Stories - Theology in the Ordinary Danielle Jones

Danielle JonesNTS recently interviewed Danielle Jones, a 2012 graduate of the Master of Divinity program.

Tell us about yourself. 

I’m a driven, goal-oriented, “What’s up next?” kinda lady. Slowing down is hard for me. I’m the girl who planned out her own farm girl-themed birthday sleepover, complete with an hourly agenda that including waking up at 5 a.m. so we could hunt outside for chicken eggs (the ones from the supermarket my mom hid for us) — and all this long before Pinterest! I like coffee both because it tastes delicious when combined with just the right amount of cream and because it helps me move faster. I’m also a super sensitive person. I have a pair of antennae that are often looking out to see what others are thinking, feeling and wondering. This sensitivity enables me to feel others’ pain with them and also leaves me easily vulnerable to being hurt.

Describe how you sensed a call to vocational ministry?

When I was five, God called me into full-time ministry. When I was twelve, I had my life planned out and decided that saying “yes” to this call was an important next step toward my future. Over the span of years I came to learn that while God had certainly given me my agenda-driven, goal-oriented spirit, He needed me to surrender to His plans and, at the same time, He would so graciously invite my full self to the table as a co-laborer with Him.

I am forever grateful for the hands of God’s people. They are hands laid on my back, confirming God’s calling and sending me wherever He might be leading, faithful hands of my mother and father, the wrinkled hands of a preschool SS teacher, the youth worker’s hands, covered with paint-ball markings, the professors’ hands, the hands laid on my head at my ordination. All of these faithful men and women have been reminders of God’s calling on my life and propellers used to send me in the direction of God’s callings.

Where have you served throughout your ministry? Where do you currently serve? 

In 2008, I began serving at Summit View Church of the Nazarene, a small congregation with deep roots in the Kansas City area. My goal-driven tendencies enabled me to relish in the organizational and administrative aspects of pastoring and my compassionate spirit was drawn into the work of shepherding a people in their real, everyday lives. I treasured hospital calls, visits in the home, coffee chats and long hours pouring over theological texts as I studied for a sermon and how to present a given text to my people.

I now speak in past tense about those wonderful pastoral duties. In all of my plans, including those ones I made when I was 12, I never imagined adding an “-ed”, a past tense to pastoring, leading, shepherding. Yet, just as God had used the hands of many faithful people to lead me this far, He would again use hands to call me into my next right thing.

What makes your current assignment unique. What do you love about it?   

I’m currently a stay-at-home momma of two little ones, four tiny hands, ten sweet pb&j stained fingers. I’m a pastor to a congregation of two. Just four years after the laying on of hands at my ordination, just eight years into pastoring my first church, God used the hands of two little girls to call me into a new season of my life.

“I’m a pastor.” It always felt special to say that. Unique. Important. When I now answer the famous, “And what do you do?” question with, “I stay home with my girls.” it doesn’t quite feel as important. Oh, trust me, I know it is. I know many people would love to do what I do every day. I’m grateful, but I’m also here to tell you that it’s humbling. It’s not exactly how I always saw my future. I thought I could do it all. Do both. Mom and Pastor right alongside each other. So many other wonderful pastors do both. But for me, God said, “Go home. Stay with them. Be present. Fully present there.”

If I learned anything from my time at NTS, it was this, “Trust God’s faithfulness.” So, once more with the hands of other faithful prayer warriors, friends and family members laid on my back, I resigned and went home into a future that is unknown. The future-oriented little girl in me still wants the detailed map of what tomorrow will hold, but I don’t have it. Will I preach again? Lead another board meeting? Hold the hands of my dying parishioner? Shepherd a people not my own? I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m learning to trust the hands of our faithful Father as I respond in faithfulness to simply do the next right thing He is calling me to do.

What are some of the unique blessings/challenges in your context?

Being a full-time stay-at-home mom is so much fun. I absolutely love what I get to do every day. Still, it is one of the hardest things I have ever set my hands to do. I am learning that I have been given a beautiful invitation to live out theology in the ordinary. Every day there are a hundred opportunities for God to do His sanctifying work within me. When I’m prompted to forgive my sweet four-year-old who calls me the worst name she can possibly think of because she’s hurting and she hasn’t yet mastered control of her tongue in her frustrated moments, God meets me in that ordinary moment and sanctifies me. When I’m witnessing what feels like a war between toddlers in my living room and my presence is needed to calm the chaos and speak peace into the conflict, God shapes me. He uses me right there beside my own decorative couch pillow – the one I’d once intended parishioners to rest on. When we play beside other mommas at the park or in a playgroup, I witness the slow building of the kingdom of God without fanfare or spotlight. When I’m making Hello Kitty shaped pancakes in the kitchen morning after morning or mud pies in the backyard for the seventeenth time today, or matching itty-bitty baby socks over and over again, I’m learning that I can reflect the creative acts of God in the tiniest, most ordinary ways.

In these ordinary, obscure, everyday, slow-life moments, I actually reflect the life of God and declare to myself, my neighbors, my fellow church members and my girls that all of life is sacred. It matters. All of it. What I once preached to my small congregation I now get to practice daily. As the book of Leviticus so clearly reminds us, God is intimately concerned with every part of our lives. God is found in the details. There is value in the ordinary. Jesus, God incarnate, spent so much of His life in ordinary, obscure, unrecorded, non-stadium spotlight ways. These unrecorded moments of Jesus’ life are now my daily motivation, the confirmation that what I am doing is important, sacred stuff. The work of being present, fully present, at a slow, unhurried pace is valuable, extremely valuable, even if I have nothing to show for it at the end of the day.

My current calling is to spend my days with two little girls, without much of an agenda, not in a hurry, just here, in our home, in our little community, in our own backyard. I am finding that the life of God is all around us and I see it more fully when I slow down, put my knees to the earth, play in the sandbox and smell the roses right alongside my little wonder-ers.

Are there ways in which your time at NTS especially helped prepare you for faithful and effective ministry?

I am forever grateful for the faithfulness of men and women at NTS who obeyed God’s calling on their lives. I am where I am because of the laying on of hands that happened at NTS, the affirmation of giftings and callings, the molding and shaping of my heart and life, the work that happened around the altar, the classroom, in offices, coffee shops, and homes. It is because of the faithfulness of so many of these I’ve just mentioned that I am finding peace in my current calling, that I’m able to live faithfully in the unshakeable kingdom of God and join Him in the work He is doing in me and all around me.

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