This letter, printed here with permission, is from one of my students who is wondering about going into a ministry … and she’s a young woman… which can complicate matters.
Recently, I’ve really been wondering what I will be doing with my life. I believe I can serve God anywhere and that that call is my highest call, above whatever vocation I pursue. I haven’t solidified my beliefs on whether I think God has an exact, specific path my life “should” follow, or if He desires only that I follow and serve Him and that the rest really all comes under His plan as long as I am not living in sin. Still working on, praying through, and struggling with that one.
That said, I have really been coming to some sort of realization that what I want to do with my life is ministry. More than just the “our whole lives are meant to be ministry”. But in the very deliberate, intentional action and heart of giving my life to God for the purpose of Him realizing His Kingdom in me and in others, desiring that He use me in a way to help bring that about.
I’m starting to see connections among my gifts and my passions and am seeing trends in my life that point that this is likely the life I am headed into (and am actively trying to live in now). I feel weird even typing it or considering it seriously because it all seems so foreign and unlikely, yet so exhilarating and potentially life-altering, but I’m starting to wonder if I might become a pastor or a church-planter.
I grew up in a [church where women aren’t ordained and where] men were the only leaders, and women could not so much as pray in public. I remember even as a kid thinking I wanted to be in youth ministry, but I couldn’t be a minister. It wasn’t allowed. I prayed regularly that I would marry a youth minister so I could marry into that sort of Kingdom work. I have since attended many denominations of churches and honestly don’t know what many of them believe about women in ministry or other controversial topics that I find directly pertinent to my faith. And at times, I have been burned by pursuing certain things that I believe to be of God, being hushed by implied messages of “That really shouldn’t happen in the Church.”
Though I [challenge] “Christian culture” in so many ways, all the words and debates I have seem to falter when it applies so directly to me. In some ways, I still feel obliged to respect the authority of the church. But I struggle with this because I believe that the authority of God is greater than the authority of the church, and frankly, the church doesn’t have it all together.
How do I work through this tension when I am fighting against patterns that are so ingrained in the church, and unfortunately so ingrained in me as a result?