I was struggling with my new pastor’s attitude toward me and my work for the Lord in our church and I sought wisdom from God.
I begged him to guide me to make the right decision about my spiritual future…what happened next would help shape my future. I sought help from a deacon I thought I could trust. I met with him, and brought notes I had received from my current pastor; it was documentation of put downs, and other references that visually displayed the way I had been treated for almost two years. A meeting was called and I finally found the courage to confront the man that had literally bullied me from an office and a pulpit with church members in front of us.
As I shared things that had happened to me, the man stood up, called me a liar, told me I would never be a minister to anyone ever, and walked out of the room, to which I have never, ever spoken to him again. That night I turned in my keys and walked away. The pastor had already had a “legal” document drawn up to fire me that day from a lawyer in our church. I did agree to meet in the lawyer’s office the following afternoon.
It’s funny how the devil works in people who know the truth but doesn’t want others to know. After reading the document, it stated that the church would pay me two month’s salary upon my leaving the position, but only if I didn’t tell people what had happened, and my story.
I’ll never forget what my dad told that lawyer; a man whose daughter I had watched give her life to Christ in a Bible study on Sunday evening, who I played tennis with, and treasured his family dearly, that I wasn’t going to “lie for him and or anyone else” by signing that paper.
I graduated from Divinity school a couple of months later but was still grieving, feeling sorry for myself and prayed for God’s guidance, compassion, and strength to hold me up. I received a couple of calls following my departure from churches asking me to consider working in their church as youth minister but my heart was broken, I didn’t feel as if I was capable to lead anyone, and I didn’t feel that church was a good place for people anymore, so declined the offers and stayed low on myself.
After a month and a half of trying to put my life back together, I received a phone call from out of nowhere asking me if I was interested in coaching girl’s tennis at a private Christian school. The voice on the other end was a “famous” small town sports writer and basketball player back in the day. I told him I would love to do that, but that I needed a full time job, his comment back to me was, “I’ll see what I can do”.
Two days later, the headmaster from the school called me directly and offered me a job coaching, teaching, and ministering to over 300 students, 30 faculty and staff, and without interview, invited me to tour the school, where she would be glad to show me my new classroom!! “No way” was going through my mind…How could this be? Me? All the words that the pastor had told me, “you can’t do this”, “you’re not good enough”, “you’ll never be a minister” flooded my heart and I was afraid.
But God showed up and said, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I created you with a plan and a purpose that no one can take away. You were chosen by Me for My purpose, trust Me.” “Never be a Minister” he said, but God said, “You are”, and gave me more young people than would have ever walked through the doors of that church to lead, teach, and coach.
I had the opportunity to have my son John Michael, with me in preschool thru kindergarten, Blythe in elementary school, and the welcoming of our second son, Luke, during my years there. During these years, I obtained my teaching license to become a state recognized certified teacher, proving once again, that I could and would overcome the negative that had been shown to me, remember the dean?
My years at the private school were wonderful, but, once again I ran into conflict. Being at a private school, politics run deep, and I was not a political person. Things were happening on the inside to good people that were not good. I couldn’t accept the way some were being controlled as I recognized from my own experience, what being controlled felt like, and it was wrong to treat people that way. Eventually it got to me.
One day a good friend of mine called me while John Michael and I were playing golf during that same summer break. She explained that a PE position was open in a public school system and that she thought I needed to apply for it; her exact words were, “You’ve been in the Christian school long enough, public education needs you”. But I was hired not only as the PE teacher at the elementary school, but was also given the head varsity softball and tennis positions at the high school as well. Really? Had God once again showed up in my life and provided not only an opportunity, but confirmation….
I couldn’t believe it, the more people tried to take away from me, the more God gave. Since that day, I have had an opportunity to speak to congregations on Sunday mornings for Women’s Days, Youth Days, Youth events, and also had opportunity to speak at women’s conferences. God is using my testimony in a powerful way by drawing others to Him. One of the most treasured accounts of me, given to me by a colleague in my first public school was that I had a “quiet faith that spoke loudly”.
I currently teach in the public school system, often referring my teaching to ministry. Another colleague from my college days, as I substituted in a middle school near my home, sent me a card when she found out about my ordination, her plans for me were to stay in the classroom as a teacher for the rest of my life. The card read something along the lines of, “You may be a doctor, lawyer, a fast food worker, a coach, or a teacher by trade but this IS the ministry God has called you to, use it for His purpose.”
This journey is only a chapter of the book of joy and promise I have experienced in my life and I’m excited about what God has for my future but thank Him for the strength I draw from my past. “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
This is the final part of Beth Bartlett-Best’s Journey of Faith.