I'm just plain happy today. Though I would ultimately prefer to have a chance to sit down for a cup of coffee with my dear friend Suzie Lind - whom you may remember from my Open Letter to My Evangelical Friends - opening my blog to her today is pretty wonderful, too. Suzie is such a wise and gifted leader, and I am blessed by her friendship and blessed by her words. I know you will be, too.
I walked up the stairs of the retreat center nestled back in the quiet neighborhood surrounded by trees. With each stone step I asked God to help me with my words and give me listening ears. The elders invited each of the pastors to their meetings, one by one over the course of a few months. Being second up, I didn’t think to ask the first guy how it went. I knew they wanted to check in with us and hear an update from our ministry, but beyond that I wasn’t sure. Was there a problem? Were they concerned about any of my teaching?
Upon entering the room, I was immediately greeted by warm smiles and hugs. Seven men, all of them older than me, and I was keenly aware most of them view me with a father’s heart. Having just come from dinner with my own family and tucking my kids into bed before running out into the night, I sat down relieved to catch my breath and enjoy some light hearted conversation.
The questions then proceeded.
“How are you doing?”
“How is your marriage?”
“Are you enjoying ministry?”
“What challenges are you facing?
“What is the best thing about ministry right now?”
“How can we help you?”
“How can we encourage the men to support the spiritual goals the women have?”
At the end of our time together, they gathered around me. One laying a hand on top of my head, one on each of my shoulders and they each began to pray. They prayed God would fill me with His spirit and that I would keep my eyes on Him. They prayed for me to be brave and to walk in my calling with confidence and hope and they gave thanks for me.
I left the meeting so grateful, loved well, appreciated, and empowered with a real sense of freedom to serve the way God made me. I then began to pray for the many pastors and ministry leaders I know who do not receive anything close to this from their elders. I was aware what I had just received was good, it was how God meant for elders to lead and sadly, it was unusual.
You could say the road into ministry, discovering my calling and much of who I am was completely accidental.
It began with a part-time administrative job needed to supplement our income and then two years later, the women’s pastor of our church resigned so she and her husband could begin a house church. Our elders had no intention of replacing her because we were beginning to focus the church on developing solid men. There was this conviction that as men go, so does the rest of the family. Passive men who rejected their responsibility as servant-leaders were identified as a problem in our culture and our church was going to be about building strong men who in turn led strong families that women are obviously a part of.
I didn’t disagree. But I knew the effort was incomplete. Women still needed shepherding, leading, a vision for their own spiritual growth and equipping for the lives God has called each of us to live. What initially began as an effort to keep the peace at church and help women continue with their existing gatherings, turned into something I never would have anticipated.
To my surprise, love for these women began to grow along with a desire to see them grow and accomplish what God had called them to do. Ideas developed in my mind for how a women’s ministry could go beyond the stereotypes of doilies, flowers and surfacey gatherings to a movement of women who love Jesus and others.
I envisioned a community of women who were raw, authentic and brave enough to talk about the messiness of life. A stirring to see women go deeper in their understanding of scriptures and theology would awaken me in the night, prompting me to write and fueled my teaching. So I began to lead, teach (something I NEVER thought I would do) and write about Jesus, His word and His movement among us.
Occasionally my circle of influence reaches beyond women but it doesn’t matter much to me. This conviction about women being gifted and called to ministry is founded not only in scripture but also by the dust of the Rabbi and His grace in my own life. The Creator of the Universe has invited me into His story. My gifts and calling contribute to being merely a brush in the hand of a great Artist. When He thinks I will be useful He is the one who calls me out and on to the canvas. Who and what I am called to is insignificant compared to the One who calls.
About Today's ContributorSuzie Lind is the Women’s Pastor at King’s Harbor Church in Torrance, CA. At any given moment, and “in” just about every moment, she is teacher, mom, wife, leader, speaker, student, diaper changer, and writer. Her joys, gleanings and moments of sheer lunacy are birthed out of all these roles. Her greatest joy is soaking up the truths and revelations of God’s word and sharing them with others through teaching Bible Study and writing on her blog, Hemmed In.
Suzie lives in San Pedro with her husband Steve and four boys, Jason (12), Silas (9), Judah (7) and Nathan (almost 2). They also have a dog, a girl named Marley.
About the Women in Ministry SeriesThe 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 and encourage women to explore their God-given callings.
Contact Katherine at katherinepershey[at]gmail.com to pitch your post idea in 2-4 sentences. You can stay updated on the latest post each week by signing up for the weekly e-mail list.
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