I gotta be honest. I used to not get this rambling about women in ministry. I really didn’t understand what the big deal was. Move along. Do what you’re called to do. Stop rallying.
And then I had a realization.
I didn’t get not feeling like you have permission to do ministry. Because I was never taught I needed it.
My parents named me Kelly. I had a small wooden plaque on my bedroom wall from as early as I can remember telling me in a 1980’s font that my name meant bold. Brave.
The first scripture my parents gave me to memorize was Psalm 56:3 – “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”
When I was in sixth grade and wrote in a class assignment that I wanted to be a pastor, no one corrected me. No one argued.
When I was a senior in high school, I got to preach on our last night in youth group. (The sermon was terrible – but I got to preach.)
That same guy who let me preach at 18 hands me a microphone to preach about once a month at our church in Paris. He has never prefaced me by calling attention to my being a woman. He’s never applauded himself for letting a woman speak.
A year and a half ago I stood on our district council business floor and publicly (but nicely!) disagreed with all the men on the platform, including my father. I could feel my dress shaking against my legs. “Did you see your dad’s face??” someone asked me after. “No…I couldn’t look at him,” I replied nervously. “Oh,” they said, “he was so proud of you.”
I guess I don’t understand the women in ministry debate because I was in college before I even heard of the notion of it being an issue.
I had never heard that women had an innate need to be rescued until I was told that men needed us to be damsels in distress for them to feel like men.
I honestly did not know that I was supposed to be perpetually scared in order to be feminine. I was raised to be brave. To trust Christ when I was needing a rescue.
I understand more with each year. I am not swayed in my confidence, but I understand.
When I am told as a guy ends a relationship with me that I am too much of a leader. When he removes himself from my life because I missed that whole ‘needing rescue’ thing and learned to be brave.
When I hear female pastor friends of mine tell the horror stories they have encountered.
When I am excluded from an interdenominational prayer meeting because I am a woman.
But I grew up with a mom that carried anointing oil in her purse right next to her lipstick. Who laid hands on the sick. Who participated in conversations with men about God – who encouraged her brothers in Christ with no pretense. She carefully applied her makeup each Sunday and then cried it all off – if not in worship, in prayer for someone. She named me bold.
I grew up with a dad that never told me I couldn’t be in ministry. He never even warned me that I would face opposition due to my being a woman. He always told me I was pretty and he took me on a date for my 13th birthday and then almost 20 years after that laid his strong hands on my head and ordained me into the ministry. He named me brave.
I grew up with parents and other adults who prayed I would seek the Holy Spirit. They prayed that more than they prayed I would find a spouse or that I would be happy. They prayed Presence into my life. They named me bold and taught me about the Holy Spirit, who makes it true.
Why pray for our daughters to be filled with the Spirit if we are not going to let the Spirit speak through them? It is to us to name the next generation of women bold. Brave. Women prepared to seek first the Kingdom – the now and not yet coming of the Gospel to our world. It is to us to teach them that we have been redeemed beyond the need of rescue – and that what time we are afraid, we can put our trust in Him. It is to us to listen when the Spirit speaks through them.
Let us call our daughters bold. Let us tell them they are brave. Let us teach them to associate femininity with wasting their lives for the poor and powerless rather than being powerless themselves. Let us teach them that their rescue comes from Christ. Let us treat their callings to ministry as normative – let it be as normal as them saying they want to be a teacher or a mommy when they grow up. Let us, the women in the now, preach in heels and red lipstick or flats and no makeup, preach 8 months pregnant or unmarried and childless, lead worship with our baby strapped to us, lead the church with blonde hair curling around our shoulders or cropped up close to our head. Let us open the door wide and let the little girls in the church see us praying before service, worshiping our makeup off, serving communion to our brothers and sisters. Let them see us, fully and proudly feminine, whether we are adoring our husbands and corraling children or coming home to an empty house.
Let us release our daughters into the Spirit’s wind. Let us name them Bold.