Oh my goodness! It just dawned on me. . . people will probably start calling me Minister or Pastor Juana! So that means I have five days left (up until the wee hours before the first church service starts) to get over the name change, accept it and be ready to walk in it.
Sunday is fast approaching. On May 17, I'll officially be the pastoral intern at Harvest UMC in Bradenton. And for the next three months I'll be emerged in all things pastoral. So yeah, I'll probably hear Pastor or Minister Juana more than a few times.
A few days ago at Candler's graduation, one of my former high school classmates -- who is also a pastor -- approached me saying, "Hey Reverend, how you doing?" My eyes got wide. My head turned from side-to-side and I wondered for a split second who he was talking to. Then last night I get a call from another high school classmate who wanted to know how he should address me this weekend at the class reunion. "Should I call you "Bishop, Reverend, Pastor, what?" he asked me.
"Juana is fine, " I said.
As I've shared before, the reason I struggle with the title is because of the weight of the responsibilities and expectations it carries. I'm in a insulated environment inside Candler where it's normal to hear Minister this or Reverend that. It's largely outside of that bubble that I squirm uncomfortably in my skin when I hear the prefix added. You never know what's coming behind it -- a joke, a snide remark, or a challenge to see whether you know what people think you should know. "So, what are apostles and are they still in existence today?"
What does that have to do with what's happening in the world right now? Nothing.
But more than anything, I often think it just doesn't sound like me. Every now and then, I go rounds with God, like Moses, offering objections to why this idea of being becoming a minister possibly won't work. Of course these are the days when I am extremely frustrated and overwhelmed by it all. Overwhelmed by what God is saying I must do. Moses gave 5 objections. I've probably given about 10 to 15 (some probably repeats) and none of them have been able to stand up in court. It's amazing who God calls. I still wonder sometimes why God chose me. Being a pastor was not what I wanted to grow up doing. I just wanted to write a few books and travel the world telling people about the liberation I've found in my relationship with Jesus.
Uhhhh, kinda sounds like a minister, huh? Yeah.
I have to remember that I prayed for God's will for my life to be my will. And God's will is for me to walk this road. And his gift in this obedience is to help me meet my greatest passion with the world's greatest need. Sure, I fight from time-to-time and wrestle with this. I'm told I probably always will. But there are the in-between times when I remember that I have been called "for such a time as this" to aid a world that hurts in a way that it didn't when I started this journey. God must think me some kind of special! And that's pretty cool.
So, Minister and Pastor Juana it is!