I’m writing this for one reason only: my daughter. I want the world she grows up in to be better than the one in which I did.
That’s not to say mine was all that bad. My parents loved and cared for me beautifully. I went to the same church, under the same pastor, my entire upbringing. My dad was a deacon. We were highly, no, extremely involved and I loved it all. But there was a void I never knew existed until recently. You see, I didn’t have anyone ever say, “Women can’t preach/lead/teach/pastor/whatever…” No one even whispered under their breath, “A woman’s place is not speaking behind a pulpit.” In fact, I was raised under a doctrine that supports all of that. Still, I heard these messages loud and clear.
Here’s where all the women were growing up: directing women’s ministries (my concept of it was a home decorating party that made women feel obligated to buy stuff), leading children’s church, teaching Sunday School, cooking for all the major church meals, and singing. I can recall one woman speaking behind the pulpit. I think she was a missionary sharing her testimony. That’s it.
And here I was. I knew God was calling me to a life of ministry. I can remember saying often that I was going to be a preacher’s wife. There was man who would always say, “No, Amy, you’re gonna make someone a preacher’s husband.” I always laughed, because it didn’t fit the mold I was given. I could sing. That was the obvious choice.
And sing I did. I loved it, and even earned a degree in it. So I led worship in whatever church we were on staff at. There’s nothing altogether wrong about this. However, it took me years to discover a greater call in me to speak. I was single when I graduated college, and a few mentors encouraged me to get as many letters behind my name as possible. I was gonna need it in this highly masculine world called church. So I made sure to get my license to be a minister. After I got married, I went on to becoming ordained.
In the last few years, I sort of figured this whole speaking thing was something new about myself; as though God had placed an entirely new gift in me. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. When I sit and think about it, I can remember nightly sermons I would preach to myself in front of my dresser mirror in my bedroom. And boy, I could drive a point home! Getting ready for school, I would have messages burning in my heart to say to nobody but my hairbrush and curling iron. And what about the man who always talked about my preacher’s husband? Why did I never recognize this glaringly obvious call to speak? Because there were no examples in my world. None.
That brings me to today. When my new ministers card comes in the mail each year, it’s addressed to me, then “Mrs R M” (my husband’s initials). When I go to a minister’s meeting, oftentimes my name badge says “spouse”. Listen, I’m not trying to get up in a tissy over little things people are probably doing unintentionally. This isn’t me being some kind of uber-feminist coming in with my elbows swinging trying knock down the men. No, this is me saying I’ve been set back from my calling for decades because what we SAY is acceptable is a far cry from what we DO.
Pastor, if you don’t have a woman on your speaking schedule this year, you are overlooking an awesome opportunity to let a highly qualified and anointed voice bring the Word to your congregation. Denominational leader, if your name badges/addressing systems for mail aren’t recognizing women for who they are on their own two feet, you are diminishing a divinely appointed call on a life. Young lady, if you feel a message always stirring in your spirit to speak, don’t wait for a mold to open up for you, break that mold and preach it!
Changes need to be made within our churches. I don’t want this just for myself. I want it for my little girl.