The Story of Seminary

I am stubborn. I am so stubborn that when I hear from God that I am supposed to be doing something, I’ll dig my heels in and say “Maybe tomorrow”.

There was a Pastor I had been working that was AWESOME. My heart is completely consumed for Jesus and His people, and I could tell this guy’s heart is as well. So, when I would get frustrated about injustice or passionate about a team not loving people well, he would calmly listen and direct me wisely.

After a couple of months working for him, he asked if I had ever considered seminary. I laughed as I had never considered working for a CHURCH, much less going to seminary! He told me I should pray about it and talk to HR regarding steps. I smiled and nodded and left.

A couple months later he stopped me in the parking lot and, fairly firmly, asked why he hadn’t gotten a call from HR stating I had started seminary. I shuffled my feet, made excuses and nodded and smiled, again. He made me promise to at least get information about it.

YEAH! My way out!!! I could get INFORMATION about it and tap out.

I could tell God was shoving me to get this done, but feelings of inadequacy and my stage of life told me it would be a reallllly stupid decision. Soooo, I stalled. Then because I had made a promise, I talked to HR and let them know my Pastor wanted me to get some “information” on seminary. I was promptly sent an invite to HR for a 15 minute meeting. AWESOME, I had kept my promise and I’d scoot out of there ASAP.

When I arrived, I saw the smile on the HR ladies face, and got a tad bit nervous. As another woman arrived, her eyes landed on me and she excitedly said, “You are going to seminary, too!”. I of course said, oh NO, I was only there for information. Looking back at the HR woman, I now distinctly remember seeing a twinkle in her eye that filled me with dread.

We prayed to start the meeting and then HR slid over a folder to each of us. As I opened it, there was a letter saying “Congratulations, we acknowledge you as a Minister…”etc… I was in shock. I said, “WAIT. I am only here to get some information on seminary!” HR looked at me and said my pastor, and the church, wanted to give me a temporary license while I finished seminary. Not to worry, I only had to take 5 courses to make it official.

WHAT?!?!?! I remember pushing the folder right back at her and said NO THANK YOU. I am in NO way a minister. I don’t need a title…I could NEVER imagine being Pastor Julie or Minister Julie or ANYTHING like that. I would like to stay in my little world downstairs encouraging, equipping and empowering God’s people to do what God built them to do. Thanks, any way!

I will never forget…she looked me straight in my eyes and said,”Everything this paper says, you are already doing. You are already a minister of God. This is just us, saying we acknowledge that.” I replied that I thought that was really nice, but lets keep it at that, and not worry about anything else.

She then rocked my world by saying, “I hear you. Again, you are already doing what God put you here to do and I hear that you don’t ‘NEED’ it. I want you to pause and think of the women who come after you. The ones that will grow up in this church and need strong women to look up to. This will help THEM.”

At that point, I acted in a very mature and professional way and started crying.  Me?!? A minister?!?!?! Me crazy, wild, prodigal, partying, loose, Julie….a Minister?! But if it’s to help others….

I could never imagine those words together. Minister Julie Sathoff. Nah-uh.

I told her I would pray about it, talk to my people then get back to her.

Sooooo, I called my husband. I said, “You will NEVER believe what happened!!”
As I explained the meeting to him, he was silent. Finalllllly, he said, “Well OF COURSE this happened. Can’t you see the path God has you on? This is You.”

That was a dumb answer, so I ignored it and planned to talk to my small group that night. THEY would agree there had to be some sort of joke! When I went over it with them, they were exchanging “looks”. When I asked their thoughts, they echoed my husband. “Julie, we are surprised it took this long. You are so good at helping other people on their paths, why can’t you see God has a path even BIGGER than this for YOU.”

That was REALLY stupid.

So I called an old long time friend. She responded by first laughing hysterically, then agreeing it sounded about right…then threatened to post old “Prior to Christ” pictures on social media. (I love her).

My last phone call was to my Mom. She was the one who cried and was upset. Born and raised in the Catholic faith, for me to officially be turning from it would break her heart. She wanted me to REALLY think about it and pray about it as her opinion was NO.

Sadly, this was the push I needed to say, “Yes”. Weird, I know, but we are all broken and my brokenness showed me – sometimes it takes opposition to strengthen my resolve. I am working on it.

Seminary hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would. I am learning by leaps and bounds. I was done with the 5 courses needed to be “official” months ago, but I am continuing as I know that is what God wants for me.

What I learned today…I thought there was no possible way I could be in school and work and have 3 boys in sports and activities and small groups and be in a small group and be a present mom and present wife, all while in school…but hanging on to Phil 4:13 I am seeing GOD is the one making it all happen. I love Him.

 

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How Informal Are You

We had a staff meeting about Informality. It is one of the Values we have here at my church that we hold dear.

At one point the moderator asked everyone who is naturally informal to raise their hand and around 80% of the staff did. Then he asked for those who struggle to make sure they are informal to raise their hands. I raise my hand for the later. When I did that, I saw multiple faces show shock.

In my current work place I am very informal 80% of the time. It is a struggle, which does surprise most people. By nature, I am fairly uptight about the workplace. My mom taught me an extremely strong work ethic, so time spent chit-chatting has been something I have had to learn over the last 4 years. It hasn’t been easy.

As I have learned a fruitful life is less about production and protocol and more about people and relationships. Again, I have LEARNED and continue learning as when I have a lot going on and a ton to do, it is still difficult for me to stop for conversation. However, Jesus modeled that some of the best Ministry comes out of interruptions.

What I learned today…

I will continue to work on being present and informal so as to set people at ease, help the feel comfortable and truly be engaged in relationships.

I will continue to spend time intentionally being loud and goofy, when I can, remembering it is more relatable.

I will also fight the urge not to be “all business” as I don’t work in a setting where it is all business.

I will work through the pull of my head to be stern in circumstances, and be more understanding.

I will pray for God to give me the wisdom to know the right and wrong times for informality and that I don’t come off too strong, but as a very loving, hard working, leader.

EXCITED!

I had the BEST meeting yesterday.

Phase 1 –

Our pastor lit a fire under our staff, reminding everyone that we NEED to be connected with God. Nothing is more important than our relationship with Jesus. (Can I get an AMEN?!)

If ministry is keeping you too busy…so busy you don’t have time with God, STOP YOUR MINISTRY.

Personally, I am a completely ordinary and broken woman. I am selfish and prideful. I am whiney and weak. If I am not talking to AND listening to God daily (usually LOTS-O-TIMES during the day), I – Julie – will be coming out in my ministry, not Jesus. That is NO BUENO.

Now I know it might be different for others, who work outside of the church. And you can excuse it with how you can’t talk about God at work, you talk to Him before work or after work, knowing the Bible won’t logically help you at YOUR job.

That is WRONG.

God actually wrote – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Colossians 3:23-24

That was written for people working EVERYWHERE! It was even written for those working IN the home. No excuses!

Think of what it would be like, if more of us – wherever we are, are reading the Bible to learn more about how God wants us to live…and then being a LIVING testimony to those around us. At all times! Before, during and after anything we are doing!

Having people watch how YOU are behaving in good and bad situations – You being that example someone needs to influence them to start their own relationship with Jesus. That is powerful. That can forward the kingdom. Just by your actions!

Go to church! You will not only learn what the Bible says, but you will learn to get along with others. How? When you really belong to a church, you realize it is truly a family. The good that bad and the crazy. AND you can grow in learning how to deal with it all more than you could ever imagine.

And it’s worth it.

Phase 2 –

Walking out of the meeting I saw a co-worker I hadn’t seen in a while.

Now let me first say, I LOVE that God has given me a gift of seeing how beautifully people were built. But with that comes the burden of seeing when people are doing something they are NOT built for as well. That part is no fun.

When I saw this guy, I immediately remembered the last time I had seen him as he was getting comfortable in a new position. At that time, I had seen clearly that it was a temporary position for him. Something he COULD do, but not necessarily what he SHOULD be doing.

I asked how his new position was treating him, (a NewER position than the last time) and his response was AWESOME. His eyes automatically lit up and he said he loves it. When I probed a bit, he said he knew the position would be opening and he might be asked about it. It wasn’t anything he had ever thought of, but went to God with it and asked if that was the direction he should step in. God said YES.

As he was talking, he became more and more animated and excited, then proceeded to bring out his phone and started excitedly showing pictures of all they are doing.

It was AWESOME! By being obedient to God by going in to a position that he wasn’t built for, and stewarding it well, God was then able to open a position that was a perfect match.

Are you in a position you are not built for? Do the BEST YOU CAN as if working for the Lord, not man…as HE does have better for you.

And my prayer for you is for you to find that job that makes you excited to wake up and go to work. That is the perfect fit for you. I pray that you don’t waste time where you are at now. That you use this time to learn as much as you can to prepare you for the next step.

If you never get to that next step, I pray that when you appear before God, He has the biggest smile on his face and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” and you get the HUGE reward that is promised for your hard work.

What I learned today…Stay connected to God through the Bible, Church services, small group and prayer. That way HE comes out in my work and life. AND keep in mind who I really work for. That He has my best interest at heart and I just need to be the best ME I can be in any situation He puts me in.