I have spoken with many women who attend a church where women are not accepted into the leadership. I have seen women with tears in their eyes, and heavy hearts. I have cried those same tears, and asked God why. I have questioned my calling, because others did not accept my calling. I have spent hours reading and researching. I have debated and argued. I have spent time trying to convince others of my calling, and have come to some conclusions about the issue. First, my calling is from God. Second, it is important to have spiritual leadership in my life, and to be obedient where God is calling me to serve. Third, a quiet-patient-but confident female will have her place in ministry whether or not a title is attached to her service.
Recently, I had a conversation with a seminarian who was writing about women in the pastoral role. The person questioned me on an author, and I immediately reacted. Instead of listening, I reacted, because of the hurt I have experienced in my life. This person was not attacking women in ministry or leadership, but was himself trying to come to an understanding. Sometimes women are questioned in a way men are not questioned. There are times when a woman is expected to defend her call. She has to prove herself, or else she must not be called. Nonsense! I do not have to prove my call to anyone. I am responsible to God for the calling which has been placed on my life. I am responsible to use the talents I have been given. After much debate with several women and men, I have come to the conclusion the only one I need to please is God.
It breaks my heart when I hear women tell me their pastor does not support their ministry. It makes me cry when I hear women tell me they cannot teach in their church, and they are not allowed to preach in the pulpit. It breaks my heart, because it breaks God’s heart. The gospel was meant to bring freedom, liberty, unity, and justice to all. Calvary was not for one gender, it was for both women and men. Calvary was for us all.
But, what do you do when your pastor says no? What do you do if your pastor does not believe in your calling. What do you do if your pastor or spiritual leader does not believe women can serve in leadership? I believe there are many things you can do. Here is a starting list, but certainly not exhaustive.
1. Respect the leadership in your life. Do not act as if you know everything. Listen to your pastor. Maybe you will need to pray and ask God for a space of growth and understanding. Ask God to speak to the leadership in your life. Also, realize your pastor may not recognize your call because you have not taken the appropriate steps to prepare in your calling. If you have not taught a Bible study, do not expect a seat next to the pulpit. Maybe you have some personality flaws or rough edges. Sometimes it is not about gender, rather it is about personality. Do not be harsh and critical. Do not go behind your pastor, and question and gossip. Do not disrespect the leadership God has placed in your life. You will be responsible before God for the way you use your gifts and talents, but always try your best to respect leadership. Respect can go a long way. A soft spirit will bring your calling before many. Do not try to push your way into a calling and ministry. Allow God to open the doors, and walk through as the Spirit leads you.
2. Serve where you are. I once sat in a session where Brother Bernard was talking to both women and men who felt called to ministry. Brother Bernard talked about how he started a service on an off night in order to give himself a place to preach. You might have to think outside of the box to fulfill your calling. You might have to go out and teach a Bible study. Teaching Bible studies is one on one preaching. Do not be afraid to step out and get radical. I guarantee if you start bringing people to church, your pastor will take notice of the gifts and calling God has on your life. Right now I am serving as a hospital chaplain. This is a different way God is using me to fulfill the role of pastoral care in my community. I might not have thought this was where God was originally leading me, but I am learning more about compassion, grief, loss, suffering, and ministry than I might have learned in a different place. I do not believe this is where I will stat forever, but for now, this is where I am serving.
3. Refuse to complain, and live in your calling. I have often found myself in the trap of complaining. I get hurt by men who tell me I am not called by God because of my gender. I do not want to react to an argument. I want to be on the offense. I do not have to live on the defense. The city is big enough for me to teach a hundred Bible studies if I want. I will not complain. I will live in my calling.
4. Seek a mentor and other spiritual leaders in your life. No person should be completely dependent on another person to where they do not have others who speak into their life. In my own personal life I have several people who I trust to speak the Word of God into my life and calling. Many of these people have views I do not fully agree with, but I trust the love they have for me. Many people will come into our lives, and we can learn from each of them. Especially if you are a woman, you need a female mentor to help you in your journey. I would specifically like to offer to listen to you, and be there for you if you need a friend. I am always available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I may not have all the answers, but I have a heart and burden for your ministry and leadership. I also will pray for you. I believe one hundred percent in prayer, and I will pray for your needs. I believe God can move mountains. I believe if we are led by the Holy Spirit, many doors will open. If we walk alone, we cannot move mountains.
5. Go Where the Spirit Leads. God is always leading and guiding, but sometimes we do not hear the call. We serve and live in a global church. The church is not confined to one building, city, denomination, or movement.. The church extends beyond culture, and to all people. My challenge to you is to be open to where the Spirit might lead you. If you are called to leadership, you need preparation time. You need teaching. You need mentors. God might be calling you to seminary, or to a Bible College. God might be calling you to secular college for a leadership degree. Follow the lead of the Spirit, and allow God to confirm your calling in stages. Your calling will not appear one day in one moment It will take time, years. God will be working on your calling and ministry for your whole life. Be patient, and take the steps as they come.
I hope these tips will help someone who might be hurting. God knows where you are at. God knows your pain and your struggles. God knows the desires of your heart. I believe if you will yet again surrender your will to God, God will direct and confirm your calling. Let the Spirit bring confidence into your ministry. Let the Spirit transform your life. Refuse to stay the same. Keep growing. Do not become stagnant. Do not become bitter or angry. Do not leave a movement, but stay and help bring change and growth. God loves you. God cares for you. God believe in the calling and purpose which was created in you before your natural birth. Be strong. Love. Keep dreaming. There are many women and men who are out there who believe in you and your ministry. I am on them. I believe in you. I’m praying for you, even though I may not know your name. God is with you. -Crystal
Copyright 2014 Crystal Schmalz