‘Following in your Mother’s footsteps’ is often what is said to me when people find out I’m training for Baptist ministry… But that’s not quite how it is.
I wouldn’t completely class myself as a ‘Pastor’s Kid’ as I was married with a baby on the way when mum (Barbara Carpenter) moved away to start her training. So being older I observed from a safe distance the highs and lows of starting out and continuing ministry after college.
When people ask ‘when did you know you were called?’ I find it really hard to answer. As a toddler I would sit my sister down and preach to her! The often quoted line for those times of parents sharing embarrassing stories was ‘Go home and tell your Mother that Jesus loves her’! But I’m not sure that was when I knew I was called!
Well the real time I began to know I was called was back in 2009, when I began working for the Methodist Circuit as a Children and Families Worker. It was the first time I had really stepped out in Church life from under the shadow of my parents’ wings. In that time of standing on my own two feet, with God holding me so very tight, I knew I had begun to find what I was created to do.
The highs and lows of church life took their toll on me as I returned to worshipping in Yeovil, but the niggle of God kept pushing me to listen to his call, until, in 20I6, I got to the point when I could deny it no longer and took the first step. As mum said in her story too, I was still feeling completely inadequate, so I tested the water by just signing up for my degree. Well it became quickly apparent on starting at Bristol Baptist College that it was where God wanted me to be, but I needed to be on the formation training as well as the degree. And I am living proof that if God calls you to ministry, he will equip you even when it comes to writing Doctrine essays!
So while, yes, I am following in my mother’s footsteps, I know I am doing what God created me to do. He’s led me to a wonderful church in Crewkerne with a chaplaincy role alongside it in the local secondary school, both of which will challenge and bless me I know.
My advice to other women (or men!) thinking about their call to ministry would be, don’t be afraid to push the doors, to trust that sense of peace and in fact that sense of unease, because when you find that thing that God has created you to be, there really is no better feeling. Even when life is complete madness of meetings, essays, lectures, children’s school uniform washing, services, God is faithful and there through it all.