So your daughter has told you she wants to be a pastor. Or a youth pastor. Or wants to pursue some other vocational ministry calling. And you’re not quite sure how to raise her in a world where some people will tell her she’s not allowed in a pulpit. Here are a few things you can do now, no matter how young she is, to nurture her call.
1. Listen to her.
I have always been a talker. I tend to have a lot of questions and, to my sister’s lifelong annoyance, opinions. I have been passionately conversing with my parents about ministry, theology, the church at large since I was a child. I am sure I exasperated them much of the time, but in general they would engage in conversation with me. When I was a child I would come to my dad with simple questions about the Bible. Now one of my favorite things about visiting home is sitting around the kitchen table with him talking for hours about where the church is headed, how our generations are different, and fighting about doctrinal issues we disagree with each other on.
One true gift my parents gave me was listening to me and considering my opinion. Even at a young age they made me feel like I had something to contribute – something smart to say. There has seemed to always be an understanding that I was filled with the same Spirit that filled them. Oh they often corrected me – and offered much-needed wisdom – but I was always invited to engage in conversation.
If you believe in her call, listen when she talks. Let her wrestle through church and theology questions with you. Invite her into the conversation. Consider her thoughts. Agree with her when she’s right. Let her voice be important.
2. Get her around female ministers.
I can still tell you the names of some of the single female missionaries who spoke at my dad’s church and who joined us around our table. I can still remember being a bit surprised they didn’t have husbands or kids, but I remember hearing them talk about Jesus and far-off places in a way that made me want to be like them. And I watched my dad listen to them and learn from them. Even as a little girl I got to see women pray (both privately and publicly), share the Word, and lead worship.
When I was twelve years old my church camp counselor was a youth pastor along with her husband. They moved the next year to become youth pastors at my home church. She was incredible – she was strong and yet grace-filled. I watched her and her husband operate in a teamwork I had never seen before. As I grew I watched her preach, pray, and give wise counsel.
Have a single female missionary over for dinner. Let your daughter stay at the table even when she gets annoying in desiring the attention of your guest. Let her stay up late to hear Jesus-stories. Keep her in service when a woman preaches. Take her to a conference with a female preacher headlining.
3. Let her start doing what she’s called to do.
The same pastor who was my camp counselor mentioned above has a daughter who was called into ministry at a very early age. This woman is an incredible ministry mentor and took her daughter seriously when she said she was called to preach. This young girl has been traveling to children’s ministry events with her mom for years now, always invited to join her mom in ministering during the service and then praying for kids afterwards. This mom has been nurturing her daughter’s call for years – both in platform ministry and in truly extravangantly loving and caring for people in the day-to-day together.
Your daughter is called to preach? Let her watch you in your message prep process. Let her participate.
She’s called to lead worship? Get her in music lessons (bonus points if it’s with a worship leader) and get her on a worship team as soon as her skill allows. (Yeah, the adult team. I’ve used a 9 year old drummer.)
She’s called to kids ministry? Get her leading portions of the children’s service or volunteering in the younger kids’ classes.
She’s called to pastor? Take her with you when you pray for the sick in hospitals. Invite her to join you in pre-service prayer. Let her pray for people at the altar.
4. Take her to conferences.
Being a pastor’s kid means I also got to see the boring, non-platform part of ministry – conference services where I colored under the pews and revival services where I fell asleep long before the end of service. As I got a bit older I started observing business sessions for our organization’s local meetings.
And there was always room to talk about it. I would (um…and still do) ask my dad tough questions. Why was that guy so rude? Why didn’t the chair speak to the issue? Why did they do it that way? Is that Biblical? And he would (um…and still does) answer me patiently, explaining process and the spiritual importance behind all of this, and explaining parts of the service that I didn’t understand or was skeptical about.
If you have a daughter who is interested in ministry, take her with you to big services and ministry conferences. Even the business sessions. Start to see these processes through her eyes. Start to feel the same burn we do when there are no women on the platform. Start to desire for her to see strong and soft women who lead with grace and boldness. Start to notice all the times when women are spoken down to or stereotyped or sexualized. Say something. Get some skin in the game.
Don’t wait until your daughter is an adult to start advocating for her call. Begin to open the door for her now. Begin to instill in her a boldness and an unapologetic desire for the advancement of the Gospel.
Do you have a daughter called into ministry? How are you advocating for her call even now?