At Novo, we sometimes describe what we do as being “fire-starters,” multiplying our impact by equipping and empowering others. Fire-starters serve a role in this multiplication by providing an initial spark, but the impact of what we invest in one person doesn’t end there; it multiplies to impact many others. This story about helping leaders define their calling demonstrates the power of being a fire-starter, and the Kingdom impact that results...
One Person Invests...
Jenny’s life was split into two parts vocationally. She was a college mathematics professor, and an ordained pastor. She’d moved to a new city and invested a lot of herself into a new church, but eventually found herself on the outside, relegated to administrative tasks. “It was a really dark season,” she said. “In the middle of that I came across Sam Metcalf’s book, Beyond the Local Church, and found myself described throughout. I had never had language before for being an apostolic person—a sent one. I realized Sam’s organization was close by. I wanted to see what it would be like to be part of a tribe of people who also have that drive as ‘sent ones.’”
Through a chain of events Jenny connected with Nick, a member of the Novo Mobilization Team. As he heard bits of Jenny’s story, he invited her into a unique process of self-discovery and exploring God’s purposes for her called Coaching on Calling. It was a 10 week series of coaching calls with specific assignments, readings, and reflection exercises in between. “Nick told me that whether it resulted in me becoming part of Novo or not, he wanted to offer it as something that would be a blessing to me no matter what.”
Jenny decided to go for it. In the first week she had to create a timeline of her life, reflecting on what God was showing her about what he’d built into her throughout her life. It then turned from looking at the past to the present, examining spiritual gifts and biblical identity and purpose, and finally looked to the future, identifying core values and personal calling.
“For me, the assignments in between sessions became rich times with God,” Jenny reflected. “All through the 10 weeks, I took each assignment as a retreat time with God. I would bring the assignment into my prayer room and sit with God. It wasn’t just homework, but was God and I doing it together.”
What resulted was the launching of a ministry that was already on her heart.
“I often see a leadership gifting in people that’s not recognized by those around them,” Jenny shared. “There are unseen leaders who don’t get encouragement and support, but they have an apostolic gifting. My vision is to start an encouraging, supportive, and equipping organization, to help those leaders actually launch and go forward with what God’s inviting them into.”
Jenny had been carrying this vision for awhile, but there was always a level of uncertainty and fear. “Before going through Coaching on Calling I struggled to communicate exactly what the vision was,” she shared. “I felt like no one would take it seriously, or I was just fooling myself to think that I could actually start such a thing. The coaching from Nick and the times seeking God resulted in the vision becoming solid and real in a way where this ministry could actually come to be.”
The Investment Expands...
As Jenny moved forward with her vision from God to encourage and launch unseen leaders, she began to coach others through the same Coaching on Calling process. One of the leaders God highlighted to her was Kari.
Kari had been called to ministry as a young adult. The first time she encountered a female pastor, she immediately felt confirmation from the Holy Spirit that this was what she was supposed to do. “It was as clear as clear to me,” she said. “I was going to be a pastor.” After finishing college she immediately stepped into an assistant pastor role. “It was a very good ministry setting for me, very empowering.” After six years, she and her husband moved across the country so she could attend seminary.
Three years into her MDiv program, the unthinkable happened: Kari and her husband were in a car accident, and Kari broke her neck.
Despite her new limitations as a quadriplegic, Kari continued to work as a pastor in her local church and completed her MDiv. But things were very different—and not just physically.
“On many occasions she felt left out and marginalized,” Jenny shared. This went on for years.
“I was feeling really invisible, unseen, and in a dark place,” Kari said. “There were times when I saw people in the church making intentional efforts to include me, but at other times I felt very unvalued.”
The church Kari served was going through various struggles of its own, and eventually decided to shut its doors. It was a very hard season.
It was around that time that Jenny began talking to Kari about going through Coaching on Calling. As Jenny described the process in more detail, Kari felt it was exactly what she needed. “I felt like I’d lost myself,” Kari said. “What was I supposed to be doing? Was I supposed to be a pastor? Was I supposed to be a youth pastor? A pastoral counselor? A women’s pastor? I really felt like I was at this crisis point of not having any clue what my calling was.”
“Coaching on Calling has been amazingly beneficial to me,” Kari shared. “It really helped tune my ears and my heart in to where God was speaking. And every session has somehow applied to exactly where I am in those couple of weeks. It’s been amazing. I love God’s timing in it all. I’m in such a new season, and I feel like Coaching on Calling is kind of guiding me toward that.”
As Jenny reflected on what it’s been like to walk alongside Kari—one of those unseen leaders she feels called to encourage—she was filled with joy: “I’m seeing her ministry calling coming back up from how it was pushed down. The first week she described to me some of the devastation, and I pictured how it’s like she’s been in a battlefield for so long. But God’s been bringing her gifting and her calling back up, and I’m seeing resurrection in her life!”
“I’m passionate about the next generation!” Jenny exclaimed. “Nick impacted me, I’m impacting Kari. What’s it going to look like for Kari, in all the fullness of God’s call on her life, to be able to impact other people? And it will just continue on from there!”
What About You?
Do you resonate with Jenny’s story of recognizing she was a “sent one”? The Mobilization Team would love to have a conversation about what God might be doing in your life. You can contact them here.
Jenny Switkes lives in Anaheim, CA. She’s an affiliate staff with Novo’s mobilization team, a professor of mathematics at Cal Poly Pomona University, and an associate pastor at Orange Coast Free Methodist church in Costa Mesa. Jenny is passionate about missions, especially missions in Uganda. Jenny is launching Enhearten within Novo, which exists to see unseen leaders from among the poor, women, and people of color—and their allies—rising up and fully living out God’s apostolic calling on their lives.
Kari Guzman and her husband Aaron live in Riverside, CA, with their daughter Grace. Kari has been in pastoral ministry for 23 years and completed an MDiv from Azusa Pacific University in 2007. She’s currently a volunteer pastor at California Avenue Christian Fellowship, and Aaron teaches music at a public school.
The Novo Mobilization Team works to find, develop and launch leaders God is calling to share the good news of Jesus with people everywhere. We coach leaders through seasons of transition, discernment, and discovery—empowering them to listen well to Jesus, clarify all he is calling them into, and take the first bold step in response.