Transitioning through the Fog: An Interview with Pastor Deborah Powe Part 2
Ministries constantly evolve and face transitions of many kinds. In my recent discussion about transitions in ministry with Pastor Deborah Powe, she shared the story of her transition to Lead Pastor of Revealing Truth Ministries in Tampa, Florida. You can read Part One of this interview here.
Bishop Fuller: How do you transition and remain involved in the ministry? What do you do after the passing of a loved one?
Pastor Deborah Powe: God was still talking to me for the first few times that I went into the pulpit. He would wake me up at night and tell me the needs of our congregation, how they were hurting and trying to process the loss of my husband. They loved him. The congregation was comfortable with me, my teaching, and the leadership roles I had in the church. Still, they loved my husband; sometimes people are connected to people instead of being connected to the vision and direction of the church. I don’t think anybody actually questioned our succession plan, though, because Greg had already started pushing me to do more pastoral work.
Our son, Brian, had already become the COO of the church, however, I was concerned about my capacity to pastor. The first couple of times I walked into the church to teach, I almost had a panic attack. I prayed, “God, You’re going to have to help me walk to the front of this church and teach these people.” When I saw how much my church was hurting from the passing of my husband, my heart just went out to them. God is tremendous in the ways that He will cause ministry to come to you and through you. Let’s put it this way, He’ll jerk the slack out of you. When I wanted to go down a particular road, He wouldn’t let me. He kept telling me, “Deborah, there’s a purpose for your life; that’s why you’re still living, and you’re still breathing.” The prayers of the righteous avail much, and I could feel people’s prayers; that kept me strong.
Bishop Fuller: That was great, and I understand. My daughter passed three months after my wife, Jean, passed, and I understand the panic attacks and the long healing process. After my loss, people asked what I liked to do, and I would tell them, “I like traveling, and I love preaching.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, I couldn’t travel, and preaching invitations ceased. I went back to work—the best decision I could have made at that time. We have about 400 other pastors at CDMA that needed help, ministry, and counseling. That allowed me to take the focus off of my circumstances. You get what you give away, and the love, kindness, and compassion given out has come back in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
Pastor Deborah Powe:You have to see how to move forward. Again, we all process things differently. For me, I just have to have a clear understanding. I want to see what God thinks. I would pray and just ask God, “Show me how You’re seeing this because I’m disturbed and might not be seeing it right. You said that You’d give me peace, so I must be viewing it out of the wrong lens. Just show me how You are seeing this and how this is supposed to go.”
I think sometimes we try to get to this place of healing faster than how God is taking us. When we reflect on the stopping of something and the start of something else, we may not like the perspective of the new thing. We have to allow God to renew our minds again. I’ve talked to several ladies who were pastoring with their husbands, and I reach out to them to let them know I’m here because it’s an interesting place. Some of them have said things like, “I’m never going to get married again.” “That was it.” “I’m done!” “That was the one; it’s over.” And this is my question to them, “Did you decide that or did God decide that?”
Sometimes we make decisions and choices that aren’t the decisions and choices God is making for us. God’s plan for your life did not stop just because your spouse is no longer here. You need to get with God so you can garner His peace, joy, and happiness.
I had to combat people dragging me down to where they were. I’d meet people saying, “I’m so sorry this happened,” and I’d just want them to stop. I reminded them that Greg lived a very full life; he enjoyed his life. A lot of times people want you to be quiet and not talk about it, but talking was therapeutic for me. Any time someone transitions, the first thing I want people to know is to let their loved ones talk.
Bishop Fuller: I would add to that part—just be honest with yourself. If you’re hurting, you’re hurting; if you’re not, you’re not. You will have those moments, and I describe it kind of like this: On a foggy day, you’re driving through the fog, and all of a sudden, you come out on the other side. Everything looks so clear and bright, then all of a sudden, you ride back into the fog again. You may go in and out of the fog, but we know that the Son is at the end of the fog—the S-O-N. He will always be present and promised that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us.