I was asked by one of my classes in seminary to interview a husband and wife in the ministry. They were supposed to be outstanding in leadership and reflective of Jesus’ character in both their ministry and family. So I chose our Campus Pastors, Pastors Eriberto and Griselda Govea. I hope you enjoy learning from their example as they follow Jesus!
The Govea’s, Servant Leaders
I chose Pastoral Elders Eriberto and Griselda Govea because they are my heroes. Literally. From the time I was in Bible College studying urban ministry and church planting I was always deeply impacted by churches and organizations that had qualified volunteer staff. These volunteer staff members were the backbone and foundation of the ministry even though they did not get the same attention, pay, or accolades of the senior leadership. However, behind the scenes their labor, dedication, and talents were monumental to the places they served.
The Govea’s are a volunteer staff couple in the church I pastor, Metro Praise International. They both came to the Lord in the church roughly 7 years ago and shortly afterwards went to Bible college, got married, had a son, and graduated with a B.A. in Biblical Studies. When they were given the opportunity to either work voluntarily in the church or be sent out to find a paying ministry job; they chose to stay and find secular jobs so they could serve unpaid in the church. They have literally worked in every area of the church from the youth ministry, nursery, transportation, administration, and so on. Also, they have been in the spotlight during Sunday services by doing the announcements, preaching, and praying at the altars. Plus, they have served just as passionately behind the scenes greeting, collecting/counting offerings, and doing routine maintenance on the building.
Currently, they are our church’s Campus Pastors. Which means they are directly over everything that the church does. In some churches they would be called the “Assistant Pastors,” but we felt “Campus Pastor” suited their calling much better because they oversee all the day-to-day operations of the campus. They do all the marriage and problem solving counseling together (I am only asked to be involved if they feel they need my assistance), Pastor Eriberto is my personal assistant on Sundays and Pastor Griselda is the church’s administrator. The most outstanding part of their leadership is that though they carry huge amounts of authority and responsibility they are probably the most dependable, kind, and down to earth Christians you will ever meet. They have a wonderful marriage and a beautiful family with their spirited two-year-old named Evan that balances their life perfectly. Together I believe they fully embody the heart of what Jesus said in Matthew 23:11, “The greatest among you will be your servant.”
Balancing Their Busy Lives
Certainly, the Govea’s have to work hard together at balancing their ministry lives and family with their outside jobs. But you would never know much they do because they don’t complain, compare, or compromise. First, consider that they are both Bible College trained leaders that have given the office of Pastoral Elder in our church (I also included in this paper a defense of women pastors/elders). Therefore, they probably each give around 20hrs to the church a week in service. Second, they both work fulltime jobs (35+ hours) to provide for their family. Lastly, and most importantly, they are married and have a Pre-K son that deserves all their attention. Wow! Can you now see why they’re my heroes?
In my separate interviews with them I could see that the reason for their success in all the main areas of their life (family, job, & ministry) comes from their strong dedication to God. For example, Eriberto will try to start each day on his knees praying and then will dedicate his half hour commute to work to prayer and intimacy with God. There in his car he will practice the presence of God and be filled to overflowing with God’s love and wisdom. Griselda, will take the morning times to be with her son because she doesn’t start work until around 4pm after Eriberto gets off. So she will spend time with her son teaching him the Bible, singing songs to Jesus, and saying short prayers with him (along with teaching him basic learning skills).
Since Griselda works in the evenings and Eriberto works days they have to schedule their daily family time together in the morning around the breakfast table. It is during this time that Eriberto will operate in his spiritual gifts to build up his family; in other words his family is his “home church!” He purposefully and patiently opens up his heart to God while being with his family so he can clearly hear what His heavenly Father is wanting to share with His family each day. Sometimes, he will encourage his wife by speaking words from the Scripture. Other times he will ask his son about what he is learning from his mother and the church and then he will reinforce the lessons in his own words.
Outside of their day-to-day schedule Eriberto will look for good opportunities to make more time to privately study and spend extended times in God’s presence. This can be done after work when Griselda’s family babysits his son. Then during his alone time, which can happen a few times a week, he will pull out his guitar and sing songs to God like David did in the fields. Eriberto will take time to memorize the Bible and mediate on it so he will be a useful vessel for the Lord to pour out to others in correcting, rebuking, encouraging, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Plus, he will be ready to once again lead his family when they come together in the mornings.
Ministry for the Govea’s is an overflow from their personal walk with God and each other. When they do one-on-one discipleship with members of the church their experience with God over the years and their transparency set a tremendous example for others to follow. If you were to ask the disciples taught by the Govea’s what they learn from their times together more than likely they will mention their humility and deep love for God. I have often had other members of the church pull me aside and testify to how much the Govea’s example and teachings have meant to them.
Sometimes they have challenging meetings with people when they do marriage or problem solving counseling, but they still bring a love from God into those meetings that melts even the hardest of hearts. As their pastor I am always honored to serve with them because their graceful attitude rubs off on me and motivates me to truly desire to see the best in God’s people. Once a couple had to meet with them so the husband could confess that he had cheated on his wife. The Govea’s reported that after the confession they helped the wife forgive her cheating spouse and then they both received healing from the past. Praise God!
In summary, the Govea’s represent what is best about discipleship and following Jesus. Their lives had been changed and now together they are objects of God’s change in other people’s lives. When asked how they would define leadership they both responded with words like, “faithfulness, dedication, humility, integrity, accountability, and training.” They actually were describing exactly how I see them. They didn’t choose superficial things like, “good speaking ability, likeability, impressive numbers of people following, or the like,” instead they described what they saw in Jesus that changed their lives.
I have had the chance to meet many well known leaders in the church over the years and even some successful businessmen, however, I am more impressed with the Govea’s as a couple because they whole heartedly do what Jesus did. Jesus left His glorious heavenly home, took on flesh, and lived the life of a servant. He said in Matthew 20:28, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” My prayer is that every disciple would follow the servanthood example of the Govea’s as they follow Jesus!
Women in the Ministry
At this point I would like to share the reasons I believe allowing women to be both pastors and elders is biblical. Why? Because the assignment only asked that I would direct ministerial questions to the man, assuming that the wife would not be considered a equal in ministry or in position. As a church planter with almost 18 years of experience and an earned M.A. in Biblical Education, I felt it my obligation to offer a better way. As a result, our church doesn’t withhold the office of elder or deacon from women because we believe that women are able to lead in the church according to Scripture. We see that women in the New Testament were given the same baptism of the Holy Spirit, the five-fold ministry gifts, and were used in the offices. In light of this I would suggest all churches to recognize this biblical truth and appoint women into the offices of elders and deacons.
Here are some verses that show the equality of men and women in the ministry. Acts 2:17-18, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy… Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” Acts 18:24-26, “Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately… When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” Romans 16:1 (NLT), “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea.” Acts 16:7, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”
Since I know that the women in ministry issue is debated in many churches and denominations, I will now present my best case for their right to the offices and let the reader make the final decision. Here are the basic premises and conclusion summarized: (1) Women have the same salvation as men according to Galatians 3:28. (2) Women have the same Holy Spirit baptism as men according to Acts 2:18. (3) Women have the same spiritual gifts as men according to 1 Corinthians 12:28. (4) Therefore, women must have the same offices as men according to Romans 16:1,7.
Now note the premises with their detailed explanations and conclusion: (1) Women have the same salvation as men according to Galatians 3:28. (a) The verse states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (b) Thus, it is clear that women have the same salvation as men.
(2) Women have the same Holy Spirit baptism as men according to Acts 2:18. (a) The verse states, “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (b) Thus, it is clear that women have the same Spirit baptism and the same gift to “prophesy.”
(3) Women have the same spiritual gifts as men according to 1 Corinthians 12:28. (a) The verse states, “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.” (b) Since the “gifts of administration” (a role that all women are allowed to serve in within the church) are given without gender restriction the “ministry gifts ” of apostles, prophets, and teachers should likewise be given to all women without gender restriction. (c) Therefore, with both Acts 2:18b (“… they shall prophesy”) and 1 Cor. 12:28, it is clear there is no gender distinction in spiritual gifts.
(4) Therefore, women should have the same offices as men according to Romans 16:1,7. (a) Romans 16:1,7 prove that Paul appointed women in leadership roles. The verses state, v. 1 “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant (deacon) of the church in Cenchrea… ” & v. 7, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” (b) This is the debated issue. However, if the above premises are correct, then the conclusion is true regardless of how one feels about it. (c) The main issues brought by the opposing side come from the gender restrictions found elsewhere in the Bible, mainly 1 Timothy 2:11-12 & 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
(d) However, in these restrictions the opposing side is not consistent, for other issues are brought up as well that are not taken literally in most of the opposing side’s churches like the following: (i) No braided hair, 1 Tim. 2:9; (ii) Women are not allowed to talk at all in church, 1 Tim. 2:11; and lastly, (iii) Women are said to be saved specifically by the good work of childbearing, 1 Tim. 2:15.
(e) Therefore, both sides have to draw practical applications and conclusions within the biblical culture and other passages to justify and comply with the very awkward commands of Paul to Timothy and the Corinthians in determining how these relate to the modern woman. For those of us who have determined that women are in fact intended by God to hold an equal role with men in the ministry, the above restrictions are viewed as pertaining to a specific culture, people, and time rather than being enduring universal teachings. This conclusion is validated by the Bible’s documentation of godly women speaking and leading men at various times and locations.
(f) In conclusion, Douglas Moo, in his commentary on Romans, conceded that Phoebe according to the Greek and the context is most assuredly a Deacon, an official position of leadership in the church. Plus, Eldon Epp in his book, Junia the First Women Apostle, sites that both he and renowned scholar Richard Bauckham can prove vigorously from the Greek and the context that Junia was indeed a female apostle while Daniel Wallace and other dissenters have “serious defects” in their methodology to prove otherwise.
I hope the previous section brought clarity to the issue and will set at liberty all the women in the church to freely operate in their spiritual gifts within the biblical offices of elder and deacon. For it is this reason that Griselda can be a tremendous blessing to the church along with her husband!
 Moo, Douglas J. Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2002. 209.
 Epp, Eldon Jay. Junia: The First Woman Apostle. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005. Kindle location, 953.