Nov 30, 2012
I started the Women in Ministry Series in January 2012 as an alternative to the endless debates about women being called to full time pastoral ministry and as church leaders. Rather than debate texts that have been explored ad nauseam in theological books, I wanted to share the stories of women in ministry so that both sides of the debate can put a face to the people living these stories.
If I can make one thing clear, I’m not giving women a voice. They already have their voices and are using them well. I’m just trying to gather them together in one place in order to make them a little easier to find.
Here are some of my personal favorites mixed in with some of the most popular posts in the series. If you want to browse all of the posts, click browse by topic in the navigation bar. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out the blog of each contributor!
In my first preaching class at seminary, I prayed that I would suck. I did. I prayed that God would relent, that it would be manifestly obvious that this was NOT God’s gifting. Then I would be free to return to my regularly scheduled life – a life that did not include rocking the boat. I didn’t have a radical agenda. I wasn’t looking to prove anything. That’s not quite true. I was looking to prove that I didn’t have a radical agenda.
The truth is, the women who ministered to my own wanting soul weren’t “women in ministry” at all. They were good neighbors and generous friends. They were soccer-Moms who took my babies off my hands for a few hours at a time, when I most needed help. They were steaming coffee dates where no subject was off limits, where laughter flowed freely and tears of anguish were met with tears of empathy.
She exhaled, shook her head diagonally, and continued, her words dripping with sympathy, “Believe me. The Board had a difficult time with your application. It felt like those men argued for hours. But the donors spend more money on flight school students than any other student. They just couldn’t take the risk.”
“What risk?” I asked.
“Think about it. What happens when you get pregnant?”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you willing to promise that you’ll never get married?”
I started to worry more about pleasing God than pleasing man.
And guess what happened? Leaders didn’t like it. They liked me a lot better when I was following the rules, playing the good-girl game. A weird and subversive shift occurred when I started showing up more honestly, more passionately as a leader. The best words I can use to describe it are: "painful silence."
She had a way of recognizing the brokenness in her students before we saw it in ourselves, and she collected us like the empty, shored shells that we didn’t know we were. She took us out to coffee. She gave us space to complete the sentence that begins with “I feel…”
In the Bible Department the voices were masculine, bearded, middle-aged. They spoke in great, weighted words and organized their thoughts into outlines, charts. From the men, I learned that faith is linear; from Judy, I learned that it is circular, a labyrinth, ever circling the great mystery of God.
So, returning to the question as to why I am single, there is no simple, easy answer; but I do believe that, in part, it is because I am a woman and a leader and didn’t marry before it became apparent that I was not a behind-the-scenes leader but an up-front, out-loud, follow-me one.
I understand that this might be hard to believe, but I am not exaggerating. I have encountered so few instances of sexism within the mainline church that I could probably count them on one hand. I have been affirmed, supported, and respected every step of the way.
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you in 2013.
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.
You can stay updated on the latest post each week bysigning up for the weekly e-mail list. (You also get a free E-book!)
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.
NOTE TO READERS
We’re taking the rest of 2012 off and will resume again in 2013.