Oct 12, 2012
I met Micha Boyett at a writing conference this past Spring after recently learning about her blog called Mama Monk that had been really taking off. In Micha I found someone who is deeply thoughtful, gentle, and aware of the challenges parents face with spirituality. If you’ve ever read Mama Monk, you already know that Micha has a powerful writing ministry that is touching so many. Today she writes about her ministry days before she took her “vows” as a blogger…
I stood on Mt. Princeton in 2005, overlooking the valley and the aspens that stretched out miles before me, and I sighed my surrender to God. I had just finished grad school, was newly married and moving soon to Philadelphia, my husband’s hometown. And I’d just traveled with 150 high school students on buses for two days, all the way from New York State to Colorado for camp.
I whispered, “God, I think I’m created for this work. Right here.” Nothing brought me more joy than ministry to middle and high school students. I gave myself to it.
I cried a lot my first year “in ministry.” It turned out that working for a parachurch mission meant devoting one-third of my time to fundraising. In my town, where most men were working in suits and most women were home with their kids, that meant helping to run a golf tournament for men twenty years my senior and asking for a big financial donation from an intimidating male executive over lunch. It meant constant discomfort in my skin.
I wasn’t good at developing volunteer leaders and having hard conversations with them about their choices and gifts. I wanted to avoid conflict at all costs and in doing so, I struggled to be more than a surface-level cheerleader for them. I was not good at managing my area’s finances. I was not good at not crying when faced with all the things I wasn’t good at.
But I was great at relationships. I was fairly good at speaking. And I was awesome at dressing up in spandex and dorky 80’s shorts and leading girls in the Best. Dance. Party. Of. All. Time.
Here’s the thing: I needed to be good at all of it, not simply the relational aspects of the job. But as a woman in a largely male-dominated mission, I struggled with separating my personal weaknesses from the anxiety I felt over my female brain.
I feared that I was bad at left-brained aspects of ministry because I was a woman. In truth, I was bad at it because I was Right-Brained-Micha. Relational connections and silliness and teaching came naturally to me. Administration didn’t.
What I needed was a woman in ministry, twenty years further down the road. I needed a woman to sit down with me and say: This is how to handle yourself in a fundraising setting when there are twenty fifty-year-old men and you. This is how to embrace conflict when you’re a good Southern girl who’s been raised to avoid it. This is how to encounter a room of male staff and release yourself from striving for their approval.
When I think of myself behind the desk staring at numbers or dealing with the male, ragamuffin leader, I think, Oh, I was so miserable in that job. But that’s not true. Half the time in ministry I was actually with people. And I was in love with my work.
I was at the high school volleyball game and driving kids home from the spring play. I was eating at Chili’s again with a table of freshmen girls who were trying to understand how to be Christ followers while living in families that did not support their newly found faith. I was singing to Taylor Swift on the radio with a suburban full of kids ten minutes after sharing with them the story of the cross, the story I believed could alter, was already altering, their lives forever.
Did I fail at ministry?
I find myself asking that question a lot. And then I think about the Bible study I helped lead at 6 am on Friday mornings while my baby ate breakfast at a friend’s house. How with paperback Bibles in our hands, I spoke to that room of sleepy freshmen and sophomores who opened the scripture while simultaneously trying not to fall asleep. And, rarely, I saw in their eyes a love for that passage. I saw in their faces a moment of recognition. They got it. They understood the power of a life marked by Christ.
I didn’t fail.
But I did quit.
Sometimes I think of the older woman who didn’t lead me, who didn’t exist for me, and I ache in fear that she’s just like me. I’m afraid she quit too.
Was I supposed to be That Woman for another girl who is just now hearing God’s deep call to the life of ministry? She is standing on the edge of the mountain and looking over the valley and saying: “Yes, God, I will give my life to this. Whatever the cost.”
I am praying for that girl. I’m praying that when the cost is administrative anxiety; when the cost is time away from her spouse or uncertainty about her kids; when the cost is fear of conflict: I’m praying she will be brave enough to find a woman to whisper that flourishing in ministry is possible. I’m praying she will persevere and be the woman who speaks hope to all the women who come after her.
About Today’s Guest Blogger
Micha Boyett (pronounced "MY-cah") is a youth minister turned stay at home mom trying to make sense of vocation and season and place in the midst of her third cross-country move in three years. A native Texan, she is mama to two blonde boys and wife to a very tall Philadelphian. She blogs at Patheos about motherhood, monasticism, and the sacred in the everyday. Follow her on Twitter at @michaboyett or find her on Facebook here.
About the Women in Ministry Series
The Women in Ministry Series is a collection of guest posts that aims to:
- Provide an alternative to the women in ministry debates by telling the stories of women in ministry.
- Encourage women to explore their God-given callings.
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Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome to leave a comment. However, this series takes for granted that women are called by God into every facet of ministry. This is not the place to debate that point and such comments will be removed.Women have been told “no” in far too many places. This is one place that is committed to saying “yes.” For more about the comment policy or submitting your own story, read here.
Next Week’s Blogger: Angie Mabry-Nauta