Encourager, Affirmer, Mentor

1 Comment » Written on January 24th, 2017     
Filed under: Project Deborah, Testimonies and Stories
pegThe following post is the fourth in a series of brief stories from a group of eight women who describe their personal experience(s) in being either mentored or encouraged to follow the calling of God to become a pastor. This is part of an initiative of the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality to be known as Project Deborah. Our hope is that you might also respond to God’s “nudge” to develop a Deborah that may be in your midst. Peg Melhaff has worked in Children’s ministry for over 20 years starting in the nursery, then as a teacher and now as pastor of Children’s Ministry at River Ridge Covenant Church in Olympia Washington.

I found myself answering a call of need when I stepped into the position of children’s ministry director at River Ridge Covenant Church in 2004. Our church went through a painful split and I was asked by parents of children to stay on and continue teaching and leading.

One year later Brian Wiele was called to fill the lead role at RRCC. Brian invited me to be part of the weekly staff meetings, something I had only recently been invited to by the interim pastor. Brian essentially gave me the opportunity to be part of a team approach in the leadership of the church and convinced me that he valued my input and assessment of the needs of the church. Through team building efforts, staff retreats and regular meetings I was encouraged to contribute and often sought out for my opinion. We sought God’s will together as a team. The following year I was encouraged to attend mid-winter along with other staff.

It was at mid-winter that I heard God calling me to ministry. I had been debating returning to my nursing career and cutting back on my volunteer hours but I heard God asking me to make children’s ministry my career for now, that He would provide the resources I needed to make that work for our family.

Brian was so encouraging during this discernment process. Upon my return from mid-winter we discussed office space at the church, more involvement with the staff and regular meetings to check in with one another about children and our children’s program. I was now a part of long range planning meetings and was encouraged to be on the platform Sunday mornings in different ways.

Before long Brian was encouraging me to pursue a ministry license and then proposed that I become a paid employee. This is my 5th year with the bi-vocational license but more than the license Brian has made me a peer. He is an encourager, a mentor, a shepherd, an affirmer of God’s work and presence in my life. He has a gift of non-judgmental acceptance and love that bring out the “Deborah” in myself and other women he has encouraged in our congregation. I am not sure I could have pursued the call if it were not for his mentorship and encouragement.

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One Response to “Encourager, Affirmer, Mentor”

This is such a wonderful example and it speaks to the essence of Project Deborah. Thanks so much for sharing and being open to the Lord’s call on your life. Your students will stand one day and proclaim the difference you have made in their lives because you have been faithful to your call. 

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