Monday, April 2, 2018

The Samuels Among Us: Molly Just

Rev. Molly Just and Hubs, Kyle
During March, I interviewed four persons who entered into vocational ministry under the age of 25 and remained in that same position for at least 5 years.   

My prayer is that their stories will encourage you who are hearing the faint whispers of the Holy Spirit. And if you are currently in the tough trenches of ministerial work, know that The Call will sustain you--no matter what! You got this because God's got this! 💪✌❤

I want to thank Kelly Lindsley for naming this month's blog series. He is the husband of my favorite teacher, Catherine Lindsley. He is an amazing contemporary Christain artist, and his lyrics are nearly sacramental. (Can I say that?😆)

Like a gardener who sets up the ideal greenhouse in which plants can flourish, Rev. Molly Just helps to create the ideal environment for 18-22 year-olds to grow in their faith.  Through covenant groups, classes, capstones and service opportunities, she guides undergrads as the Director of the Discipleship program at Southwestern College (my ole' stompin' ground). While her green thumb is gentle and sensitive towards her Gen. Z bulbs, she shears keenly and prunes with high standards.  I learned much from her interview below and I hope you do too, friend.

As one who entered into a full-time ministerial career at a young age, is there something about this profession that makes it weird? If not weird, what makes this type of work unique when compared to other professions? 

Oh, man! Coming back to serve at Southwestern two years after I graduated was weird in that I was always (and still sometimes am) mistaken for a college student. I have many distinct memories, especially my first year serving in this role, where I would meet people on mission trips or during service opportunities in the community with the discipleship team and would hear “You’re too young to be the pastor here!” I would just smile, and say “I love my job, I am passionate about living out my calling as I lead these students and we’re glad to be here. Let’s get to work.”

What is one common misconception of those who serve in full-time ministry settings that you would like to correct? 

A common misconception I observe is that sometimes folks think that pastors have all the gifts – as in, they are there to be the preacher, teacher, leader, evangelist, prophet, administrator, etc. An important spiritual reality that we could live into more as a Church is that pastors are people who are a part of the body of Christ. They are often ordained and called to serve the church or another ministry in that way, but that doesn’t make them better or more gifted than anyone else. The Church makes up the body of Christ and we need everyone, ordained and lay, to use their gifts to keep the body moving and functioning correctly. It’s a team effort always!

What was it about this ministerial “gig” that made you feel called to it? What parts were most in line with your gifts/talents? 
I have strong gifts in teaching and shepherding and it was always my dream to work with college students in a ministerial role that could combine them both. The requirements of my current job beautifully weave those gifts together. I get to walk alongside students during one of the most formative seasons of their lives. I also get to teach some courses at the college and develop different types of curricula which is my jam!

By your 5th year, what percent of your job involved these pieces that brought you there in the first place? 

The most important pieces that brought me to my job are still at the heart of it today – formation through covenant groups, sharing testimonies, teaching, and college students. I’ve worked to shape the academic piece of the discipleship program a bit more during my time here, but the true heart of the program has remained the same. I’ve found it’s my job to champion that piece.

During your first year on the job, who was your mentor? What made him/her a good mentor?

During my first year on the job I was informally mentored by so many different people like Rev. Ashlee Alley who (maybe strangely or not strangely) was in my job before me. Ashlee has always been an important mentor in my life and during that first year on the job she always encouraged me and answered questions.

Also, my colleagues and friends, Jackson and Julie Lashier, really supported me that first year and were always rooting for me. My boss, Dr. Cheryl Rude, allowed me to “free fall to fly” and she was there whenever I needed her. The things that people like Ashlee, Jackson, Julie, and Cheryl hold in common is that they know when to listen when to speak and when to celebrate the heck out of you.

What did your day of Sabbath (rest) look like during the first year? What does it look like now?

My life that first year had to be incredibly intentional. I was finishing my Masters of Divinity degree and working full time. When I took the job at SC, I realized that my “yes” would require extra care of my time as I sought to work, finish school and maintain good relationships with my husband and my community of friends. Sabbath has been an important part of my rhythm for a long time and it looks similar today to how it did back then – taking a full day off for rest, fun, play, outdoor activities, cooking, having friends over for dinner, visiting family – basically all of the things that give and speak beauty into my life.

Did you ever have a moment when you wanted to “throw in the towel” (quit)? Sharing as much as you feel comfortable--what all occurred? 

I’ve definitely had a few of those moments, I think everyone does at one point or another. Sometimes things happen that are just hard – people make choices with challenging consequences, budgets are cut, or in sometimes I feel inadequate at my job or overwhelmed by the circumstances associated with it. In those moments I’ve learned to be gentle, set boundaries, and to take care of myself. I’ve also had the healthy realization that it doesn’t all depend on me and it would be crazy if it did. I remind myself that Jesus is the one who does the work and I have an amazing team of people around me. I’m here to be a team player.

What changed your mind and kept you in the game/ in line with your vocational calling? 

I always think of the faces of the students that God has called me to serve. Something hard can happen at work, and then I have two amazing seconds with students where they make me laugh, or where I watch them care for each other and I’m reminded that I LOVE them so much. And for whatever reason God has called and gifted me to be with them in this season. They bring me deep joy, which has been an important way for me to know that I am living into my vocational calling.

What lesson(s) did you learn from the experience of question 7? 

I’ve learned that it’s important to have a group of people around you that can help carry both the burdens and joys of ministry. For the last year and a half, I’ve been banding together with an intentional group of 4 other women. We read scripture and pray for each other daily, and we meet weekly on Zoom to talk about how we’re doing and how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives. This has been THE thing outside of Jesus that has kept me in ministry, I’m sure of it. This practice is a part of what I like to call “digging a deep spiritual well.” I’m a better disciple, wife, pastor, colleague, and friend because I know there is a group of at least four other people that deeply love me for me (faults, quirks and all).

For those youngsters out there who are feeling a Divine Nudge to enter into full-time ministry, what advice would you offer them? 

Explore it! First and foremost, root yourself in the disciplines of scripture, prayer and meeting together in Christian community. These things will help you figure out how God speaks. Calling is personal in some ways, but it’s also confirmed by the community. Start making connections, and seizing opportunities. Interview someone that has, what you would consider to be, a “dream job.” Ask the people around you to help you think outside the box and confirm your gifts. Full-time ministry as we’re talking about it here doesn’t always = pastoring. It could include non-profit work, academia, or a vocation like counseling. Explore, explore, explore and trust that God works through process, over time and will be faithful to his calling on your life.

Discover more about Rev. Molly Just's ministry at Southwestern College here