The very person who extended an invitation for a call to ministry was the first to tell me God does not call women to ministry. He was my first youth pastor. He was charismatic, dynamic and made it seem like almost anything in life was possible.
Part of our tradition held to the weekly three part invitation, 1) for salvation 2) for rededication 3) for ministry. As a young teenager, I heard the invitation every single week asking if God was calling me to ministry. It penetrated deep into my bones. It was a question that became part of the very fibre of my being. We were encouraged to think about this as a real viable option. This particular youth pastor moved to another state but his influence in my life was huge. Fast forward a few years and I did accept that call to ministry.
The summer before I began seminary, I ran into that youth pastor. I was with the teenagers with whom I was volunteering. We saw each other, hugged and did all of the obligatory “how are you?” “you look so good!” “I miss you!” I was so excited to tell him that I had listened all those years earlier and I thanked him for the invitation to ministry. He just stared for a moment and had the most peculiar look on his face. I asked what was wrong and he said “well…I am just surprised. I don’t think women can be in ministry. I never expected any of the ‘girls’ in the youth group to take me up on that. I still think you are great! It’s nothing personal, God just doesn’t allow you to be in ministry.”
I just walked away. I said nothing. I was so stunned.
Looking back I wish I had said something! I wish I had told him that he was wrong. That even if he didn’t realize it, God was working through him! I have so gotten over the notion that God does not call women.
God has, God does and God will continue to call women into ministry.
It took a long time for me to be able to say that with confidence. It took my finally realizing that it was more important to please God than to please any leader before me, regardless of how much I respected him or her or how much she or he had taught me. Sometimes surviving is listening and realizing others are a work in process as well and not everyone is right just because they say it with conviction and attach a verse or two as proof.
ps. I am looking for stories of those who have survived Christians in a variety of ways. The stories need to be told. Not to air dirty laundry but to tell others “you are not alone” and that surviving is a real possibility!! Feel free to contact me via comments or e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!