I felt a lump in my throat as I looked out across the sanctuary of the 1,900 member congregation—the church where I had been senior pastor for nine weeks. It was the same sort of lump I had when my son, Caleb Daniel Leach, was placed into my arms for the very first time.
As I held Caleb, tears streamed down my face and onto his precious cheeks. I was madly in love. He was beautiful. I studied his fingers, his tiny toes, his gigantic eyelashes, and his chubby cheeks. The more I studied him, the more in love I fell, and the more in awe I became. As I held him, I began to pray with that lump in my throat, “Lord, I am in awe that you have made something so beautiful and have now entrusted me to walk with, love, nurture, and lead this child.”
That Sunday morning as I looked across the congregation, similar emotions came over me. As I gave the benediction, I could hold it in no longer:
“May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face smile upon you
And be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn his face toward you
And give you peace.
First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena, I love you more than you know.”
After I said it, I thought to myself, Did I really just say that out loud? But I did, and I didn’t care. I was in love, and I needed to tell them. It’s only been a few months since I started serving this wonderful congregation, but as each day passes, I discover something new and beautiful about her. As I study the hands and feet of the Bride, I am in awe that God has entrusted me to walk with her, love her, nurture her, and lead her.
You’re the Senior Pastor?
I have always had a pastor’s heart, but moving from a staff pastor role to a senior pastor role is in so many ways a new journey. Whenever I meet someone new, I hear something along the lines of: “Wow, you’re the senior pastor?!” I can’t blame them for being shocked. I don’t fit the historical picture for the part. I look more like the young suburban mom who enjoys wearing red stilettos, not a senior pastor of a historic 110-year-old church.
In the North American evangelical church, the office of the senior pastor is primarily held by men. Consequently, I have never had the opportunity to watch a female senior pastor lead, and I have only known one. I’ve had the best mentors, influencers, teachers, and professors who have helped get me where I am today, but I’ve never seen a female senior pastor lead. So finding my footing in a world that I’ve never seen a woman lead feels like navigating uncharted territory.