Today’s guest post is by Jaimie Bowman:
This Mother’s Day I was asked to preach at my church, and the night before I realized that I was quite nervous. My mind rushed back to the first time I ever preached on a Sunday morning, which was when I was 22 years old.
The service was set to begin but we could not find the pastor anywhere. The worship team was missing two members, a husband and wife, and it was glaringly obvious that they were somewhere with the pastor and that something was wrong.
After about 15 minutes, they rushed to the stage, faces beet red. Something in my gut told me that it was about me, but I pushed those insecurities aside and preached for my life. The fire that had been shut up in my bones for the past few years came out, and I felt empowered like never before. I found out later there had been a heated confrontation about me preaching that morning. Immediately after worship was finished, the husband and wife left the service and soon after decided to leave the church.
That wasn’t the first time my "womanhood" caused an issue. When I was 15 years old, I announced to my parents that I felt called to the ministry. My dad, being a pastor of a conservative church that did not support women in ministry, did not feel the need to change his position on account of his daughter. When I was 21, I was almost afraid to tell them I was becoming a Licensed Minister, but I did and we have never really spoken about it since.
Over the years, these kinds of obstacles did not seem to fade. It seemed like wherever I went, minding my own business, other people felt like it was their business too. People tried to "set me straight," discipline me, and put me back into the cocoon that I had just emerged from. I didn’t understand why they were so mad, taking up so much of their time trying to fix me.
The hardest part of the situations that I faced was that I was just trying to obey God. Whenever I preached, I sensed the anointing of God like never before. The words came easy, like honey from my mouth, and my own gender just….never occurred to me. I was too busy preparing for messages to notice what everyone else saw as the elephant in the room. I wasn’t trying to usurp anyone’s authority, or demand my rights, or kick down any doors – I was just trying to be obedient.
Thankfully I had many wonderful people pour life into me during my early ministry years since I went to a Christian university that fully supported women in ministry. Yet, outside of that safety net, I found the church to be a dangerous place. I became one of those women who asked God, “Why did you make me a woman?” and pleaded with Him to take this calling away from me if it wasn’t from Him.
Yet the burden only became stronger.
What surprised me the most was that the majority of the objections came from the women, not the men. It was the men who had spoken life into me, who had urged me to use my gifts, who had prayed for God to open the doors for me. The women often were the ones who seemed most upset and more intent on setting me straight.
I have learned that women can either be each other’s biggest supporters or biggest enemies. Today it is my aim to help other women feel supported and encouraged in their calling. I recently started the South Bay Network for Women in Ministry, inviting women from our area to come together for a time of fellowship and prayer. Nine women joined together at my church, and there was such an excitement in the air. Most of us had never met before, but we became fast friends.
I heard story after story of women passionate about serving their God, yet their greatest obstacle seemed to be the church itself – the church they so desperately wanted to serve. Some of these women were broken, feeling discouraged, overlooked, and underpaid. However, there was a silent hope in the room – a hope that, as we all come together, we can be the support one another’s needs, even when we cannot find it in our own churches.
As women in ministry find one another, there is renewed hope. We have a hope that as we are faithful to use our gifts and not give up, that God will be pleased. We are not here to fight. We are not here to take over anyone’s positions. We are simply here to serve God with our gifts.
Instead of pouring my energy into proving people wrong, I just want to pour my energy into encouraging other women in ministry, to let them know that they are not alone.
And that Mother’s Day sermon that I was so worried about? One older gentleman came up to me and said, "Well, I have to tell you, I didn’t think it would be that good coming from a woman, but I was wrong." I smiled.
Today’s Guest Blogger
Jaimie Bowman is a minister to whomever needs ministering to. Married to her husband-pastor for 13 years, together they have two cute boys, ages 5 and 7. As a speaker and writer, Jaimie longs to connect with and encourage other leaders. Although she lives in Southern California, she does not have a tan and does not go to the beach for fun. You can often find her drinking coffee and writing about leadership at www.jaimiebowman.com, or about motherhood at her personal blog The Wonder Years. Jaimie is a Licensed Minister and holds a Master’s Degree in Church Leadership.
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.
Contributions Welcome: Contact Ed to pitch your post idea in 2-4 sentences.
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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: Tammy Nischan