Monday, May 31, 2010

To God be the Glory

Sunday was a great experience of worship as Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville ordained Tambi Brown Swiney, their associate pastor, to the gospel ministry. Tambi has worked out her call to ministry over a number of years. After she was married and became a mother, Tambi perceived a call to ministry. With the support of her family, she enrolled in the master of divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham and began a commuter student existence. At the same time, she continued to serve through her church in Nashville.

At the ordination service, a mutual friend made the comment that he remembered serving alongside Tambi as a preschool worker during VBS when he was a teenager. He observed that Tambi had “worked up through the ranks” and certainly deserved this affirmation of her ministry.

Although we don’t think of ministerial roles as a hierarchy, there is something to be said for “paying your dues” in church life. Before one can aspire to leadership roles that involve the “care of souls” in a pastoral role, he or she should be willing to serve in roles where gifts can be identified and skills honed. This may be working in the nursery, welcoming guests, setting up tables and chairs, stuffing envelopes, or any number of other seemingly menial but important tasks in the life of the church.

Leadership roles in the church come with a great deal of responsibility, and one only realizes that by “working up through the ranks.” I am reminded of James 3:1—“Not many of you should presume to be teachers . . . because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Tambi’s ordination on Sunday was an affirmation that she has displayed gifts for ministry and leadership in all areas of church life, but the litany of commitment reminds her and all of us that whatever we do, we do “with the help of God.” To God be the glory! God bless you, Tambi.

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