Each week, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we’re thrilled to introduce Stacy Nowell.
Stacy, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I became a Christian as a teen, and almost immediately I felt called to ministry. This sense of call was confusing to me for two primary reasons.
- I was a new Christian and didn’t feel “good enough” to be a minister. Most of my friends had grown up in the church and knew all the right words as well as the secret handshake. I had to look up and practice the Lord’s Prayer at home in order to not look like a fool when everyone else recited it perfectly from memory. Surely one of them was better qualified.
- I was a young woman. And God wasn’t allowed to call women to the ministry, was He?
When I went to college, my life ambition was to become a pastor’s wife, since it still seemed absurd to me that I might become the pastor. My roommates even purchased me a guide to being a pastor’s wife as a gift. I still keep it on my office bookshelf as a memento.
To make a long story short, God simply wouldn’t let me go. I studied religion, began serving in my college ministry, attended seminary, and ultimately came to the conclusion that the greater disobedience for me was not to enter the pastoral ministry.
On the journey, I have served as a singles minister, hospital chaplain, youth minister, associate pastor, and I am now serving in my first call as a senior pastor.
What have been your greatest sources of joy as a pastor?
I love leadership, and I love affecting change. Whether one-on-one in a counseling session, coaching a staff member, preaching a sermon where I can visibly see the lightbulbs coming on, or guiding the congregation through a challenging transition, I love to facilitate moving a person or group from point A to point B. This makes measuring success difficult, as life change is slow and usually under the surface, but the occasional text, phone call, or card that says, “you made a difference because …” make it worth it.
What have been your greatest challenges as a pastor?
The death of perfectionism and people-pleasing has been a painful one. It would be so lovely to do all the right things at all the right times, wouldn’t it? But I simply can’t, and coming to terms with that in order to maintain my sanity has been key. Accepting that I will disappoint people regardless and therefore choosing which expectations I will not meet has been a learning curve. I like being liked, and criticism sucks. But I like being healthy and strategically effective even more.
How do you stay healthy, physically and spiritually?
I should probably say “pass” on staying healthy physically, as I could and should do a lot better. But I will say that I prioritize sleep. My evil alter-ego comes out when I’m overly tired, so I go to bed whether it’s all finished or not.
As for spiritually and emotionally, I also guard my “me time” pretty fiercely. My little secret is that my children still go to daycare on Fridays, even though I have the day off. Some might say it makes be a terrible mother, but I say it makes me a better human.
The last thing I’ll say is that I try to remember that I’m a worshipper on Sunday mornings, not just the pastor. This is hard to do, but I believe it’s an important discipline that helps me remember my identity as a disciple first and a pastor second.