Every Friday Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazingly gifted minister. Today we are thrilled to introduce you to Nina Maples.  Nina IS what a minister looks like! 

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

I came to ministry as a second career. I taught school and felt that was my ministry for thirteen years, but I began to feel God’s nudging toward attending seminary. After several months of arguing with God about this call, I finally shared my struggle with my husband, who was working full time at a church in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. He encouraged me to listen to what was stirring inside of me. He said that I had followed him in his call to ministry, and now it was his turn to follow me. We packed up our family and headed to Louisville, Kentucky.

While in seminary, I worked in a local church as a minister to children. When I graduated, two other seminarians and I formed a counseling center at a local church. I also did a residency as a chaplain at a local hospital in the pediatric intensive care unit. Soon after completing my residency, I was hired at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, and I served there as the associate pastor for twenty years until I retired this past May. While serving at the church, I also maintained a private counseling practice. I continue to do counseling part time now that I have retired. I have completed training to be a spiritual director and have also recently completed training at the Enneagram Institute.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry? 

Serving at a church for twenty years affords the opportunity to walk alongside people and families through life moments of great joy and profound grief. It has been in those moments where I know I am standing on Holy ground, and I have been honored to serve. The rituals of a community of faith such as serving communion, marrying a couple, lighting a person’s candle on Christmas Eve, struggling with people on a committee to discern God’s answer for the church, sharing coffee and a life chat, watching children grow into young adults . . . these are the moments I cherish.

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

People have been the greatest challenges I have encountered in ministry! Churches are made up of flawed human beings, all trying to find greater wholeness and healing. Ministers are also flawed human beings trying to serve and love people, therefore it is crucial for ministers to have some understanding and education about mental illness, addiction, and sexual or domestic abuse. People struggling with these conditions sit in our churches each Sunday morning, seeking hope and support. Being able to help them find resources, and move toward healing, is such an important part of ministry. Jesus spent time healing lepers, casting out demons, ministering to those caught in adultery, and opening the eyes of the blind. We too must be equipped and compassionate toward those who need healing and resurrection within our local congregations.

What is advice would you give to a teenage girl who is discerning a call to ministry?      

Don’t be afraid to listen to the call within you. Observe and talk to other women who have followed God’s call to serve in a church, as a chaplain, a therapist, in missions, or to whatever role you are being called. God’s YES is always louder than the world’s NO. Keep knocking on doors until the right one opens. And yes, there will be one that will open.

The Creator has given you all the courage, tenacity, and wisdom you will need. Continue to grow into the beautiful servant that God gifted you to be.