I wrote a post a little over 3 years ago for another blog site with this same title and similar content…but so much about the way I view and talk about women in ministry has changed. So I rewrote it and now it’s over at Youth Specialties.
During Lent, our church has been focusing on prayer. This last Sunday I taught in our preteen ministry on listening to God. Doing a series on prayer has been very tricky with tweens–prayer is very abstract and tweens are very distracted. So teaching on listening to God? This girl must be crazy.
But I think it’s important, and so I do what I do best to teach biblical truths to middle schoolers: I tell a story about it.
The clearest time that God has ever spoken to me was when I was experiencing my call to ministry at the age of 17. This may strike you as crazy, but I didn’t always want to be a youth pastor.
I wanted to be Oprah.
As freshmen in high school, the big English project of the year was to do a paper on what we wanted our career to be when we grew up. I had no clue. I wanted to do something theatrical (if you know me, you aren’t surprised). I had gone through a lot of rough stuff, and so I knew that I wanted to help people. I also watched Oprah every day after school. She was so benevolent to others. I admired that. I decided that I was going to follow in her footsteps: I was going to go school for broadcast journalism, work my way up in the field, and eventually have my own talk show.
This made sense to everyone around me. So much sense, that I became Editor-In-Chief of the school newspaper. So much sense, that I won the senior superlative “Most Likely to Have Her Own Talk Show.”
I was on the Oprah track (okay, maybe not, but I wanted to believe it).
I was simultaneously extremely involved in my youth group. The church gave me refuge from my home and school life, and gave me identity as a struggling teen. I was involved in every aspect of the church, and I mean every. I sang on the worship team, played guitar, ushered, taught Sunday School, even praise-danced (say whattt?). I went on mission trips and was kind of my youth pastor’s side-kick.
When I was in the middle of my junior year, my youth pastor said to me, “You know Heather…when you graduate, you should take over the youth group.
I laughed. And laughed. And laughed.
But there was also a nudge inside of me. A sick feeling that I couldn’t get rid of. But I laughed it off some more.
There were more random people from the church who would come up to me and affirm the work I was doing in the church. Mind you: I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist church. For people to affirm the leadership of a woman was pretty strange. And yet, it was happening.
I tried to keep laughing about it. I told my best friend about it, and she told me “Heather, that’s not funny at all. You’d be great at it.” I talked about it with a few other people—people who I thought would laugh with me. They all said that they could see me in that role. Even people who weren’t Christians affirmed that this was a good career choice for me. Even more than the whole talk show thing.
But I didn’t want to do it—I remembered thinking, “I am a hot-mess teenager. There’s no way that I could help other hot-mess teenagers.”
So I set out to prove to God that he couldn’t use me, and I began to sin A LOT. With every poor choice, I hoped to prove to God that he couldn’t use me to run his church. I’d even open the Bible, hoping that it would tell me that you had to be PERFECT in order to be a pastor or a teacher—and it told me all these stories about God using imperfect people. This only infuriated me.
It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and my sin had all caught up to me. I made some choices that hurt a lot of people, especially myself. I was feeling exhausted.
I was at summer camp, and we were worshiping God through song. I felt really heavy and had to sit down. I put my head between my knees and wept. “Lord, What do you want from me? I can’t continue life the way that I am now…but I also don’t think I should be a youth pastor.”
My list of reasons why was long: I’m a woman. I’m from a broken home. My family doesn’t understand. I might have to actually make changes to my daily life. What if a boy never wants to marry me? I won’t make very much money. I still think I should have my own talk show…
This is the one time in my entire life that I audibly heard God.
“Heather. Look up. This is what you’re meant to be.”
That’s it. That’s all I heard. A strange set of words. “Meant to be?” That’s so 90s Rom-Com.
And when I looked up, I saw teenagers around me worshiping God. I saw teenagers praying in their seats, like me, questioning God. I saw some teenagers crying, praying prayers for forgiveness. I saw some teenagers praying together, comforting one another. And it clicked: I was meant to be a youth pastor.
When I told this story to my preteens (with a few less details), I asked: Is this story about the fact that I audibly heard God’s voice?
Those smarties said “Nope! God spoke to you in lots of ways.”
And, I mean, God had to.
When I look back at my life, I can see how God was preparing me for this the entire time.
And since I accepted that, God is now molding my heart and creating new talents and gifts within in me to do this crazy thing.
And each week, I host a talk show with over a hundred students and leaders.
But my talk show doesn’t give them a free car…it gives them new life.
I recently read the new book “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari. I loved his book, even though it was written from a “secular” point of view–often times when Christians write books about dating and romance, it really misses the mark. They tend to focus more on what it means to “protect your heart” and “save it for marriage,” but forget to talk about the realities and practicalities behind dating. It’s as if these books don’t understand the culture, and assume you’ll find someone who shares the same morals as you easily.
It’s just not that easy. And because dating these days is not easy, I aggressively do so. I go on handfuls of dates, and although they rarely go to a second or third date, I get lots of great stories and free dinners. Life could be worse.
I’ve wanted to share my experiences for a long time, and I’ve refrained because (1) it’s my business and (2) I didn’t know how to share them. I’ve joked about starting a blog called “Evangelical in the City” where Christians share horror stories about dating. But I’m learning that if we don’t talk about the things we are struggling with, then we won’t be able to reconcile them. So I’m sharing some stories here. Maybe one day I’ll write a book of my own.
So, here is my list of my strangest dating moments from the past 8 post-high school years. And since I turn 26 this week, I’ve made 26 points–some of them are from the same dates/men, but I split them up.
- The guy who talked for ten minutes about the types of video games that he likes and then said, “There’s just something about unloading a gun into a crowd of people.”
- The guy who was reading his thick study bible as I walked in, and if that wasn’t enough, brought out a journal of handwritten hymns and used it as something to gesture with while talking.
- The guy who sincerely asked me if I could curse or drink alcohol because I’m in ministry.
- The guy who called himself a beer snob and then drank 4 Coors Lite back-to-back.
- The guy who did the same, but with Bud Light.
- The guy who was with me as I ran into a former boss at the go-cart rink. And then his go cart broke and I felt like I had to slow down for him, even though I could have rode circles around him. Okay, so maybe this one wasn’t all on him. But the next two were him:
- The guy who analyzed why I wouldn’t eat all my ice cream (not because I’m fat and self-conscious. Because I was on antibiotics for a double ear-infection).
- The guy who at the end of the atrocious date, told me that he didn’t want to see me again. Then he hugged me and told me “You’re a beautiful woman, Heather. You’ll find somebody someday!” Then he gave me this weird puppy-dog face.
- The guy who I had a lovely time with at the park playing games with and feeding ducks, but apparently his mom was running laps around the park watching us.
- The guy who didn’t ask me a single question our entire date. I led the entire thing.
- The guy who did the same thing, and I refused to fill the space and tried to allow him time to ask questions. He then comments, “I can tell you over-think things a lot.” Judgey.
- The guy who talked a ton about how he grew up on a farm and never watched TV until college. He moved to Indiana to go get a degree from an unaccredited Bible college. Indiana was CULTURE to him and everything was mind-blowing. After 45 minutes I had to bust out of there.
- The guy who said, “You seem like an empowered woman who will want to pay for her own food” as we order. And you seem like a chivalrous guy who will want to pay for me, anyway.
- The guy who read “Wild at Heart” after our third date and realized he wasn’t man enough to date me. He joined a men’s Bible study/cult.
- The guy who told me on the first date he considered himself a feminist. On the second date he took me to see an extremely sexual movie, and then mentioned he appreciates modern-day feminism’s culture of unapologetic sexuality. Oh.
- The guy who told me his dad was a preacher of a huge church until he read his son’s Left Behind books he got for Christmas. Now he has a church of 30 he preaches turn-and-burn passages to every Sunday. I may have joked that this was all his fault…
- The guy who related everything we talked about back to his Catholic culture and then rebuked me for being ecumenical.
- The guy who told me on the second date that his dad’s house was possessed by demons and that he gets possessed every time he goes there. But I’m the weird one in this story, because I still dated him.
- The guy who told me he was like Buzz, I was Jesse, and right now we’re just on the hunt to find Andy. After rewatching all the Toy Story movies, I don’t think he understood what he was talking about.
- The guy who was a teacher at a school I have students at, and he told his entire department I was his girlfriend after just a few dates–and I found out because his coworker told her best friend who told her daughter who interned for my coworker.
- The guy who told me his drink of choice was Mountain Dew. I can’t trust a guy like that.
- The guy who came into my apartment and immediately comments, “This looks so twenty-something white girl. I think I’ve seen these curtains at Target.” No, I actually made them…
- The guy who told me I wasn’t allowed to wear dresses anymore because he was so attracted to me in them.
- The many, many men who have told me they don’t think women in ministry is a thing (and that I’m sending kids to hell).
- The mom who tried to hook me up with her kid who had just left for college (in her defense, I was 20, but as the youth director it was still mildly inappropriate).
- The guy who I “fell in love with” when I was 14 and yearly adds me on FB, deletes me when I say I’m not interested, and then always comes back around. Going 12 years strong.
My apologies to the men who are Googling me right now to stalk me before we get serious: you may one day turn into a blog post.
This was probably the most “transparent” or embarrassing article to write… and it’s over at The Youth Cartel!
Gina Abbas has published a book through the Youth Cartel titled, “A Woman in Youth Ministry.” Gina contacted me over a year ago telling me about this book, and I was stoked! There are very few books about women in youth ministry, and as Gina points out in her book, the few that are, are written by men.
Trust me–I’ve purchased every book out there about being a woman in youth ministry, and although I treasure them, few are as practical as Gina’s. What I love about this book is that it isn’t a book of whining or joking about all the problems we face. I also love that it isn’t a book of exegetical arguments for the role. It’s a book of practical, real-life stories and advice. Advice that Gina has been sharing on her blog that inspired me as a young youth pastor.
Here are some of the best excerpts:
Gina empowers women to not only overcome male-dominated church structures, but even work from within them. Gina is appreciative of the churches she has worked in that were hierarchical, but also knew when to move on.
In really conservative (male-dominated) evangelical circles that hold a very narrow hierarchical or complementarian theological view of women in ministry, leaders still always find a way to lead.
So yeah, the church can call us “directors,” “coordinators,” “pastors,” or whatever title they prefer. But never forget that whether you’re paid, volunteer, or bivocational; whether you’re single or married, God can use you as a woman in youth ministry.
Being boycotted for being a girl kinda sucked, but I sipped my coffee and reminded myself that it was their hurt speaking.
Gina gives advice on looking for a position in youth ministry…which is difficult.
So my advice is don’t take on a ministry role or volunteer position that ends up being the equivalent of singing up to play baseball without every being allowed to bat. It’s a disappointment I could have avoided if I’d spent more time discerning my own theology and leadership style. But I was never taught how to do that in Bible college, nor did a ministry mentor ever talk me through that process.
I wouldn’t have had any of the youth ministry positions I’ve landed without being willing to move or try something outside of my won theological framework. Like any job or new ministry venue, you have to knock on a lot of doors and sometimes step out in faith, trusting that it’s going to be a good long-term match.
Gina doesn’t let women get away with being called bossy, but empowers them to be bolder!
I get the whole “I’m an introvert–please don’t ask me to pray out loud” thing. But when women are given a chance to lead or an opportunity to speak up, we need to shrug off our insecurities and lead–and lead well.
Gina gives great advice that’s not just for mothers, but translatable for anybody who wants to balance a healthy life apart from ministry.
If your senior pastor and ministry colleagues rarely take their day off, come in every Saturday, and have terrible boundaries with their time, watch out. It’s going to be difficult for you to have a healthy work schedule with set times for ministry and protected time for yourself, your marriage, and your family. Pay attention. If your colleagues are terrible workaholics, it will be tough for you to maintain good boundaries on your own time.
Gina’s book is incredibly well-resourced. She has links and alludes to many different sources for information pertaining to all topics. Gina also asked people–including myself–to contribute parts to the book. I love it, because people of all backgrounds are represented in the voices! I really appreciated Rachel Blom’s excerpt, because Rachel is typically very professional in her writing, but she was very vulnerable and shared a great story.
Relational ministry is bae. If you haven’t heard the term bae before, it stands for “before anything else.” Relational ministry is so incredibly important. We can plan events and preach awesome sermons all day long, but relationships are what make everything click. –Chelsea Peddecord
Please, people, if you’re dead set on having a godly young man be your new youth pastor, then express it clearly in your job description so I don’t waste my time dreaming of how I can love and serve your teenagers and their families. –Morgan Schmidt
Therefore, I need to trade my lack of self-confidence for the image of God who says to me, “I have created you to lead with a beauty that is bold and not bossy; a strength that is secure and not sassy; a valor that is vibrant and not vindictive.” Leading with courage and assurance will be contagious to everyone who watches you lead. Trust me–this is why I look to the women who lead me. –ME!
If you know me, you know I am a MOMMA. BEAR. I am protective of my teenagers, especially my girls.
Don’t be stupid.
As you read the rest of this article, I’m going to tell you to drop your guard a little. Don’t read that as “I’m the only person who can/needs to do this in their life” because that will lead to “I’ve just been fired and am on a sexual offender list.” Am I being dramatic? Of course. I’m a female.
Always have another leader with you, especially if you are meeting with a girl in private. Always gauge where a girl’s personal boundaries are, and don’t cross them. If you feel that a relationship is getting inappropriate, always get another leader involved. There are many things that your female leaders need to lead on in their lives…but this article isn’t about female leaders. It’s about male leaders interacting with female students.
Don’t be afraid to be appropriately affectionate.
Girls need love from men. It’s like ingrained in us. When we get it in a healthy way, we don’t feel the need to seek it out otherwise. It is perfectly okay to give hugs or pats on the shoulder–whatever you are most comfortable with. Be fatherly. Be appropriate. Be affectionate in a way that is comfortable for both you and others.
I think there is this notion that guys have to stick with guys and girls have to stick with girls–but that’s totally off. Everyone needs both genders in their life. There are many girls who don’t have redemptive relationships with their fathers, so many of them may look to you for that. Hear me out: Know your boundaries. But also listen up: My girls need appropriate men in their life.
Whoever you are in your relationship with your girls, just be consistent at it. Don’t be the typical youth worker who stays at a church for 18 months–that hurts more than you may realize. Teenagers feel like people come and go as it is, don’t add to that dramatization by making it a reality. And even if you don’t leave physically, here’s another one that you may not have thought of:
Don’t be awkward when puberty hits.
When they grow breasts and their shorts get shorter overnight, don’t put them at an arm’s length. Don’t get scared when teenagers’ bodies change. They’re pretty aware that they’re looking different. When you take away the affection and consistency you once offered, they notice that. And if YOU pull away from them, they WILL look for that affection somewhere else.
Do have women invest in them, shepherding them through this process. Your role is to stay consistent.
This seems like a no-brainer, but I am constantly reminded that it’s not. Sometimes girls get upset about things, and then guys think it’s funny…and then girls get even more ticked off because guys just don’t understand. This will be a theme throughout your entire life, so take heart: When a girl says be serious, time to get serious. If you can’t handle all the emotions, have another leader help you out.
Don’t shame them.
They’re not always going to want to play messy games, and you need to be okay with that. They are going to sin, and you can’t cast them away for that. Girls over-think things. If you say something rude to them, comment on their outfit, or do something else that is dumb, they will remember that. And they will replay it over and over. No pressure.
Just be affirming. That’s really all this sums up to.
Although John Piper and I would disagree on how this plays out, a quote of his has stood out to me:
Wimpy theology makes wimpy women. Wimpy theology simply does not give a woman a God that is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that magnifies the infinite worth of Jesus Christ.”
A few months back I read the book “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey. The book is simply marvelous. A lot of female theologians tend to bullhorn their theology in a way that is counteractive. Bessey writes in a way that is empathetic and has a way of saying, “You may disagree, but we both love the Lord the same. Neither of us is more right than the other.”
Her book reminds me why we need female theologians: We need people to express God’s Word in ways that are sensitive, nurturing, and that narrate the stories of our lives. Bessey’s book does that.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
So may there be grace and kindness, gentleness and love in our hearts, especially for the ones who we believe are profoundly wrong. The Good News is proclaimed when we love each other. I pray for unity beyond conformity, because loving-kindness preaches the gospel more beautifully and truthfully than any satirical blog post or point-by-point dismantling of another disciple’s reputation and teaching. (p5)
Years ago, I practiced anger and cynicism, like a pianist practices scales, over and over. I practiced being defensive —about my choices and my mothering, my theology and my politics. And then I went on the offense. I repeated outrage and anger. I jumped, Pavlovian, to right every wrong and defend every truth, refute every inflammatory blog post, pontificate about every question. Any sniff of disagreement was a dinner bell clanging to my anger: Come and get it! Rally the troops! Like many of us, I called it critical thinking to hide my bitter and critical heart, and I wondered why I had no real joy in this ongoing search for truth. . . I won’t desecrate beauty with cynicism anymore. I won’t confuse critical thinking with a critical spirit, and I will practice, painfully, over and over, patience and peace until my gentle answers turn away even my own wrath (pp. 5-6).
We can choose to move with God, further into justice and wholeness, or we can choose to prop up the world’s dead systems, baptizing injustice and power in sacred language. (p. 14).
I’m pretty sure my purpose here on earth isn’t to win arguments or perform hermeneutical gymnastics to impress the wealthiest 2 percent of the world. (p. 16).
Throughout the records of the Gospels, I saw how Jesus didn’t treat women any differently than men, and I liked that. We weren’t too precious for words, dainty like fine china . We received no free pass or delicate worries about our ability to understand or contribute or work. Women were not too sweet or weak for the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or too manipulative and prone to jealousy, insecurity, and deception to push back the kingdom of darkness. Jesus did not patronize, and he did not condescend. (pp. 17-18).
“God bless your mother— the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!” Yet Jesus replied to this common blessing with “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” Women aren’t simply or only blessed by giving birth to greatness; no, we are all blessed when we hear the Word of God—Jesus— and put it into practice. We don’t rely on secondhand blessings in Jesus. (pp. 20-21).
I stopped expecting everyone to experience God or church or life like I thought it should be done. In fact , I stopped using the word should about God altogether, I sought God, and he was faithful to answer me. I came to know him as “Abba”— a Daddy. He set me free from crippling approval addiction, from my Evangelical Hero Complex, from the fear of man. He bathed my feet, bound my wounds, gave rest to my soul, restored the joy of church and community to our lives. I learned the difference between critical thinking and being just plain critical. And I found out that he is more than enough, always will be more than enough— yesterday, today, forever. (pp. 49-50).
Stay there in the questions, in the doubts, in the wonderings and loneliness, the tension of living in the Now and the Not Yet of the Kingdom of God, your wounds and hurts and aches, until you are satisfied that Abba is there too. You will not find your answers by ignoring the cry of your heart or by living a life of intellectual and spiritual dishonesty. (p. 52).
People want black-and-white answers, but Scripture is rainbow arch across a stormy sky. Our sacred book is not an indexed answer book or life manual; it is also a grand story, mystery, invitation, truth and wisdom, and a passionate love letter. (pp. 56-57).
It’s dangerous to cherry-pick a few stand-alone verses, particularly when they are used as a weapon to silence and intimidate, effectively benching half the church in the midst of holy harvest season when the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. But it is equally dangerous to simply get on with doing what we “feel” is right. We cannot ignore any portions of Scripture simply because they make our (post) modern selves uncomfortable. We can’t simply dismiss the parts of the Bible we don’t like— not if we call ourselves followers of The (whole) Way. Nor should we weigh the desires or practices of our own culture and personal experiences to the exclusion of Scripture or tradition or reason. Theologian N. T. Wright believes that to affirm the “authority of Scripture” is precisely “not to say, ‘We know what scripture means and don’t need to raise anymore questions.’ It is always a way of saying that the church in each generation must make fresh and rejuvenated efforts to understand scripture more fully and live by it more thoroughly, even if that means cutting across cherished traditions.” (pp. 58-59)
But then who is the spiritual head of your home? Only Jesus. Only ever our Jesus. (p. 74).
No, I am a biblical woman because I live and move and have my being in the daily reality of being a follower of Jesus, living in the reality of being loved, in full trust of my Abba. I am a biblical woman because I follow in the footsteps of all the biblical women who came before me. (pp. 97-98).
Stop waiting for someone else to say that you count, that you matter, that you have worth, that you have a voice, a place, that you are called. Didn’t you know, darling? The One who knit you together in your mother’s womb is the one singing these words over you, you are chosen. Stop waiting for someone else to validate your created self: that is done. Stop holding your breath, working to earn through your apologetics and memorized arguments, through your quietness, your submission, your home, your children, and your “correct” doctrine that God has already freely given to you. Because, darling , you are valuable. You have worth, not because of your gender or your vocation or your marital status. Not because of your labels or your underlined approved-by-the-gatekeepers books or your accomplishments or your checked-off tick boxes next to the celebration you’ve mistaken as a job description in Proverbs 31. (pp. 192-193).
This post originally appeared here: http://youthmin.org/seven-things-women-want-in-youth-ministry/
Being a woman in ministry can be difficult, especially if you are in a denomination that still doesn’t fully support women in ministry. That’s my story—I’ve been a Southern Baptist my whole (short) life, and I can’t imagine not being SBC, except for the fact that many churches won’t hire me. And if they do…well, there’s a whole separate list of complaints.
I have intentionally talked with women all over the internet on Twitter, the youthmin.org Facebook page for women, and in my old university network. Here is a list of things women want. They are things that men need to hear, and women need to be encouraged by.
I would also like to point out my alternative title: What A Girl Wants, What A Girl Needs (ha!)
- A universally true biblical view of leadership. Biblically, N.T. Wright can explain this better than I can, and without the whole bias of being a woman (http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Women_Service_Church.htm). Culturally, I believe in a model of leadership for youth ministry that has both male and female leaders who complement each other and meet the needs of all the teenagers in the youth group. The primary leadership role doesn’t matter as much—either a man or a woman who has been theologically trained and commissioned by God can do the job. In a society where women leadership is embraced even by our political conventions, why is the church still as step behind on this? (Now, I warn you: If you are anti-women-in-ministry, I’m not looking for a fight. So don’t throw punches in the comment section. K thanks.)
- The same amount of respect as a man. A statement that drives me nuts: “I think it is okay for women to lead, I just prefer a man to.” Grrr. If a woman is in a denomination that does not “ordain” women as ministers, a woman can get a position leading a youth group; however they will be called a “director” or “leader” and not a “pastor” or “minister” like a male would in that same role with the same training and experience. This not only cheapens the title, but cheapens the woman. I did not get a degree in ministry so that I could direct a youth group, but so that I could be the shepherd, or pastor, for that group. And even if my denomination “allows” it, many within the church will treat me so that I act cautiously and consciously. ALSO…don’t refer to me as “the girl,” the “minister with boobs,” or refer to my menstruation when I’m emotional. You might find yourself “man-less” (that womanly sass is coming out here!)
- People to quit believing that women are too emotional to lead a ministry. Many assume that because I’m a woman, I’m going to get so emotional that I can’t handle ministry sometimes. My emotions rarely hinder me, but mostly help me. Women are emotional human beings; these are gifts of empathy, mercy, and exhortation. Don’t both males and females, especially children and teenagers, need this kind of nurture? If I get “over-emotional”, it’s because the Father is tugging on my heart to look at something the way he looks at it. Men and women both have weaknesses that can hinder them in ministry. Men and women both have spiritual, but also natural, giftings that are used towards ministry. I think that’s why it’s so important to have both in leadership and in discipleship with teenagers.
- Churches to quit making a “youth pastor mold” for its leaders to fit into. Youth pastors don’t need to be able to play the guitar, have crazy haircuts and beards, own TOMS and an iPhone, be great at sports, and love coffee. It’s because of these clichés and more that women still don’t “look right” in the role of a youth minister. Plus, most male youth pastors in the mold wear women’s jeans anyway.
- More networking opportunities. Women by nature need community and affirmation. So it makes zero sense that there are very few groups dedicated to helping women in ministry. And I’m not talking some red hat society where women get together and drink tea and talk about knitting (although I enjoy all those things, ha!); nor am I talking some feminist community of women trying to figure out ways to catch men “in the act” of sexism. I’m talking an intentional community of women investing in each other and equipping each other for ministry. A group of women who desire to see churches use their members’ gifts in all areas of the church.
- More women to set the example. There aren’t many women examples—women bloggers, women speakers at youth ministry conferences, women professors, women youth pastors. I went to an SBC university, and there was no woman professor in our entire Theology/Ministry college. Hate to put this fantastic site on blast, but there are currently no women in the 11 contributors. Sure, this is representative of the youth ministry community—there aren’t many women. But women need to stop being afraid of the lack and step up! And—
- More men need to be willing to step aside and let women lead. What I have found is that it is very easy to find female volunteers, but not male volunteers. When it comes to finding a paid leader, it’s easy to find male leaders, but not females. Why is this so? Perhaps it is because males are more aggressive in pursuing those roles. Perhaps it is because women are still trying to decide whether they can be a leader. But how many women do you know, that are vocational and have families, that have time to volunteer in a youth group? And if a woman is called to working with teenagers, why expect her to do it for free just because she’s a woman? There is a “stained glass ceiling,” and both men and women need to change that. I believe that ministries, especially youth ministry, need both males and females leading alongside each other and discipling teenagers. I’m not saying that men need to deny their callings just so a woman can do the job; callings can be in many different forms and at many different levels of leadership. I’m not some feminist who says “anything men can do, I can do better” but a minister who says “anything men do, I want to do with them.” It’s terribly important in our culture to model strong men and women, and both men and women need to honor those traits in each other.
Last night I taught at a friend’s church. Something happened that I will never forget.
No, my teaching wasn’t amazing. I was sick, had a crazy busy week, and didn’t bring my A game.
After I taught, I talked to a few of the high school girls. They admitted to me that it was the first time they had heard a woman preach/teach in a room of not just girls.
My first reaction was: What. Whoa.
My second reaction was: This is special. I remember my first time hearing a woman preach. I will never forget it. I even mentioned that to a few of the girls, who told me they’d never forget this either. One of them even said that she was feeling the call to ministry, but had never heard a woman preach or met a woman youth minister.
My third (and the most lingering) reaction was: How crazy that just three years ago, I still was in the same boat. I had never heard a woman preach before, but I was teaching my small youth group out of pure faith that this was something that God had called me to do.
Needless to say, I gave that girl my contact information and encouraged her. I get emails pretty often from young girls who are struggling with their call, but have no example and somehow find me from doing Google searches on the topic. One of my greatest joys is being there as a support for these girls. I hope I never forget where I came from and how God has molded my heart, because now I’m excited that I get to begin molding others.
Paul Turner’s blog is one of the first I read when I began reading student ministry blogs. Paul began a series on Mentoring, and asked me to write a guest blog on what women youth workers look for in a mentor.
I wrote the blog and he forgot about it for an entire month…then had the nerve to ask me where it was. ;) I’m just glad I’m not the only person who feels like she is too busy to breathe at times!
Here it is!
As always: read, comment, and look through the other posts on his site. Cheers!