“How can God really use me in this position?”
The question completely caught me off guard. Julia Pyle had been a part of our ministry for years and is highly gifted. As her pastor, I had personally witnessed her serving and helping others many times. She has incredible wisdom and compassion, enabling her to speak the truth in love in such a way that even those she corrects know she has their best interest at heart. She sees the big picture clearly. She quickly identifies the giftedness of those around her. She is a leader of leaders.
But there she was, wondering if she could make a difference in the kingdom of God and the world.
For years, Julia has served God as a nurse. As she cared for patients, she would pray with and for them, offer them words of encouragement and point them to Christ. But she is no longer at the bedside. She is now the chief operating officer/chief nursing officer of a regional hospital.
However, the journey from serving as a nurse to hospital executive had left her wondering about her kingdom impact. Every time she took a step up in leadership, she found herself one step farther from ministering directly to patients. Each step felt like a step away from ministry.
That was three years ago. Today, Julia clearly sees how God has gifted her as a leader to make a kingdom impact both in the marketplace and in the church.
The journey began as Julia and I met weekly for coaching purposes. We read The Executive Calling by Roger Anderson and 5Q by Alan Hirsch. We strengthened our biblical understanding of women in leadership within the body of Christ. And she attended Exponential, a conference for church leaders focused on multiplication. Julia discovered that Christ had given her the giftings of an apostle. She was called by God to lead.
“I take great joy in helping others develop their giftedness and calling in the kingdom of God.”
This was hard for her to accept at first. In her mind, Ephesians 4:11 (NLT) was about full-time pastors, not lay people like herself: “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.” She discovered that God’s gifts of leadership and apostleship are for the whole body of Christ, not reserved for full-time pastors.
As an executive, Julia’s mission is to foster an environment that promotes optimal healing. “It is hard to care for others when your bucket is empty,” said Julia. “I use the opportunities God gives me to speak love and biblical principles into everyday life issues in the workplace. The goal is to strengthen people I work with and fill their buckets so they can serve others well.” She now understands that her position as COO/CNO is an opportunity to disciple and strengthen her leadership team. In many ways, she is a pastor to those she leads.
The impact of Julia’s leadership goes far beyond the hospital walls.
The impact of Julia’s leadership goes far beyond the hospital walls. When God called me to start a rural church planting and revitalization network, Julia quickly saw the vision. She took the lead in making the vision become a reality and now serves on the Board of Directors of Dirt Roads Network. She guides the direction of the ministry.
When Lamont Wesleyan Church and Dirt Roads Network felt called to start a new church in Emporia, Kansas, the city in which Julia works, she immediately jumped on board. She used her influence to place the planting pastor, Mark Adams, on the hospital’s ethics board. She began to coach him on organizational leadership and assisted in envisioning the planting plan. Julia has also connected Pastor Mark with community leaders and potential ministry partners. Most recently, she played a key role in bringing several leaders together to launch a new college ministry at Emporia State University. While she will not lead this ministry, she brought the leaders together and will coach and encourage them along the way.
“My role is to steward my influence to open doors for ministry,” said Julia. “I take great joy in helping others develop their giftedness and calling in the kingdom of God. Every believer is on a ministry career path. There is no separation between the secular and church worlds. All one has to do is listen to the Holy Spirit and obey what he says. When you do, you experience the joy of being used by God to change the world.”