Bekah Kidd, Shepherd Community Center’s chief program officer, says she has grown a lot – professionally, personally, and spiritually – after serving in urban ministry for more than a decade. Here she shares what she’s learned along the way and what advice she has for others considering a life in ministry.
Question: What originally attracted you to serving in the ministry at Shepherd? How long have you been in your current role?
Bekah Kidd: After college I was looking to serve at an urban ministry. I had a friend who came to work here after we graduated, and he spoke very highly of the work. I was living at home and not working in urban ministry, so one day he called me and talked with me for a couple of hours about all that Shepherd does. I loved the opportunities and experiences that would be open to me. The approach Shepherd takes in ministry, serving the whole family and supporting the whole person, was really important to me. I have been at Shepherd 10 and a half years and in my current role for a year and a half.
Question: What are a couple of key lessons you’ve learned during your time at Shepherd?
Kidd: You can’t do ministry well if you aren’t actively growing yourself. I learned early on that I needed to be intentional with my own growth and development to be a better co-worker, leader, or neighbor. Stagnation is the enemy of doing anything well, the world around us is always changing and if we aren’t willing to grow and shift, we soon become obsolete. Growth means looking to improve or solidify who you are, what you are doing, and why you are doing it.
Patience is key. Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I was very acquainted with the “messy” side of ministry. But once I started doing the actual work of ministry for myself, I really started to experience what long-haul ministry looks like. Having the patience to work with the same disruptive student day in and day out, showing up consistently, and giving the time and energy needed for them to make little steps forward is exhausting. But what a celebration when they see their progress too!
Question: How have you grown as a person and how has your faith grown while serving at Shepherd?
Kidd: I don’t think your article is long enough for me to answer this fully!
I was pretty green and immature when I first came here. But I was really excited to be stepping into the ministry I felt I was called to. Especially in those early years, I spent a lot of time learning from the experts who had been here longer than me and had a lot of experience. I really understood the importance of sitting with those who are wiser than you and learning from their experience. I learned to ask specific questions that allowed me to try new things and to improve what I was doing. I started to mature and take very seriously my role. I did a lot of growing up and coming into my own in those first few years. I am the employee I am today because of those early lessons; their hours of pouring into me and investing in my potential set a foundation for me. I stand on that foundation now as I continue to grow. I have had a lot of opportunities to learn and the space to grow. I am now older, more sure of myself, and more mature (most of the time!) than the first day I walked into Shepherd to start my fellowship.
My faith has gone through the same process. I am deeply aware each day that I cannot do this work with Jesus. I cannot fully help a neighbor, mentor a student, or work through difficult situations without my faith in Jesus. I very much see my work as an act of worship. While on paper I report to man, I am really working only for God. This has motivated me to do things with excellence (not perfection), because ultimately I am answering to God about it. My faith had to become very, very tangible. I had to go through some really dark places before I learned to move my faith from feeling or circumstance based and into a tangible choice. I see God working every day in so many ways. I could never do this life, let alone this ministry, without the Holy Spirit in me. I am so grateful for Him!
Question: Ministry often can be mentally, spiritually, and physically draining. How do you maintain a healthy balance in your life so that you can sustain your work in the ministry?
Kidd: I am definitely not perfect at this. I often find myself “over-drained” and not properly filled back up. When I sense that happening, I try to take note early on and make a course correction. I have spent a lot of time learning myself, to understand what my warning signs are so that I can respond appropriately. For example, when I get stressed, I tend to shut off from everyone and everything. But as I’ve learned myself, I find it’s often more important in those situations to tune into the right people and the right things instead. Being physically tired, but spiritually, relationally, and emotionally restored is a very typical occurrence. I prioritize staying engaged at my church. Not just attending Sunday service, but volunteering, going to small groups, going to mid-week or Saturday services. Being engaged with the body of believers is life-giving. I also make sure I pursue the things I am passionate about or enjoy doing. Even if I only have a couple hours, I want to maximize that time to enrich my spirit and mind most of the time. Sometimes what I need is to rest completely, and in those cases, I make sure to put the phone on do not disturb and do low-energy things like watching TV or movies.
Question: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? What’s the most challenging?
Kidd: The reward and the challenge are all wrapped into one. Every day, in the work we do, unique issues arise. That could be a neighbor in crisis, programmatic issues, staffing challenges, or something completely random! But when the team comes together, solutions are found, and a neighbor is supported, it is a beautiful thing to be a part of!
Question: What can you tell us about yourself? Any hobbies? Favorite pastimes?
Kidd: I love to bake, although I tend not to do it as much as I would like. I enjoy reading and researching. I have several topics I’m quite passionate about, so I am always reading books or listening to podcasts about those topics, probably drinking a cup of coffee at the same time. I do things like paint or color; I find that relaxing. When I’m looking to just shut my brain off, I tend to turn to movies or shows I know well and love. Usually “Star Trek”!
Question: What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about serving at Shepherd, either as a volunteer or on staff?
Kidd: Be ready to jump in. The best experience is when you are ready to jump in, try things, and learn. Go beyond the surface experience, dive deep. No matter how you are involved at Shepherd, approach the work with humility and a desire to learn from all the volunteers, staff, and neighbors around you. This is when the best is experienced.