For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

I was the Executive Pastor at a local church for 5 years. I was grateful; I knew this was not something easily attained in certain sects of the body of Christ. Looking back, there were some healthy aspects of being a woman in church leadership and some very unhealthy aspects. The environment I was in became toxic for my family and me. So, after much prayer and counsel, I left the position and the church.  

I desperately missed shepherding people and realized the title and position I held mattered more to me than I thought. The title gave me permission to exist and operate in the calling on my life. The responsibilities of Executive Pastor allowed me to use my gifts and talents. I was seeing people’s lives transformed. Around the same time, I also left my position as Assistant Director of Data Center Services at NYU. I found myself faced with an identity crisis. Who was I? Was a title and the approval of man really to be the source of my self-worth? It was during this season that I learned so much about myself and my God.  

I had no title … in church ministry or leadership position at work. In this “in-between season,” two separate friends spoke prophetically within a matter of days of each other. The essence of both: “you are a pastor and you are to pastor wherever you are.”

I began to meditate on Ephesians 2:10. I was created for good works, prepared before the foundation of the world. I reflected on my authentic self — what gifts and talents showed up wherever I showed up. Every place in my life — home, work, church pew, in all my relationships — I was a shepherd and teacher. Without effort, the gift of God showed up whenever I was free to be me.  

In the “in between season,” I was a shepherd and teacher to everyone who would allow me to be — my adult children, people I attended church with, friends, family, and colleagues. I became comfortable in my skin and accepted that I might never be a pastor in a congregation again. It did not matter. God had called me “pastor” and I would walk in it every day of my life. It was the decision to accept His anointing on my life whether man endorsed me or not that gave me the power to be me. It was a few short years after that I found myself standing on the stage at my church being installed as an Associate Pastor and Elder. I did not long for it, position myself, or jockey for it. The gift made room for me.  Title or no title, I am having the time of my life!

~Rev. Annette Cutino


REV. ANNETTE CUTINO serves as the Director of Advance at Lead.NYC – the NYC arm of where she oversees Advance Leadership Intensive, a training program for ministry and non-profit leaders. She is passionate about encouraging individuals to develop to their fullest potential. Rev. Annette is currently an Elder and Associate Pastor at Harvest Fields Community Church. She loves preaching and teaching the Bible and facilitating workshops. She received her Bachelor of Biblical Studies from AMES Christian University. Pastor Annette resides in the Bronx, loves NYC, and is the proud mother of three millennials.