Stories written in response to the #SheNeeds series
This is an anonymous story written by a friend.
I grew up in a Christian family and committed to follow Jesus at the early age of 8. My enthusiasm, boldness and leadership skills were commented upon by those around me. I had felt a strong calling to be a missionary at the time when I chose to follow Jesus. I was young but determined to live that out as a present calling rather than to wait to see that come to fruition. In my teenage years, I began to question how much I could live out this calling. It seemed that there were some things that only men could do. The guidelines for what a woman could or could not do were either blurry or unspoken.
It came to a peak when I was 16 and at a big Christian summer festival. It was the second year in a row that I had been and participated in a seminar track on leadership. I had felt a strong call to be a leader but didn’t know what to do with it. At one session, there was a time for prayer response for people who felt called to be Church leaders. I look back on this and wonder why on earth I went up for prayer. I felt prompted to do so but what happened next makes me wish that I had never moved from my seat. I went up for prayer and a man told me… “I’m sorry but we don’t believe that women can be church leaders and so we cannot pray this for you.” I wasn’t the only girl who had gone up the front for prayer – there were three of us. We were told to pray for one another that God might show us how to serve Him and use our gifts of leadership in other ways. I felt so confused and hurt – I had felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit, or at least I thought I had. And yet, here I was feeling called to something labelled “impossible”, “unbiblical” and “ungodly”. What a weird situation to be in as a 16 year old! I didn’t know what to do, so supressed any sense of this calling and pretended that it had never happened. I must have misheard God’s voice and prompting, I must have misheard any calling to be a leader.
I didn’t know what to do, so supressed any sense of this calling and pretended that it had never happened. I must have misheard God’s voice and prompting, I must have misheard any calling to be a leader.Tweet
During my time at University I was a student leader in my Christian Union. I experienced an equality of male and female leadership. We were co-workers together. Serving Christ and building His church through mission and discipleship. There were no different expectations for a man and a woman – we were the same, we were equal. I felt valued, honoured and equipped – able to lead in different areas and considered the same as a man. There was no difference between us. We are both disciples, we are both children of God, we are both servants in His kingdom and we are both called to serve in His mission.
This experience was liberating but it added to my confusion about the role of women in the church. I had found a place where I felt free to serve and use my gifts and yet only for a temporary period. It almost felt like a harsh trick. As soon as I finished university, I had to step back into being limited again to the rules of what was allowed in the church. I asked myself, which experience reflected the role of men and women in God’s Kingdom, which one is how it is meant to be?
This experience was liberating but it added to my confusion about the role of women in the church. I had found a place where I felt free to serve and use my gifts and yet only for a temporary period. It almost felt like a harsh trick.Tweet
There is so much uncertainty and difficulty for women to figure out their calling and their role in God’s Kingdom. It isn’t clear and nobody seems to want to give any definitive answers. We all dance around the issue, thinking that avoidance will help. It doesn’t help – lack of clarity undermines women even more. I wish I didn’t have this confusion – I wish I could just follow the calling that God has given me to do. But it isn’t that simple… Why did God make it this way? Why did God create me as a woman? Some days, I wish I were a man.
Read more in this series
She needs you to fix the leaky pipe
She needs brothers for her to speak in your church
She doesn’t feel good enough to serve in your church
5 thoughts on “Some days, I wish I were a man”
This is the saddest blog I have read in months. How could God want us as women to wish we were men? How could a good God place in our hearts gifts & healthy desires to help others grow spiritually without wanting us to use them? It is clear to me that God is calling you, the writer, but you are looking to ‘men’ to validate that calling. If we look to men to validate our calling – we are placing their opinion above God.
With God’s spirit living in you, calling you and drawing you into ministry, trust God above the voice of men. I am not surprised you have lost your confidence in your calling after the traumatic experiences you have been through, but you can be healed and move onwards into your best, God-given you. God did not create this church system, God did not create this theology, God created each of us as unique individuals.
There aren’t definitive answers, don’t wait for them. Look broader out into the 2000 years of Christian history and theology and see how little definitive answers there have been! Our faith and our God are much bigger than this segment of time & culture.
Step into your calling for the world needs your gifts!
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Thank you for your comments and empathy, I’ll pass them on to the author.
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Yours is a heart-breaking story, no doubt incredibly resonant to many women who read this blog, but also to us men whose desire is to be allies, champions and co-workers with women in leadership in the church.
Sadly our churches are full of examples of restrictions placed on people based, not on their gifts or their character, but their identity or their circumstances (for myself, I have been called to the leaders of a church and required to justify to them why I should be able to participate in communion as a divorced person).
I have no cure for your pain, or even any wonderful solution to enable you to find a place where you can test the ministry you believe God is calling you to.
My experience, however, has been that however good the preaching, however kind the believers, and however growing a church appears, if it is not a place where you truly believe you can flourish by serving as you think is appropriate for your gifts (acknowledging that we all also have to do some less appealing things too!), you need to find somewhere different for church where you can do those things.
If that’s what you do, be clear and firm about why you are going – because people need to know that they have driven a godly Christian away and should be confronted with the shame of that.
But also, for your own sake, try and leave with compassion in your heart for those who are losing you and your gifts.
May your journey be blessed.
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Dear Andrew, thank you for the time you have taken to write. Thank you for your empathy and wisdom. I am so sorry for your experience. I will make sure the author sees this. Nay