The term pastor in transition has a new meaning these days. Formerly reserved for pastors who filled in during staff transitions such as retirement, advancement, or death until they filled the lead pastor position, it now is used to identify pastors who have resigned voluntarily or otherwise for less than amicable reasons. These pastors no longer hold a staff position within the church but are still ordained ministers within their denomination.
A mass exodus prompted by the pandemic seems to have exposed the ugly underworkings of the church’s leadership failures and administrative oversights that include bullying, abuse, ageism, and race and gender discrimination. Can we agree this has been going on for centuries? With each generation of church attendees come new issues, allegations, and reforms. But, these issues are not new as they seem to repeat themselves consistently over time, leaving wounded parishioners and pastors feeling abandoned and rejected by the body of Christ. Some within the church have chosen rank and title over surrendered service to Jesus and are unwilling to relinquish their manmade thrones to the only One who sits on The Throne of Heaven and all Creation.
Recently, I returned from a retreat in which I met a group of women who were each in some form of transition within their church, marriage, ministry, or calling. As I listened to each precious creation share her painful story of betrayal, loss, and rejection, it was clear I was not alone in my hurt and grief. Her voice echoed with each story shared of brothers in Christ passing on oppressive dictatorship, classifying her as unworthy to teach or disciple because she is a woman. The passive-aggressive patronizing of her need to fulfill the calling God placed in her is dismissed as misunderstanding God’s word, mishearing God, or asserting their ego-driven self-righteousness as knowing better than God. The consolation -pigeonholing her into traditional female roles as a submissive wife, dutiful mother, secretary, children’s ministry worker, or hospitality service.
Please don’t misunderstand the point I am making. Wife, mother, secretary, children’s ministry worker, or serving in hospitality are all valuable areas of service that minister the love of Jesus, form and shape the hearts of future ministry leaders, and welcome the weary traveler. Not every woman is called to serve in these areas. Yet, it seems for some of our brothers in Christ, these are the only roles they permit women to serve in.
But it is not just men. There are women, sisters in Christ, who walk in deep insecurities and are weighed down with shame from festering wounds they are unwilling to surrender to Jesus. These members of our family in Christ look at other women as threats to their sense of value, significance, and social status in the church. They see their sisters who are rising with wings of Eagles into their calling through a scared and pain filled lens that causes them to create drama, gossip, and even sabotage their prosperity. Satan uses their weaknesses and fears to tempt them into preying on their sisters in Christ with a competitive spirit that is constantly comparing themselves to others and never feeling complete. They lack spiritual and emotional maturity. They are unteachable. And, they despise authority. To be on the receiving end of a sister’s bitter edge leaves a deep wound.
As I listened, my heart was filled with compassion and empathy for each of them. These beautiful hearts each answered God with “Yes, Lord!” as I did. What a heartbreaking atrocity it is to deny the omnipresence, omnipotent, and omniscience of God. The I AM who chooses His creation to receive the impartation of His divine calling and the authority manifest through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit to carry that calling out is denied because the gender God assigned to His creation is female – not male.
Lamentations 3:22-33 GNT
22 The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue,
23 Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
24 The Lord is all I have, and so in him, I put my hope.
25 The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him,
26 So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—
27 And it is best to learn this patience in our youth.
28 When we suffer, we should sit alone in silent patience;
29 We should bow in submission, for there may still be hope.
30 Though beaten and insulted, we should accept it all.
31 The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever.
32 He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong.
33 He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain.
She waits, wounded. She waits, prays, laments, seeks, all while wounded. Countless women, sisters in Christ, members of the beloved body are tear struck in desperate longing to fulfill the divine calling that God, Yawheh, Adonai, El Shaddai, El Elyon has spoken into existence and purposed for each of them. She stands on the covenant of the Father’s love for her that rises with each new dawn, faithful, filled with compassion and mercy. She is learning to be disciplined in surrendering her suffering as she enters the Throne of Grace to accept God’s time and will for her. She wears hope as faith filled jewels, a yoke she accepts in gratitude for being His chosen beloved in joyfilled service. She has a supernatural knowing, like a glowing ember that warms her spirit authenticating the Father’s voice that affirms her significance, value, and calling.
She waits, encircled by the rhythms of those that have waited before her. She waits with Ruth, Mary Magdeline, Hannah, Deborah, Naomi, Mary, Rachel, Eve. She waits with Susanne B. Anthoney, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, and Evangiline Cory Booth. She waits with Sojourner Truth, Charlotte Lotti Moon, Fanny Crosby, Amy Carmichael, Cory tenn Boom, and Hariette Beecher Stowe. She waits with Lilias Trotter, Lucy Jane Ryder Myer, and Aimee Semple McPherson. Her hope is encouraged by the countless who stand with her today like Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Kim Burrell, Serita Jakes, Christine Caine, and you.
She is waiting and standing on the promises of God.
Thank you so much Kathy. I appreciate your reference to Jeremiah. You keep being the woman God is calling you to be, share your gifts, encourage, and inspire. You have for me.
So amazing!! I geared up reading this as I too wait. You said it all so beautifully!! Thank you for bringing it to the forefront. I wondered yesterday why God gave these gifts and this calling to me, a woman, when He knows the barriers I keep running into, face first!! Jeremiah was the most unsuccessful prophet of all, but he was faithful. I will be faithful. BTW take me next time you go on a retreat like that! Lol. Love you sister.