By Amy Starr Russell
Why women in ministry?
This is a question I have been rolling around in my head and my heart since I was a teenager and I was first confronted with the idea that gender had something to do with ministry. When I first felt drawn to ministry, over 20 years ago, I thought it would be a celebration. And it was… in my home church. But, for others, my calling was a “misinterpretation” of the voice of God.
So, on some days, I find that I have the energy to answer this question with sound scriptural and theological reasoning. And, on other days, days like today, I don’t want to answer this question at all.
It’s PersonalI don’t want to answer it because the answer is too personal. ‘Why Women in Ministry?’ is not a theological “issue” for me. It is my life. God extended the invitation, and I decided to join God in this ministerial endeavor. I trained as a minister. I am ordained as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I work as a minister each day of my life. This is who I am and who God has called me to be.
Asking, “Why women in ministry?” stirs feelings of insecurity and vulnerability within me. Asking the question creates the possibility that someone will try to invalidate the years that I have given and will continue to give to this calling.
In fact, I have experienced the sting of invalidation (on the basis of my gender) many times. I didn’t expect to continue to justify my calling throughout my career. It’s expected when a call to ministry is first experienced. It’s expected around the act of ordination. But, I didn’t expect to be seven years in and still encountering people who want to debate whether God has indeed called me too.
Is This a Valid Question?
So why do we accept this as a valid question in the first place?
I would like to say is that it is time for people to stop asking the question! But, as my mama taught me: I can’t control others. I can only control myself.
Changing our Response
So, instead, I will say that it is time to change our response. We cannot make everyone comfortable with our presence or with our calling. Past a scriptural and theological disagreement, people tell me that they are just uncomfortable with a woman in the pulpit. My appearance and my voice are not the vehicles through which they are accustomed to hearing God’s message. I simply cannot, and should not have to, change that for them.
I don’t know if those people will ever be comfortable with my body in a pulpit. But, I don’t mind their discomfort. I will continue to listen to the voice that first compelled me to choose this life. And, instead of giving the question too much space, I will reassert my response. I will continue to affirm the calling of each woman in ministry. When others do not believe or support women’s presence in ministry, I will believe and support them. The false humility of believing women are not worthy of God’s calling is not an option. I will not buy into it because there are too many people that will do that for me.
So ladies, do not tarry. Do not wait for others to decide that God calls women just as God calls men. Do not wait because the world is waiting for you! Your life can be a response to the question. Continue forward being just who God created you to be: Christ’s light in a broken and hurting world.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.