I’d have to say knowing what battles I am required to fight and those in which I am to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord are deep challenges. As women, we are challenged in ministry differently than men. Matters of authority, order, harassment, and patriarchy, (just to name a few) are unfortunately still areas of confrontation. Although it might be anticipated that men are the antagonist, these issues don’t always come from them. 

It is hard being disappointed by sisters in Christ, especially fellow ministers of the Gospel. As smart, powerful, and anointed as we are, many of us are broken, angry, and in need of healing. We must be willing to have vulnerable and truthful conversations about what vexes our soul. Pain is evidence of a wound, which often leave us turning on one another. Prayer and discernment are necessary to understand what is causing these maladies.

What is the best ministry advice you have received?   

“Stay humble.” Ministry can leave a euphoria. It can make you believe things about yourself that can be detrimental if you’re not careful, to your walk and calling.  We must always remember that God has chosen us… we are only vessels made of clay. It is the Potter that determines its use.