A female pastor’s journey

Ps Joey Chen (right) with her husband, Andrew Leong

If someone had told me 15 years ago that I’d become a pastor one day, I wouldn’t have believed it. Unlike some of my peers who have always had an idea of their pastoral calling, or others who were on fire for God since their youth, I was somewhat of a late bloomer when it came to faith. Although I became a Christian at 12, I didn’t think about God’s purpose for my life until I was 26.

It started innocuously enough, when I attended the Young Methodist Leaders’ Conference. It’s a long story, but the short version is that I encountered God powerfully during altar ministry, and the pastor who prayed for me challenged me to surrender my life to God. As I surrendered areas of my life to God, I began to see how faithful, trustworthy and good He is, and that eventually led me to surrender my entire life to God and ask, “God, what is Your purpose for me?”

The answer to that question began with the passing thought that it would be an honour if God found me suitable for full-time ministry. As I continued to pray and seek the Lord, that thought gradually grew into a desire, and the desire turned into conviction. But I needed God’s confirmation, so I asked God to show me exactly which area of full-time ministry he was calling me to.

I remember getting very frustrated a few months into intensely seeking God for an answer—I had reflected over and over again on my experiences, skills and spiritual gifts, hoping that they would converge on some point, but they ever did. The day the answer finally came, I was crossing the road and having a “table-banging” emotional conversation with God. I asked God, “Are You going to tell me or not?!” A peace suddenly washed over me and these words came into my mind, clear as day, “Pastoral care.”

One of the greatest privileges of being a pastor is being able to devote myself to growing in intimacy with God and growing as a person in order to serve God’s people more effectively. Recently, God has reminded me to “run in such a way as to get the prize…so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Cor 9:24, 27 NIV). The other great privilege of pastoring is being able to journey with others, and seeing the reward of them growing and/or overcoming. Yet another is the joy of being able to sow into God’s eternal kingdom.

Throughout this journey, I was fortunate to have mentors who guided me in discerning my call to ordained ministry. As a female pastor, I am extremely interested in exploring the concept of female leadership, and developing a leadership style that works for me. On occasion, women may feel more comfortable approaching me to pray for them or journey with them because I’m a woman.

I don’t feel that I am treated any differently from my male counterparts. But almost every time I take a taxi or a private hire car, when the drivers find out I’m a pastor, most of them exclaim, “I didn’t know there were female pastors!” It makes for a good segue into talking about my work and my faith.

Credit: Ps Joey Chen has been a Member-On-Trial since 2018. She is married to Andrew Leong, who is currently a lay pastor in an Anglican church. She enjoys reading, singing, watching movies and sipping good coffee. / Photo courtesy of Ps Joey Chen