A Brown, Single, Sinner, Latina Woman

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Some families are known for being doctors and others are known for having a lot of lawyers or teachers. In my family, however, we have a lot of minsters. For as long as I can remember, I have always had someone to tell me that Jesus had a plan and a calling for my life. I grew up seeing my uncles, aunties, cousins, and parents behind a pulpit preaching the word of God. I was the kid that was always preaching to my stuffed animals with my precious moments bible instead of having a tea party with them. My whole family, especially my parents, taught me that God gave me a voice to speak up and to never hold back from what God was calling me to do. My family instilled into me a loud, strong confidence in who I was called to be.

I knew I had to go to Bible College right after high school. I was excited to learn and grow in my calling. My first two years were great. I had men and women professors pour into my life and encourage me in ways that are still making a difference till this day. On my final year of bible college, we got a new professor. He was a young, Latino pastor and he was also very upfront of his view regarding women in ministry. What was his view, you ask? According to this professor, women were not allowed to be in ministry. He believed that a woman’s ministry was to have children so that they can be forgiven of the sins of Eve. Up until meeting this man I had never had someone tell me I couldn’t do what God called me to do. I didn’t know there were people who would disagree with the calling I had in my life. I was in shock that I had to wrap my head around the fact that some people would think my calling is wrong.

Every class, even if it had nothing to do with women in ministry, he would bring up the topic. It seemed as though every chance he got he was trying to prove to us that women in ministry was wrong. One day I got so tired and raised my hand in class because he brought it up yet again. He called on me and I asked him, “Why did you decide to teach here? Why would you take a job at a school where you would be preparing men and women for ministry if you don’t believe women have a calling?” I then told him, “Because I have a calling and so does every woman in this class. Why do you want to teach us if you think this is wrong?” I could see the blood boiling in his face and my 19-year-old self was shaking on the inside but standing firm on the outside. His response was, “that is not an appropriate question and I will not give an answer.” He then dismissed the class and told me to come to speak with him.

This professor spoke to me for over an hour trying to give me examples in scripture that proved that what I was doing was wrong. I started to walk out of the classroom and he walked with me to the outside of the dorms. One of my questions to him was, “if a woman preaches to a thousand people and they all get saved, you are telling me that it is wrong and you rather those people not come to know the Lord?” He responded, “it goes against God’s word so yes, I would not have her preach.” I was so mind blown and my heart was breaking when he went in for a low blow. He said, “look, Krystal. I am just trying to help you. If you become a pastor and preach, you will be going against God’s word and well, you know what happens to people who go against Gods word.” I exclaimed, “You’re saying I’m gonna go to hell?!” He said “it’s all there in your bible.”

I tell this story because it was one of the first encounters I had with someone placing doubt into my calling. The calling I was so sure of was being challenged. Little did I know that the challenges wouldn’t stop there.

I titled this blog “A Brown, single, Sinner, Latina women” because these are the things that I have had the most opposition for being. At one time or another I have had someone tell me I was wrong, bad, or not good enough because I was one of these things. Sometimes I was even the one telling myself I should throw in the ministry towel because I was one of these things. When you are told you can’t do a certain thing because you are a woman, or when you referred to as the “ethnic voice” in in the group, it starts to get to you. I just wanted to be a voice without being singled out as different. I have applied for ministry positions where I was told that they loved me, BUT they were looking for a couple not a single person. Don’t get me started on the mistakes I have made while being a pastor that should count me out of ministry. It feels like there is often so much in my life that disqualifies me from ministry. The title of this blog doesn’t even cover it all. I have felt disqualified because I haven’t gone further in my education. I have felt disqualified because I am over weight or not as “hip” as others. I have felt disqualified because of the people I have let down and the relationships I have damaged. I have felt disqualified when people tell me I am not a “real Mexican” because I don’t speak Spanish.  The list can go on and on.

As I sit here and write this I am reminded of Matthew chapter five. Here Jesus is preaching the sermon on the mount and he starts listing things that the world says we would be disqualified for but that in the kingdom of God we are still a welcome despite those things.

You see, there are tons of things that disqualify you and me from ministry. However, because of the work that Jesus did on the cross for us we are qualified for ministry! Regardless of gender, language, size, upbringing, citizenship, or relationship status, you and I have a calling in our life! We can’t let opposition stop us from the call that God has in our life!

On my last day of class with my professor who disagreed with women in ministry, he called me up after class. He said, “well, you are graduating. What now?” These were my words to him, “I was born with a calling in my life to preach the word and care for people’s hearts. I know there is a dying world out there that needs help and even if you tell me I can’t, God tells me I can! So, if you have a problem with that, you take it up with God because he gave me this calling!” I then grabbed my stuff and I walked out the door. It was a drop the mic moment before dropping the mic was a thing.

I was told by that professor that I could not be a pastor and now I am the first lead campus pastor that is a woman of the very school I was attending when he told me I couldn’t be a pastor. God has to get the glory for that!!!!

Despite this great victory, there are some days that are hard and some days where my sins want to remind me of my mistakes. There are times where I look in the mirror and wish I looked a little different, some days I am embarrassed that I need a translator when I preach at a Spanish church, and somedays I am so over being single. Nevertheless, I find peace in the fact that I was beautifully and wonderfully made.

I was beautifully and wonderfully made a woman.

I was beautifully and wonderfully made a Mexican American.

I was beautifully and wonderfully made with some curves.

I was beautifully and wonderfully made to embrace seasons and not rush to the next season.

I was beautifully and wonderfully made by a God who loved me so much he sent his son to die for my sins so that they don’t have to hang over my head and ministry my whole life.

I was beautifully and wonderfully made to be me and not anyone else.

The beautiful thing about Jesus is that he takes all the things that the world says disqualify us and uses those things the bring glory for his name. He turns them around, calls them beautiful, and invites us to be part of his Kingdom.

There are too many lives in need in this world for us to hold back! Let’s embrace every part of us and place every part of us in the hands of our God.

-By, Krystal Baca

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A mothers journey to her Rainbow By: Priscilla Rodriguez

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We always hear there is a time for everything…. (A time to mourn and time to dance……) It is so poetically written in Ecclesiastes 3. And you’d think you truly understand everything… Until you don’t. That is what happened to me. June 7, 2015 I married the love of my life. A few months into our marriage, we found out we were expecting! It was the greatest news to hear when your doctor confirms that life is growing in yours. Check up after check up we thanked God for a healthy pregnancy and baby. On the day we scheduled our ultra sound to find out the gender of Baby Rodriguez, the technician stares at a flashing screen. The screen on the wall started seeming bigger than my whole life. Colors and flashes filled the entire room (or so it felt like in my head). My heart paced faster and faster and she (technician) said she “cannot see the head” and needed to go call her boss.

I was five months pregnant! Holding my husband’s hand harder than ever, I hear 2 nurses enter the room….. “I am so sorry to say….” I was numb. I could not, did not want to hear the following words. It felt as if I was watching myself from up above. Yes, there was a heart beat. But no brain. No activity. Termination- that was the option my doctor told me when I visited him the following day. You see, anencephaly is a birth defect with no hopes of life past 2 months if you are “lucky”. My husband and I decided to continue with our pregnancy. We left everything in God’s hands. Though it felt like the hardest thing in my life. For someone who likes to keep control of EVERYTHING, this seemed way out of my reach. I prayed to God for a miracle. A sign. A promise. Only time would reveal what God had for us.

My belly got bigger, and so did my worry. I feared doctor’s appointments. I feared what others might say to me or think of me. I felt at fault. But only time would tell. May 4, 2016 I entered the hospital because I was scheduled to be induced. All hope, fear, sadness, worry, cry, anxiety was within me. I had the support of so many but felt so alone. Two days into the hospital it was time to push. During the labor process, my husband and I lost our precious baby girl. We named her JOY because despite all suffering, we had God in our lives. Joy. Joy. Joy. I think back at that time, not too long ago, and think how is it that God, given all the opportunity to keep His son, decided to sacrifice Him on the cross for our sins?

I do not know how or what he felt. But on May 6, 2016, I had a better understanding of what that felt like. But it was then that Jesus went to earth to fill a purpose “for such a time as this”. Whatever you are going through, whether it be loss, misunderstanding, loneliness, fear… God is with you. This is only a small time in your life and God will be by your side. The world is not over. There is still HOPE. There is still JOY. There is still GOD. On August 20, 2017, God blessed us with another beautiful baby girl whom we named Iris Faith. She is our rainbow baby. She is our happiness. Iris means rainbow, which is the symbol of promise God gave Noah after he flooded the earth. And “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrew 11:1). God is with you in your best times. He is with you in your worst times. He is with you at all times.

2 Full Time Jobs-Don’t grow weary By:Mauricio Escobar

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I’m coming up on my 2 year anniversary of having the privilege of having the title of “Pastor”.

I have been a bi vocational Pastor for the past two years. I consider myself having two full time jobs. 1. Working at the County of Orange 40 hours a week 2. Full time Pastor which I’m on call 24/7/365. The day I found out I was going to be a Pastor I was ready to quit my day job and was ready to be a Pastor full time. But God had other plans and most of the time my plan A is God’s plan B and God’s plan A is my plan B. Even though I had thought and planned that God was going to provide for me to become a full time Pastor I had to do a reality check. I soon found out the harsh reality that God was calling me to keep both of my jobs as much I despised that. I remember coming home from a long day at work and telling my wife I hate my job and I want to quit it so I can be full time Pastor already. Day after day I would complain to her and always have a good excuse to quit my job. Thinking I was ready to be a full time Pastor, I soon hit a realization and God spoke to me telling “Mau I’m not ready to make the move for you yet, it’s at my time not yours” Ouch that hurt but then I realized He’s right! It’s not about when I think I’m ready or it’s time but it’s at His timing and though I hate to accept it I know I have to trust in Him. One day I know God will say “Mau you ready now to be a full time Pastor”. In the mean time I know I still have to work at the calling He has given me. Now, instead of complaining to my wife, I thank God knowing that there is still a lot work to be done until He gives me the green light for full time ministry. If you in the same situation as me don’t grow weary like I have and still do at times wondering when God is going to call me into full time ministry but hold to the fact that God will call you at His right timing. Yes it sucks but it’s better to be in God’s will than our because than things will really go wrong. So now I look at being a bi vocational as a blessing knowing that God has given me the strength to handle both of these task. I won’t grow weary but keep giving my 110% and wait patiently for the day that God will fulfill the desires of my heart.

I graduated! If I can do it you can do it!

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Last Friday on May 4th2018 I graduated from Vanguard University with my Bachelors of Arts degree in Religion with an emphasis in ministry and leadership! (Try saying that three times real fast!) It was one of the proudest and unreal days of my life! To some a Bachelor’s degree might not be a big deal, but to me and my family it meant the world. It was something I always wanted to achieve but if I am honest with you- I never thought I would. School is something that has never been easy for me. It was always full of challenges and obstacles. I remember going through testing when I was in elementary school to see if I was dyslexic only to find out I was just a bad speller. I was the girl who was a freshmen in high school with a third grade reading level. I had to take a regular English class in addition to a reading comprehension course just to catch up to my peers. Thankfully, however, by the time I graduated high school my reading level was where it needed to be.

I have always had to work harder than those around me. I would have to re-read things over and over just to understand and I would have to study for countless hours so that I could retain the information I needed for a test. School was so hard for me from the beginning but I loved school. I loved learning and exploring new concepts. I loved class discussions and being able to have a voice in the classroom. Even though school was tough, I knew in my heart I wanted to pursue my education as much as possible. I graduated from Nogales High school in La Puente California in 2003. I then went on to LABI College (also known as Latin American Bible Institute). I completed three years at LABI and graduated with an Associate’s degree in Bible and ministry in 2006. Those three years were among the best years of my life! They were challenging, but I was so passionate about getting prepared for the calling God had in my life.

After LABI I transferred to Vanguard University to obtain Bachelor’s degree. I started in the fall of 2006 and man, was it a journey. I walked onto the campus full of confidence but was quickly met by my insecurities and the reminder that school was a challenge for me. Now, you may be thinking “2006? Wait, but it is 2018?” Let me help you. I started at Vanguard in 2006 and graduated in 2018. Yep! It took me 13 years to finish. But did you hear that last part? I finished! And let me tell you, a lot happened in those 13 years…. I was challenged by the difficulties of learning, I was a youth pastor, I had financial aid issues, I had personal issues, and I became a campus pastor. So, it is safe to say I encountered many different things and various challenges. I often felt like it was hurdle after hurdle that I was jumping over and pushing through just to get to the next class and finish. I had to stop and go so many times that I never thought I was going to finish. When I finally got near the end it was hard for me to comprehend that I was actually approaching the finish line. I had been in this race for my education for so many years and I never thought I would finally see the finish line. For so long the hurdles blocked my view and I even forgot to think about what was waiting for me at the end.

Part of me was so embarrassed and ashamed that it took me this long. Insecurities wanted to rob me of my victory but I felt God’s voice speak to me so lovingly. “In this race you have gone at your own pace and now you are at the finish line!”

I went at my pace taking classes and pursuing ministry. I went at my pace when dealing with personal challenges. I went at my pace but I was never alone in the race. The Lord my God was always with me! Always cheering for me, always pushing me, always believing in me, and never giving up on me! I ran the race at my pace and I got to see the finish line. Up until the day of graduation I felt like a part of me was always waiting for something to happen that would stop me from graduating yet again. I was waiting for a call that I said I had a pending balance or that they made a mistake and I needed another class. I had gotten so use to the hurdles but it was time to get ready for the victory! Graduation was like a dream come true!

Having my family, friends, and mentors there meant the world to me! As I was standing in line waiting for my name to be called all these emotions ran through me. I was finally able to tell myself you did it!! That elementary school girl who couldn’t spell had overcome! That high school girl trying to raise her reading comprehension, she did it! That young woman trying to find herself, her ministry and her calling, she did! I did it! They called my name and I smiled from ear to ear! The finish line was so sweet and a better rush then I could describe.

I am grateful for my parents who always believed in me. Who always told me I was capable even when I thought I wasn’t. I am grateful for my boss Dr. Marty Harris who took a chance on me before I crossed the finish line. I am thankful to the Miranda family who prayed for me and made a way for me. I am thankful to my Faro family who journeyed with me, took a chance on me, and helped formed me. My mentors like Pastor Steve Pinto who is always giving me something to look up to and strive for. I am thankful for friends who have become family like the Bess family and the Guzman family. I am thankful for my auntie Maryann who is always ready and willing to celebrate me. I am thankful to my auntie Flora and auntie Josie who prayed prayers that carried me. I know my Auntie Flora was watching from heaven with my grandma and grandpa and all my aunties and uncles. I am thankful to each and everyone one of my friends, family, and students for loving me and for cheering for me.

God is so good and he has been so good to me. My race was hard and my race was long but God was faithful and He gave me the ability to finish what I started. If I could do it than you can do it! Don’t give up! You might be going at your own pace but don’t give up on the race!

As for me, it’s time to start a new race! Master’s Degree, here I come!!

The Corn Field

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I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the old black and white TV show called the Twilight Zone, but it was a TV show that had a different story line each episode. Well, one of the episodes was about a little boy who, when he was angry at someone, had the ability to stare at them so deeply that he could make certain things happen to them. It was his dad who made him mad, so he sent him to a far off corn field. Imagine that if every time someone made you mad or hurt you, you could stare at them and send them to a far off corn field. I would be lying if I said I haven’t wanted to send a few people from ministry or from different parts of my life off to a corn field. The truth is that sometimes we will just come across difficult people. Those people where it seems like no matter how nice we are, how much we serve them, or no matter how hard we work- they just don’t like us and want to give us a hard time.

I remember being about 10 or 11 years old and feeling for the first time that someone didn’t like me. It was a woman in the church who had a daughter my same age. No matter how nice I was to her and her daughter, it only made her like me less and be really mean to me. I didn’t tell my parents right away because one: my parents raised me to fight and push through my own battles, and two: because I thought my mom would get all momma bear and give this woman a peace of her mind. (My mom is the sweetest women until provoked! Now that I think of it, maybe that’s where I get that from. BUT back to the story.) I tried so hard and this woman still didn’t like me. I remember going to my aunties after church one Sunday, and I was really sad because I had yet another unpleasant encounter with this woman. My Auntie noticed that I was sad and asked me what happened. I told her everything and how it made me feel. Her words were so simple, but so wise and I will never forget them. She told me, “Mija not everyone in this world is going to like you. Sometimes they will have their reasons and sometimes they will dislike you for no good reason. But you don’t let that stop you from being who you are and loving people the way you do.” She said, “Respect them, treat them with kindness, and give it to the Lord.” To this day I have never forgotten those words and they have been words I have needed to remember all throughout ministry.

It is so painful to not to be liked by someone. No one likes being the one left out. No one likes being the one that is treated differently. Yes, many would think that this doesn’t happen in a Christian setting but it does. It is the simple fact that we are sinners saved by grace and we are all a work in progress. Hurt people, hurt people and because we are leaders and pastors we deal with a lot of hurt people. So we can’t be surprised when the hurt people we are trying to help turn around and hurt us. We shouldn’t be surprised, but we can’t change that it is difficult and it hurts. The easy thing to do would be to pray them off to the corn field, but we are called to love and to let God restore. Let’s look at some verses from the Bible that relates to this:

Luke 6:27-29: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold”

Matthew 5:44-45: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

1 Peter 3:9: “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

Sometimes I read the Bible and tell God “this is much easier to read than to put into practice.” It is so hard when people mistreat us or talk behind our back. It is so hard when you are trying to help and end up being accused of the opposite. These are the hard moments of ministry that not a lot of people talk about. When gossip is spoken about us you pray and hope people will know your character, but to some a juicy peace of gossip is better than finding out the truth and thinking the best of someone. Some days you just want to pray them to the corn field (or pray yourself to the cornfield) just to get away from them! People are human and they are going to hurt us just like we are human and we are going to hurt people. How beautiful would this world be if we all treated each other with the love of Christ?

An attack on our character is one of the biggest blows as a minster because some days we have to push through with all our might to do what’s right. I am sorry that in this world some people will dislike you without a reason. I am sorry we live in a world that would rather fight than forgive. I am sorry that we live in a world that would rather gossip together than seek God’s truth together. I am sorry that as a Pastor and leader you are pouring out so much and you still have to deal with difficult people. Sometimes people suck, but then again sometimes we suck too. We can’t give up on people though because people are ministry. However, we can continue to live by example. We can continue to choose to love and pray for them. We can continue to be who God called us to be and give them over to the Lord. If you are hurting today because of a difficult person, please know you are not alone and you are not who they say you are. You are who God says you are and he says that you are good, you are forgiven, you are redeemed, and you are so loved by him! So put your trust and everything else in the Father. If that doesn’t work you could always pray them to the corn field, or take’em there yourself! Just kidding….. Kind of!

Whatever You Do … Keep Moving Forward -By Jessica Estrada

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“I don’t see a heartbeat, Mrs. Estrada … let me keep searching … (silent, awkward pause). I am so sorry; I am afraid that you have miscarried (again).”

This is what my doctor said to me in the summer of 2017 after I miscarried my baby of two months. I instantly perked up my eyes and said, “It’s okay–it happens!” to the doctor, quickly filling my facing with a half-crooked smile like everything was okay. My husband, Rudy, looked at me with a shocked face. I looked at the doctor and said, “I guess I will have better luck next time.” What the doctor and Rudy did not know at that moment is that my heart had broken into a billion pieces on the inside. After I walked out of that hospital room, Rudy held my hand and asked if I was okay. I told him I didn’t want to talk about it–I was just trying to make it to the door.  My mind flooded with memories of telling my mother I was expecting on Mother’s Day and how excited my family was. I was utterly broken as I walked through the hospital and my next thought was, “Where the heck is the freakin’ door to get out of this place!?” No one ever taught me how to deal with my emotions when I encountered devastating news like this. (I guess no one can ever really prepare you.) I had no time to think, no time to feel, and certainly no time to cry when I was finally walking outside the hospital. I just wanted to keep going on with life and forget what I had just heard. I didn’t want it to be true and I wished with all of my heart that I would wake up from this horrible nightmare! But, that was not a dream … it was my story … my reality … my journey which has led me down a path of infertility, several miscarriages, a roller coaster experience, and compelling encounters with God, the creator of life.

When I got into the car with Rudy after the doctor had shared with me the news of my miscarriage and the emergency surgery I had to undergo, I panicked.  As Rudy drove on the 210 Freeway I couldn’t help but cry with great anguish.  I probably asked God why I had to go through this struggle. I once heard someone say that when you have reached the bottom of the dirt pit there is no place to look and go but up.  There were days when I said to God that I give up on everything but something inside my soul never let me quit. Something inside kept moving forward–even if I was barely moving. You see, we might find our back against the wall but God, in His ever-loving mercy, helps us continue our journeys. It is these journeys that define who we are and allow us to become the perfect design God has created us to be.

Have you ever experienced anything in your life that has devastated you but you didn’t know how to deal with it? Trust me, I have been in that boat, and it is not easy. There are days when I feel so angry with God, and there are days when I humble myself before him, pleading for His grace and mercy.  If I can share one thing that I am confident in it is that God has never left my side, regardless of how mad or sad I am inside my heart. In fact, it has been in the moments of my great loss that I have encountered His great comfort and resounding peace. It is what has propelled me to continue moving forward in the journey. I love that scripture even reminds us that nothing can take God’s loves away from us: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow … nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (AMEN!)

What have I learned from this? I have learned that God has made me a fighter. God has instilled in me the will to never quit seeking Him regardless of how messy my life might be. God has taught me that I can do everything through Him if I just believe. It has showed me that I am not alone in this battle but stand with many women who struggle to conceive–and that’s okay. It has forced me to realize that I am worthy and adequate regardless of my shortcomings. And … so are you. Whatever you are going through, know that God made you into a powerful person, worthy and full of dignity and grace. Keep pressing on through whatever you are facing and remember that no matter what may come … God is right there with you–every step of the way! So, my sisters & brothers, I write these words to encourage that whatever you do … keep the faith and keep moving forward!

Introverts can be Pastors too

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Do you ever look at your life and think, “Yup! God must really have a sense of humor”? When I look at my life, that is something I think about a lot. I say this because when I really stop to think about the way God uses me, I will be the first one to say, that’s not natural for me! As a child I was outgoing with people I knew and trusted, but with strangers, and I would shut down. I was the teenager who dreaded presentations in class where I had to stand to talk to my peers. Any time I had to do any public speaking, my asthma would start to act up and my right leg would start to shake. I remember trying to fake being sick anytime there would be a slight chance I would have to talk in front of a group of people. I absolutely hated talking in front of people and now it is something I do almost every day! So yes, I do think God has a sense of humor. I also am a firm believer that God calls us to what we are not. The best way I can put it is by saying what I heard as a Bible school student, “God does not call the equipped, he equips the called!” When I first heard this saying it all made a lot more sense to me. He calls us to what we are not because it gives more room for him to shine through!

Some people may think God can’t use introverts. That is so far from the truth! I think there is purpose behind our different types of personalities. There is beauty in the fact that we are all beautifully and wonderfully created as well as beautifully and wonderfully different from one another. I will be the first to say that I am an introvert. And honestly, I haven’t always seen being introverted as something beautiful. I used to think of it as a disadvantage in my life. I used to think that I would never be used in certain ways like preaching and teaching because I was so shy. I was in Bible school and I would see my peers preaching and I so desperately wanted to share God’s word in the same way. Not to mention that I come from a family of ministers where preaching doesn’t just happen at church, but also at birthday parties and family dinners. It seemed like everyone around me had this public speaking gift except for me. I remember praying for God to give me boldness. I remember the first time I had to give a devotion I prayed and prepared my young little heart out. I got behind the pulpit and it was like I came alive for the very first time. I know it was God’s anointing over me! It was God shining through my insecurities and shyness.

Now it is important to know that what a pastor does behind the pulpit is only 10% of what a pastor does. It is the 90% off the pulpit that really makes you a pastor. I have learned that if I am not active in the 90% the 10% is greatly affected. Part of that 90% is fellowship and one on one counseling. It is easy to fellowship with the people I know, but just like when I was a kid I want to curl into a ball when it comes to meeting new people. In ministry you can’t avoid people because people are ministry! It takes a lot for me to get out of my comfort zone and greet people- but I have to do it. I learned this lesson in a hard but impactful way.

I was once teaching a class of new believers at my previous church. The class had a wide range of new believers. One of the new believers was a doctor, one was a professor, and another was a stay at home mom, and one of the new believers had just recently gotten clean from a drug addiction. On the first day of class, we were going to start off by sharing our testimonies. Since I was teaching the class, I went first. I started to share my testimony and I was aiming to be as transparent as possible. I shared some major things I had overcome to get out of my comfort zone and walk fully in my calling. As I was sharing my testimony one of the men there, who was over 6 feet tall and looked like he could have played professional football at one time, was balling his eyes out as I was sharing. I stopped talking to ask him if he was ok. He composed himself a little bit, cleared his throat and said, “I just need to tell you I am sorry.” His next words were, “I hated you! I thought you were the most stuck up person in the entire church.” I was so caught off guard when he said this. I was going to say something and he went on to say that he was so sorry for judging me. He said, “I didn’t know your story. You’re not stuck up! You have just been through things and you are naturally shy.” Even though he was apologizing to me, I learned a great lesson from him. I never did take much time to greet him. The truth is that he intimidated me a little bit. I started to think about how many other people felt this way towards me in the church. I knew from that point on that I needed to greet people more. I had to push myself little by little. When I first started in ministry I thought people were going to come to me just because I was a pastor. Little did I know that I had to learn to go to the people too. I had to learn to communicate and build relationships.  Pastors are often described as shepherds. Throughout history, we can see that shepherds would spend so much time with the sheep that they would start to smell like the sheep! I believe that the best pastors smell like their sheep. I want to be a pastor/leader that smells like their sheep.

Since we are all different, we all react to things in different ways. I know some people who are introverted, and a loud extrovert can make them shut down.  Also, I have heard that if someone is extraverted and they are around a quiet introvert, the silence can make them uncomfortable. People are different from one another and that is something to celebrate and embrace. Since people are so different, we too need different kinds of pastors and leaders. How ineffective would ministry be if we were all the same? How beautiful would it be if we embraced and celebrated one another as extroverts and introverts?

If you are shy, God wants to use you!

If you are quiet, God wants to use you!

If you are loud, God wants to use you!

If you are hyper, God wants to use you!

We are greater together! I may be introverted, but I got loud passion for my God and his people!