Several years ago, Rev. Kathy Dobbins shared her ministry calling story in a workbook she co-authored on God’s call and the journey of faith. As we celebrate Martha Stearns Marshall Month, we are sharing edited excerpts of Kathy’s story from that publication with her permission.
My first full-time job was at the downtown Rich’s department store where my grandmother worked twenty years. As a data operator, my days were a dull, mindless routine. For me, it was like most first jobs—no great revelations, no burning bush experience to guide me. After graduating from Georgia State University and working my way through as a secretary, I spent ten years in commercial real estate.
In the beginning it was exciting because it was a new experience and the days were fast paced. After a while, I began to notice that I was more drained than energized by my work. I was coming to grips with burnout and knowing I was not in the right career. I lobbied for and got a promotion that brought more responsibility, but I never had a moment’s peace from that day forward. In the midst of a depressed market, I lost my job.
During my time of unemployment, a transformation was taking place, even though I did not know where it would lead. My faith in God took on a new maturity in this process. Even though there were clues to what I would do next, I kept thinking, “People like me don’t go into professional ministry.” I had two strikes against me in Baptist life at the time: being female and being divorced.
Thankfully, I had been in a church for twelve years where women were affirmed in all leadership roles, and no one was excluded simply because they had been divorced. After the singles minister left the church, my peers asked if they could offer my name to the personnel committee to fill the interim position. They didn’t know I had been thinking about the possibility of ministry for a year, and their affirmation of me helped me learn my calling.
One day I was reviewing the journal I kept at the time and came across an entry dated two years earlier in which I wrote the word “ministry” with a question mark beside it. As I entered my new ministerial role, it was like slipping my hand in a glove. The last piece of the puzzle fell into place for me. I had come to love the work of the church and was finally able to see that God used the people of the church, the desires of my heart, and the circumstances that lined up just right to communicate my calling.
I have been at Smoke Rise Baptist since 2000. Over the last 18 years I have continued to discover in others and in myself the way God never stops working to help us become the people we are called to be. My ministry has largely been one of equipping God’s people for service, and I am grateful for each day of service at Smoke Rise. I learned my calling through the encouragement of a local church, and it is wonderful to be part of a church like Smoke Rise that affirms my giftedness for ministry.