Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. Today we introduce Pam Neal.
Pam, tell us about your ministry journey.
I currently serve as minister for administration at First Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee. I have been part of this staff for almost four years and provide leadership in the areas of personnel, finance, and the care and use of the facilities. I also enjoy ministry to the senior adults.
My journey in ministry began twenty years ago after a career as a federal government employee. I was able to combine my skills from working in the federal government with my love for God and sharing God’s love with others. God called me to ministry first through youth ministry and then I served in a senior adult and youth ministry combination role. I then became an education minister and experienced the workings of the church such as budget, nominating process, and discipleship programming. I later served as children’s minister to round out my ministry experience. I love to teach and often taught adult discipleship classes when serving as an education minister. Children’s discipleship is particularly important to me, because I believe that we must reach and teach our children about Jesus while they are young to make a difference in our world. I believe in George Barna’s concept of “raising spiritual champions.”
My work in all these areas has equipped me for the role I have now as minister for administration. I have a good understanding of what is needed by the various ministries at First Baptist and am able to provide the resources they need for ministry. I like to say that my ministry is to make sure the church has what it needs to do ministry.
I make sure that all the staff receives the compensation and benefits provided by the church so that they can focus on ministry. I make sure the financial resources are available for doing the work of the church as well as make sure the church’s financial policies and procedures are followed. Accurate and comprehensive financial records are important to the church at all levels. I make sure that the facilities are maintained and accessible for use so that ministry can take place in clean and comfortable facilities.
The senior adult ministry allows me to continue a hands-on ministry with church members. I always enjoy building relationships and being able to minister to people.
For the past eighteen years, God has allowed me the privilege of serving as a chaplain for the Knoxville Police Department. The last eight of those years I have served as the chaplain coordinator, leading a volunteer corps of thirty chaplains who minister to police officers and the community on a daily basis. I have had the opportunity to teach and train chaplains about law enforcement chaplaincy at various departments all over the country.
My ministry journey has taken me to places I never dreamed and allowed me to do things I never thought about. I am very blessed to be able to say that God has called me to ministry and equipped me for every part of the journey.
What are the sources of greatest joy in your ministry?
My greatest joy in ministry has been the opportunity to see how God changes lives. It is those times where God allows us to be part of God’s work in the lives of people that I find great joy. Whether it is leading someone to a relationship with Christ or helping someone navigate a situation, it brings me great joy to be God’s instrument to help people find God’s plan for their lives or to help them grow in their faith relationship.
After twenty years, I now have the privilege to hear from those with whom I have been involved and see how God has been at work in their lives. I talk to people who God continues to grow in their faith and recall the times that He allowed me to be part of their story. I see people with whom God allowed me to be part of their journey and find joy in seeing how God has been faithful to see them through that journey. My joy is in having been a small part of God’s story.
I find tremendous joy in teaching. There is a look that you can see on peoples’ faces when they are receiving what you say and God is at work in their lives. I am grateful for those moments and the privilege to be part of God’s work in their lives.
What have been the greatest sources of challenge?
My biggest challenge has been fulfilling what I believe is God’s call on my life in an atmosphere in which my calling is sometimes not accepted–not because of insincerity or inability on my part, but because of a perceived standard for ministry. Ministry for women is often difficult. Even when we are competent and excel in our ministry calling, we can be overlooked for no other reason than our gender. That continues to be my most frustrating challenge in twenty years of ministry.
I am very blessed that the deacons in my church have unanimously recommended ordination for me. I am very humbled and grateful to First Baptist Church Knoxville for this special time in my journey.
What is the best ministry advice you have ever received?
Never give up. Sometimes ministry is difficult, and sometimes we feel like quitting. When you do, just remember who you ultimately work for. Always give your best in following what you believe God wants you to do and let the rest go. Let God sort it out and take care of it in His way, in His time.
Early in ministry I received advice that has stayed with me for over twenty years. The church is made up of people. You have to be able to love them no matter what. It is often difficult to love people who are not so lovable or who cause conflict in the church. As ministers, we need to be able to love them anyway. We must love them all the same way whether they are loveable or not; whether they are our biggest cheerleaders or our biggest adversaries. We must love them all as Jesus does–unconditionally. It’s not always easy, but it is always the right thing to do.
Serving in ministry certainly has its peaks and valleys. I have found that no matter what those peaks and valleys are, I am so very blessed to be called by God to serve Him and His people in ministry. It is a privilege to be part of the awesome things God is doing all around us. God is truly amazing, as is the opportunity to serve in ministry. I thank God for calling me to serve the church. To God be the Glory. Great things He has done.