By Karen Hice Guzmán

Preparing for Ministry


At The Well, we have been eager to introduce you to Karen Guzmán, new National Director of Women in the Academy & Professions.  When Karen’s latest ministry update arrived in our mailboxes, we thought it would be an excellent way to introduce you to her and to ask you to be praying for her and the ministry of Women in the Academy & Professions (of which The Well is a part).

 

I recently read that Advent is sort of a spiritual “waiting room.” Advent and its Scripture readings are characterized by an attentive attitude, a posture of waiting.  I am not good at waiting, never have been — just ask my husband or close friends. If I purchase anything that needs assembly or setting up, I get to it the moment I get home. Nothing can stay in the box overnight. I don’t like to wait in lines at the store or in the carpool. So, as you can imagine, this season and its accompanying spiritual practices are not what I naturally gravitate toward.

Visitation of Mary by Rogier van der Weyden

Waiting often feels like wasting time. Just get there already! It’s hard for those of us who need to “do” something — we can’t prove ourselves and waiting doesn't help us feel useful. Waiting is also difficult because we are out of control; it forces us into dependence on someone else. Some of us lose hope when we have to wait very long.

Much of 2013 has been a time of waiting for me, first by waiting to see where God would lead as I sought to discern his call regarding work and ministry.  Once it was clear that the Lord was inviting me to direct InterVarsity’s Women in the Academy & Professions, I was ready to jump in. But instead, I have been called to more waiting. Forming a team for support and prayer around the ministry has been the primary place of my time investment and has moved along more slowly than I had expected.

This morning I read the following:

But a time of waiting is not just a period of mounting expectation, to be impatiently endured until the longed-for person or event arrives. It is an opportunity to set our sights on the promise, to hold fast to it, to consider its significance, to explore and fathom who and what it is that we are waiting for. The centuries that God's people spent watching and waiting in the Old Testament, longing and hoping for the day of redemption, are mirrored and even relived in our own interior waiting in the season of Advent. This waiting is not a passive whiling away of the days and hours, but a time when our appetites are whet, when our eagerness is honed to fine-edged anticipation, when we stand on tiptoe to catch the first glimpse of his coming. — Jeanne Kun, Readings & Prayers for Advent

What might God have for me in this waiting? A few things come to mind:

  • Waiting has tutored me in the acts of trusting and hoping which actually depend on waiting to develop. Perhaps there are things in my character that need refining before I will be "fit for service." Waiting gives me time to think, pray, and reflect — things that this "do-er" needs to focus on more often.
  • Waiting has led me into multiple conversations and a lot of reading which have fueled growth in my conviction about the critical need and value of this work and a vision for what we can accomplish.
  • Waiting has strengthened my conviction that I need multiple networks and numerous partnerships to see this vision for ministry among women in the university and beyond realized. In fact, I have come to see how developing these relationships is a crucial part of the work. I am excited about the Advisory Council that is forming here in Atlanta. Five women have committed to serving with me as a learning community, to assist with funding and to give shape to the vision and strategy for ministry. In addition, I have had the privilege to meet a number of women who are excited about what we long to do and who have an interest in being a part of it. A significant foundation is being laid which will serve as an important support for the work when it launches fully.
  • Waiting has offered me the opportunity to depend on God and his people in deeper ways. Because of this, I am more confident than ever that "in the fullness of time" God will provide the resources that are needed so that I will be enabled to do the work he is calling me to.
  • Waiting has given me time to be grateful. So many have said encouraging words, prayed for me, and given financially — and I am grateful. I am also thankful for wonderful people to work with — my colleagues at The Well continue to provide this outstanding resource to support and encourage women in their callings. Readership has steadily increased this fall. Here is just one email we received recently from a reader:

    "I’ve loved coming to the website to read about women walking in similar paths as me. (I’ve also loved how poetic and reflective many of the entries are. I am neither!) Indeed, sometimes it feels like the only community I have that “gets” me and the dozens of directions I am constantly pulled in."

So what’s next?

Lord willing, I will have sufficient funding in January to begin working part-time as Director of Women in the Academy & Professions. I’ll begin to work regularly with my team and interact with colleagues around the country. The Atlanta Advisory Council will continue to meet and will begin work on a large event we hope to host in 2014.  I’ll continue to meet with people around the country to strengthen our partnership base and will begin work on developing a two-year strategic initiatives plan.

How can you help?

  • Please pray for Women in the Academy & Professions. Ask God to provide the funding we need to do this work and pray for my team as we learn to listen to God and work together.
  • Some of you may be interested in supporting this work financially, either through a one-time gift or with on-going monthly support. If you would like to be in contact with Karen about joining her ministry partnership team, you can contact her here. To give online to the ministry of Women in the Academy & Professions, click here.
  • Pray for me as I head to InterVarsity’s National Staff Conference in St. Louis (January 7 -11, 2014). I will have a number of responsibilities including coordinating a seminar for my colleagues around the challenges women face in the university and professions as they seek to faithfully live out their calling as "world changers."

Thank you for waiting expectantly and hopefully with me during this time. I pray for a rich and meaningful Advent and a wonderful celebration of Christmas for you all! 

Karen with her family.

About the Author

Karen is the National Director of InterVarsity's Women in the Academy and Professions, and lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three boys. Except for some years taken off to raise her sons, she has spent her adult life in and around InterVarsity — originally as a student and campus staff member in Michigan and currently in Atlanta. An entrepreneur at heart, she and some student leaders started the grad fellowship at Michigan State and the MBA fellowship at Georgia Tech. She loves to use her gifts of hospitality and teaching to create a welcoming place for people to connect with God and with each other. Although she rarely has time for it, you can find Karen at her sewing machine when ministry progress gets hard to measure and she needs to see tangible results from her efforts. She loves dark chocolate, good coffee, and British television.

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