Archives For Jennie Barber


Jennie Barber —  May 8, 2014


Pop quiz: what does the above acronym stand for? Jump Or Yell? Just Out Yesterday? Jerry Owns Yaks? As a teenager, I was taught this acronym meant: Jesus Others You. J.O.Y. was presented to me as a tool for living a joyful life. You simply had to put Jesus first, others second, and you third. Rather than helping me find joy, this tool led me to sharply scrutinize my every action, giving birth to self-criticism. Did this particular decision put Jesus first? Was my specific choice putting others before me? After struggling to find joy with J.O.Y., I left it behind, not giving it another thought.

For some reason, J.O.Y. floated to the surface of my consciousness as I started to reflect on what brings me joy as a pastor. Moments and experiences in ministry that bring me joy are rooted in Jesus, others, and me. I discovered J.O.Y. isn’t a tool to establish a hierarchy of priorities for joyful living. For me, it points to the key elements that mark true joy in my life and ministry.

As I think about what brings me joy in ministry, I celebrate J.O.Y. in the following: Continue Reading…


Jennie Barber —  April 17, 2014

JBarberThey flood the shelves of your local supermarket this time of year in all their fluorescent, sugary glory. You can throw them in the microwave and impress kids with your party tricks. But what do Peeps marshmallow chicks (and bunnies) have to do with Holy Week? The truth—absolutely nothing.

Every time I see Peeps I’m reminded of one of my dear friends from seminary. I picture the two of us posing for a photograph, bright blue Peeps in our mouths. She’s excited to eat hers momentarily; I’m ready to spit mine out ASAP. And as I think about my friend, I think about our small group. Every week we would gather, to pray, to laugh, to cry, to encounter scripture through meditation rather than exegesis, and to reflect on the work of God in our lives. Much has happened to each one of us since our days as seminarians—cross-country moves, new relationships, family struggles. But wherever and however God leads us, I know these women are my people. At the risk of being cheesy, I guess you could say they are my “peeps”.

Today is Maundy Thursday. This day of Holy Week on which we remember Jesus’ celebration of the Passover with his disciples finds me thinking about those in my life who have been my “dear companions” (John 13:1 The Message). Truthfully, I’ve often glossed over Maundy Thursday, relegating it to the second runner up position in terms of “important” days in Holy Week. I’ve missed out on something significant. Jesus spends some of his last time on earth with his dear companions, those he calls friends (John 15:15). Before he faces trial and crucifixion, Jesus sits at the table with his people. Community is part of the narrative that leads to the cross and the resurrection. And the community we read about on Maundy Thursday isn’t shiny and perfect. This group sitting around the table with Jesus is full of people who make mistakes, argue, say the wrong thing, and get confused (over and over). Jesus doesn’t avoid this broken community. He washes their feet and breaks bread with them. Continue Reading…

JBarberLuke Skywalker and Obi-Wan. Harry Potter and Dumbledore. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. Frodo and Gandalf. These aren’t just some of the great pairs of literature and film. Each one represents a mentoring relationship. Inexperienced and eager novices receive wisdom and counsel from those who have walked the road before them. Opportunities for growth occur as the rookies listen and learn. The emerging identities of the beginners are shaped by the mentoring relationships they possess.

Those of us who contribute to this blog have significant ministry experience under our belts. But, speaking only for myself, I can say that I still have a lot to learn. I know I am only at the beginning of this journey called pastoral ministry. When I’ve stumbled, been confused, or lost the road entirely, I’ve turned to those who’ve walked the road before me. They aren’t self-proclaimed experts, but fellow pilgrims on the journey. Here’s why I believe mentors are vital in helping us to navigate our calling as pastors.

1. They ask questions that weren’t even on your radar: In the midst of a challenging decision or situation, questions swirl around my mind. I make every effort to answer them, but often end up feeling more confused than resolved. Countless times I’ve brought my muddled heart and mind to a mentor. With great gentleness, they’ve helped me to see that I’m muddled because I’ve been wrestling with questions that may actually be irrelevant. My questions weren’t dismissed as “wrong” or “foolish” but reframed to help me gain understanding.

2. They take you out of the tunnel: It’s easy to develop limited perspectives in pastoral ministry. We get so caught up in routines and our vision gets stifled. Mentors break into the tunnels we don’t even know we’re stuck in and invite us to see and experience what’s out there. So often I’ve thought, “This is the only way or path” and a mentor has helped me see that such thinking only keeps me walking through life and ministry with blinders. Continue Reading…