I’m Just As Called As You Are: Making My Peace With The Apostle Paul

Today was my last intern group meeting – in which we presented our final evaluations of ourselves to each other. One of the Level I Outcomes for Introductory CPE is to articulate the themes of our religious heritage and their impact on pastoral practice.

To be honest, I’m a little sad that my analysis of my religious heritage read a tad angrily, with ample notes of hostility. I was raised in a tradition that elevated the apostle Paul and his teachings, and I have been impacted by the misinterpretation of those writings in regard to my role, as a woman, in Christian ministry.

I started off with how I tend to second-guess myself going into pastoral visits at the hospital, because I might run into someone who doesn’t think that as a woman, I can give them good pastoral care.

I’ve tended toward a “thanks a lot, Paul” attitude, and I’ve been less than impressed with the tone of Paul’s letters. My answer to this religious heritage question was a kind of attack on him, and was meant to be demeaning; but my supervisor redeemed it for me, and I like the new position a whole lot better.

“If Paul gets to call himself an apostle even though he didn’t know Jesus before, during, post passion, I certainly can and do, call myself a preacher and I can be a pastor if I want to.” 

That’s what I put in my paper – and I felt guilty for being disrespectful, but then my supervisor turned it around for me. She said she loves Paul. I was like “whoops, sorry.” (Not really though) But then, she said this: ” and what better companion to have than someone who had to fight to be accepted as an apostle, who had to learn of God’s call the hard way, and had to work hard?”

I’d never thought of it that way.

Paul faced critics (and still does) who discounted his apostleship as invalid. He believed he was called by God to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ and he had to fight to be accepted as legit. (1 Cor 11:21-30)

Perhaps we have more in common than I previously would have cared to admit. But I’m pleased to welcome this reality and happy to have such a companion for the journey.

Was he called by God? So am I. Was he equipped through the spirit? So am I.  Was he a minister? So am I. Did he preach the gospel? SO CAN I!

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