The other day I was having lunch with a friend at my favorite restaurant, but I could hardly concentrate on the food because the conversation was blowing my mind. Specifically, we were talking about the role of women in ministry. She was asking some questions that I honestly couldn’t answer. Among her inquiries:
“Why can’t a woman step into this role?”
“What would happen if a woman felt led to fill this position?”
Being completely honest, I have to admit that I didn’t have any answers. I tried to be cautious with my answers because I wasn’t even sure if I agreed with her or disagreed. All I knew was that her questions went outside of my little theological boxes—the teaching I was used to hearing about what women could and could not do.
Long after we hugged goodbye and agreed that we had to have lunch together again, I continued to think about the conversation. How did I feel about what she was saying? What did I believe a woman could or could not do in God’s kingdom?
I’ll admit that this was a struggle for me. Over the years I’ve heard all of the teachings regarding why women should not be in ministry or should have a limited role in ministry. On the other hand, I grew up studying the lives of women in the early Pentecostal movement like Aimee Semple McPherson who broke all the barriers and made a powerful impact for God’s kingdom. Personally, the Holy Spirit has already expanded my ministry outside of the boundaries of what I would have thought I was allowed to do. Ten years ago I would have said, “A woman shouldn’t do that”—-now God’s called me to do it! Still, there was a part of me that just wasn’t sure and wondered if the teaching I grew up with regarding limitations on a woman’s calling didn’t hold a grain of truth.
As I continued mulling the issue in my mind and in prayer, one word kept coming back into my mind. The word was “calling.”
I believe this word is key when it comes not just to the topic of women in ministry, but really all of the issues that women struggle with regarding their roles in life.
Why is “calling” so important? Because “Calling” puts the responsibility on God to decide who is “allowed” to do what in His kingdom. It frees us from this burden and allows us to be free to follow God’s call on our lives.
From this perspective, I have come to believe that a woman can do whatever God has called her to do.
Of course, this change in perspective carried with it the enormous responsibility of seeking God’s will for our lives rather than simply making choices on our own.
This is a very important distinction because we live in a society that tells us that women have unlimited choices in their lives. We can have any life we choose and have everything we want.
Yet, as a Christian, I don’t see where this concept of choice is Biblical. Instead, I believe that as Christians we all have a calling—a purpose God wants us to fulfill. Rather than being able to choose what we want to do, I believe it is our responsibility to spend time earnestly and actively seeking God’s will for our lives.
As 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “He died for everyone so that those who receive this new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” (NLT)
That’s why it is so important that as followers of Christ, we willingly accept the responsibility to seek God’s will for our lives. Practically, this means that we don’t just make decisions based on what society says is normal, what everyone else is doing or even on what we want to do with our lives. Instead, every choice that we make in our lives needs to be proceeded with prayer and a passionate pursuit that asks “Heavenly Father, what do You want to do with my life? Which road do you want me to take so that I will continue to walk in your unique calling for my life?”
I truly believe that as we pray and spend time seeking God’s will, then God will be faithful to show us which choice each on of us needs to make to follow the unique calling that He has for our lives.
I also believe it’s important that we understand that everyone has a “unique calling”. God doesn’t call us all to do the same thing, yet no calling is any more or less valuable than another. They are all equal because they all come from God and they all fulfill God’s unique plan for the life of a specific individual.
It also means that we are not called to sit in judgment or criticism over what God has called another person to do. Really, it is none of our business. Instead, each of us needs to take on the personal responsibility to make sure that we are “following Jesus”.
Each of us needs to choose to seek God’s will in each area of our lives and obey the unique calling He gives us. When we have truly sought God’s will and we can say with a clear conscience, “I believe that this is what God has called me to do with my life,” then I believe that we are free to do whatever He has called us to do without restriction.
Going hand in hand with that, we need to allow other women the same freedom to follow their own unique, God-given calling in life. Rather than criticizing them, being jealous of them, or trying to tear each other down, we need to be supporting each other believing that God is using each of us to play our unique role in building God’s kingdom.
So what can a woman do in God’s kingdom?
Anything He calls her to do.
The question is, “Are you passionately pursuing your calling?”