I have struggled with mild depression since I was a teenager, but it has been worse been lately. I can see a few causes for the downward spike but a big one is the debates, well, more like verbal punches, that have been thrown around on Twitter regarding women in ministry - Complementarian (women cannot preach to men) vs. Egalitarian (women can preach to all people). That is the very simplified definition. When I read comments like, "If you continue to hold the egalitarian position, you are deceived and not redeemed... how can an egalitarian be a saved person?" I feel oppressed and condemned.
There are many who hold the complementarian position that does not have such an extreme view as the guy quoted above, but the bottom line for them is the same - women cannot be pastors.
I have a problem with this. A big problem. When I headed to Bible College 21 years ago, it was with the intention of becoming a pastor. Yes, I detoured from that path over the years, but I have always volunteered at or worked in the church. The church is my safe place - it has been for as long as I can remember.
The more recovery and healing I experience, the more I feel God calling me to be a pastor. I am scared to tell some people that because I don't want a negative response and I don't want to be made to feel that I am wrong in my thinking. The question I keep coming back to regarding the complementarian position is: "Is God not able to call women to preach His Word?" I believe in a God who can do anything within His character. If people are putting the cap on what God can and cannot do, that is a problem.
So, I have taken this whole debate to heart considering I truly believe God is calling me to be a pastor. I don't want to preach on a regular basis but instead, I want to do something that I cannot find a job posting for anywhere. I can see in my mind what the position looks like, but it seems I will have to create it somehow. For many churches, especially small ones, the job falls on the lead, and often only, pastor. In large churches, it is more of an administrative role with a volunteer team that are the hands and feet.
Let me give you an idea of my dream ministry.
There is a new movie out called, "Breakthrough" where a young boy falls through the ice and has a long road to recovery. The pastor of the church hangs out at the hospital with the parents, prays with them, listens to them, and is a support person. His role is to simply be present.
Last week we had a lady fall and sustain an injury that required a trip to the ER. I drove her there, sat with her for over 3 hours, and made sure she got home safely. My role was to simply be present.
And, that is what I want to do. I want to be present for those who are suffering, hurting, going through difficult times, experiencing pain, and whatever else life can throw at people. I want to be a Care Pastor - the one who gets the call in the middle of the night because someone's family member was in an accident. Or, a call to have prayer for a sick friend. Or, to hold someone's hand as they pass into eternity. Or, to sit with at the hospital in the midst of the unknown. Or, have someone sitting in my office who is suffering from the "splashover from hell" (Joni Eareckson Tada, When God Weeps).
There's no job posting for that.
So, I started to doubt myself. Maybe I'm not actually being called. After all, women can't be pastors. And, if there is a job that fits my dream, I have yet to see it. On top of that is a lot of fear of what certain people would think, questions of whether I could really have a ministry like that, and whether, as a woman, my dream is even possible.
Thankfully, God has a way of getting my attention and giving me the encouragement I need at the exact time I need it.
As I was getting ready for church this morning, I decided to listen to my devotion for the day from a YouVersion devotional called, "Embracing Who You Are: Loving How God Made You" by Gather Ministries. As I listened, tears ran from my eyes. Here is a little bit of what God says about us:
You are made to love uniquely, in the unique way I’ve made you to do it. You are whom I have made you to be when you love the way only you can.
Your love—my love in you—is hope for people I love. It is kindness and compassion and gentleness and service. My love in you is what equips you to give freely and love without boundaries. Only when you love freely, with your personality and with your gifts—can my freedom be experienced in you. And that is what people find captivating.
Me in you? That is what is captivating. That is what shines. That is what brings people hope. That is what lets you care less about productivity and more about being with Me. When you are with Me, you are loving. And when you are loving, you are experiencing my freedom; you inhabit my space. It is what you have been designed to live.
Joy. Freedom. Hope.
So don’t second guess how I’ve made you. I only made one you. Only one. You are the only one, my daughter. So inhabit my love and you will love in abundance without having to try. Because you will be being yourself.
God is calling me to love the way He created me to love. When I love in that way, my fears will leave because "there is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).
God created me to love others in a unique way - so unique that there is no job posting for it. I don't know God's plan of how it will all play out, but what I do know is I need to be true to the person God made me to be and love people the way He created me to love.
That, my friend, is freedom.