How Stories Help Us Do Impossible Things

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Some people are talented at making money. I, on the other hand, have the unique talent of choosing highly specialized professions that don’t make any money.

When I started attending seminary, the typical conversation with my family was something like, “How will you avoid becoming a beggar on the street?” OK, it wasn’t quite like that, but way too many conversations had those overtones.

Thankfully, I had plenty of pastors to look up to over the years. They seemed like reasonably well-adjusted individuals with normal lives. It wasn’t until I started working in a church and saw pastoral ministry up close that I realized it wasn’t for me.

I kept my misgivings to myself and my wife, not wanting the “beggar on the street” conversation to further evolve. As I searched for a new path forward, I realized that the obvious answer was writing full time. This did very little to assuage the concerns of my family.

When I started to pursue writing as a serious profession, I didn’t know any writers personally. How does one go about making a living as a writer? I could handle the part where I pounded out 5,000 words in a day, but the part where a paycheck ended up in my bank account eluded me. I had never seen the life of a writer up close and personal, and I had no idea how to go about pursuing my calling.

Enter writing blogs, books, and magazines. For years I inhaled Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and a bunch of writing blogs and books. These stories of professional writers became my lifeline. When people wondered how I could ever make it as a writer, I received support and encouragement from the stories of writers who kept up the struggle and dreamed up creative ways to make a living.

Without those stories, I would have given up on my calling a long time ago. If I didn’t know that there were other crazy people like me who loved to write and didn’t mind the spare pay checks, I would have been forced to settle for a soul-crushing job that didn’t tie into my passions.

Without stories, it’s hard to know if we’re on the right path. We need to know that other people have faced similar circumstances and have kept up the fight. We need to know that it’s worth the struggle.

As I’ve thought about the importance of the Women in Ministry Series that will be launched this Friday, the value of stories have been at the forefront of my mind. Women who feel called to ministry need to read stories about those who have blazed the path ahead of them. Women who have been told “no” all of their lives need to read stories that tell them “yes.”

Perhaps the most difficult part of this process has been contacting some very talented storytellers about contributing, only for them to reply that they don’t have any stories to share about women ministering in their lives. It never occurred to me that there are women who simply haven’t seen a God-empowered female ministering as either a pastor or a lay minister in the church.

That left me wondering how many women are struggling with a nudge from God that they simply can’t process. Are there women who sense a call into ministry, but they can’t sort it out because they’ve never seen it modeled for them?

As I think and pray over all that this series of stories about women in ministry can be, I hope that it will become a lifeline to women who need models. I hope that readers can share links with those who need encouragement and a few examples of what it’s like for God to work through women in the church.

And then, when a well-meaning relative asks a young woman, who is planning to go into ministry, how she will eat or find a place to live, she can smile and know that she has a treasure trove of stories assuring her that God will show her a path forward.

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4 thoughts on “How Stories Help Us Do Impossible Things

  1. Joy @ Joy In This Journey

    “how many women are struggling with a nudge from God that they simply can’t process. Are there women who sense a call into ministry, but they can’t sort it out because they’ve never seen it modeled for them? ”

    YES. That is me to a T. (Though I am fortunate to have connected with a female pastor over the past couple of years, but she lives in another state, so we only have email and phone contact.)

    1. ed Post author

      Gosh, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for women who feel led to serve in a ministry. It’s a tough road through many obstacles. I’m glad you found someone to talk alongside you.

  2. Christiana

    My first academic article was about women as lay ministers in the Anne of Green Gables books. Though they’re a hundred years old, those stories were so important for me in seeing the roles women could play that I wanted to honor that. I love this idea for a blog series.

    1. ed Post author

      Which book has the women lay ministers? I’ve read the first book, but my memory may be a tad fuzzy. I’m glad you’re following the blog series!

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