Servant Christian Leader
Three years ago, at the age of 49, in the middle of a very messy life, I was asked a simple question by a dear friend – “Don’t you understand that you are a child of God?” That question softened my heart and turned my life around as a wave of love overcame my whole being. Ever since then, God has been ‘catching me up’ and it’s been an amazing, beautiful walk so far. Now I am pursuing the call to be a servant Christian leader for the Lord.
I’m Karen Soeffker, born and raised in the United Kingdom and have always been passionate about being ahead. As a child, I was the first to finish a book, first to finish papers, first to learn an instrument and even the first of anyone in our family or my parent’s family to be able to go to college. I was smart, got good grades and graduated from high school at the age of 18 with top marks. I was also crazy in love with a boy in Germany that I had met during an exchange program. So instead of going to college, I packed some clothes and my record collection and ran to him, ignoring my parent’s pleas and tears. Of course, I couldn’t speak German but luckily I was able to land a job on a nearby British Airforce Base, cleaning bathrooms and dorms a leg in my servant Christian leader journey.
One year later, my ‘relationship’ with this boy abruptly came to an end after I caught him with another girl. I couldn’t possibly go home to my parents, I was both stubborn and ashamed so I dug in my heels and got to work. I needed to catch up. As soon as my German was good enough, I moved into an office position at the base and soon had enough work experience to apply for an office job with a German company. My next position introduced me to mainframe computers and many late nights as an ‘operator’ changing tapes to update the system during evening shifts. There was lots of ‘waiting’ during tape changes so I taught myself to code, hoping that one day I could be writing programs to run businesses instead of just changing tapes.
Coding led to programming, which led to implementing software and consulting, and at the age of 40, I completed my 22nd year in Germany as a Director with a large software company.
I had a great job, I had an amazing life and married a wonderful man along the way – I was all caught up! Wasn’t I? I had no idea how far behind I still was. After being together for 8 years, my husband and I decided to get married, it was just the right time for both of us. That was a Civil Service Wedding in August and the following January we found out that we were pregnant – I was 40 and my husband 46!
I had always wanted children, but I always managed to find partners that didn’t, including my husband. We struggled through the first trimester, confused and dazed about this new situation and for the first time in a very long time, I got on my knees and begged God to let me keep both my husband and my baby. That same night my husband came to me in tears, we reconciled and our life as we knew it was to be changed forever. Our son is an incredible gift! I get to be his Mom every day and I thank my heavenly Father every day for the blessing of my son.
So, am I caught up yet? Of course not! One thing that my husband and I had in common from the beginning of our relationship was our love of everything American. We filled our apartment in Germany with all things stars and stripes and spent most of our vacation time in the USA. When I found out that I was expecting, I told my company that I would become a full-time mom and wanted to resign. They asked me if I could take the project that I was working on and help it go Global. I took a chance and told them that such a task could only be performed from the USA, not Germany. They asked me where I would like to go and before I knew it, we relocated to Austin, Texas with a 1-year-old! My husband became a stay-at-home dad at the age of 47 and I was blessed to be able to work from home. Perfect!
The next few years were full of wonder and ‘first times’ as parents, flying past at lightning speed. When our son turned 5, my husband and I decided to open a toy store, filled with wooden, battery-free, educational toys. It was a learning curve for sure and after 3 years we were burned out. Parenting, my full-time job and the stress of running our own business put a strain on our finances and our marriage. It felt like we were strangers sharing the same house and I was lost and felt as though I was losing everything. And that is where my friend found me and asked me the question that changed my life – “Do you not know that you are a child of God?” My friend is also a Christian Counselor, although I didn’t know that about him at the time.
In the last three years of my servant Christian leader journey, God has led us to a wonderful church, surrounded us with Spirit-filled pastors and friends, and we as a family have never been stronger. My husband and I renewed our vows under the cross in our church on our thirteenth anniversary. We have all been water baptized and our business is flourishing. Awesome, all caught up!! Er, no….
At the age of 52, I felt the call to move to a leadership position in the marketplace. Remember that I didn’t go to college? Well, THAT is catching up with me now. I originally searched for online business degrees, but when I found the Christian Leaders Institute, I was glued to the page for hours. I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me and remind me of leading small groups and mentoring both staff and church members and repeating my testimony to customers in the store. I realized that I wanted to be a servant Christian leader in my next position, leading individuals and teams to success in accordance with His will.
The ‘Getting Started’ class has already answered so many questions and helped me to understand that the yearning I feel is my God-given desire to be closer to Him. As a late starter, I am particularly excited to dive into the Bible, anxious to soak in His word.
My current job is our sole income and I really cannot afford to go to college. I also need to be able to study online, in between being a Mom, Wife, Business Owner, Employee, and friend.
My prayer: “Heavenly Father, help me to listen carefully and talk freely to you, help me to be more of the gift that you have created me to be and to be an expression of your love.”
I don’t ever want to have to catch up again on my servant Christian leader walk, I always want to be one step behind my heavenly Father who leads me with his love and wisdom. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Learn about ordained minister study programs at Christian Leaders Alliance.