I once obeyed without worrying who would disapprove or who would pat me on the back. Before I learned to cower in self-consciousness, I followed God with the bravado only a teen can muster.
I was bold and unstoppable.
In 1998, I sat on my floral bedspread reading the Student Bible when the Holy Spirit spoke to me. As I read about Spiritual gifts in Romans, I heard him tell me how he was calling me to leadership.
I’m not exactly a natural-born leader. And isn’t that just like God?
I knew he wanted me to lead my high school Bible club, Youth Alive. So, I said yes. It was a simple, naïve yes.
I wish I could tell you this pattern continued, but I can’t. Not really.
In the 17 years since, I’ve felt other nudges to lead. And instead of embracing it, I’ve wrestled with the doubt I can’t lead because I’m a woman.
In 2003 after two years of theology classes and ministry training, I stood one exam away from becoming a certified minister. But I didn’t take that next step.
Growing up women’s ministry looked like quilting and gossip, missions bake sales and pot lucks. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to see educated, Spirit-led women step into their God-given passions for leading and teaching.
A gap does exist in our churches, and it’s a leadership gap. For too long, women like me have shied away from their callings.
In the churches I’ve attended since, I’ve often wished I could join the men’s Bible studies. I’ve pined for a women’s ministry that goes deeper than Pinterest and shopping. I’ve hungered for a profound encounter with the Word of God and sensed a gap.
But I never saw myself as a leader that could bridge that gap. For years, fear of judgment and rejection has pinned me behind the scenes.
I’ve wrestled with the Church’s split view on women in ministry, and I’ve been scared of getting it wrong.
But I’ve found I don’t have to look further than Jesus for permission. I love how Jesus empowered every woman he met.
Slowly I’m sloughing off this stubborn, subtle idea men are better suited to lead. Slowly I’m learning to use my voice for God’s glory.
Caine, the founder of the A21 Campaign to end human trafficking, knows a thing or two about living unstoppable. In her book, Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do, she gives us this nugget.
“Nothing about my birth—or yours—was random or accidental. I was born for this time—and so were you. We were each chosen for a particular, cosmically important task that can be done by no one else.”
I feel my old bravado returning as God awakens in me old dreams, dreams so big only a kid can believe. He’s stripping away my grown-up perspectives and giving me the faith eyes of a child.
I’m starting to see that all things really are possible to the one who believes, (Mark 9:23). I’m starting to believe that God can use me—even me.
And he can even use you.
I’m steeping my mind daily in this truth, wrapping myself in the identity that I’m a chosen—in spite of my gender.
I’m learning to live with passion and lean into a calling so real fear and self-doubt can’t shake it.