Written By: Cristina Myers
A woman in ministry. What does that even look like? I know what I thought it was supposed to look like. And let me tell you this, when ministry found me I was in for a rude awakening. Yes, funny how that happens. When I surrendered my life to Jesus I had a very skewed, or maybe romanticized, view of what ministry was. You see, my whole life I loved children. I loved watching them, taking care of them, and playing with them. I even worked as a preschool teacher when I was in college. I love, love, loved it! You get the idea, right?
So naturally, when it came time to serve the Lord I assumed that’s where He would call me to serve Him. I put on my rose coloured glasses and my first attempt at ministry was a stint in the church’s children’s ministry. Though it was fine and fun, I never felt that children’s ministry was what the Lord had for me. Then one day, our youth pastor got on stage and talked about the need for volunteers on Monday nights and I eagerly decided to serve with the youth group. I was leading a small group of high school girls and I loved it. The Lord started preparing me for what would be my true calling and life mission through this season. Each week as I met with these girls, they would shape me as much as I shaped them. I was getting close, oh so close, but still when that season of serving was over I felt no loss or longing, just a sense of mission accomplished.
So I continued to seek the Lord. I grew in my faith. I had no expectations or aspirations to pursue ‘formal” ministry. This was probably because I was not raised knowing anything about ministry. To be totally and honest I had never even heard of the word ministry until I started attending the inter-denominational church where I met and fell in love with the Lord at. Oh but soon I would learn. I would learn quickly and abruptly that there was a line drawn in the sand when it came to women and ministry.
You were either in or you were out.
“Say what?!” you ask. I know, I know … I was a little confused too. So let me back up a minute and give you the background info. How can someone go from never even fully understanding what ministry was to feeling totally unqualified, excluded, and shunned from what I now call the Sorority of “Women in Ministry”.
It all started innocently enough, with a Facebook post. Like most modern day dramas, it all started with Facebook. I remember the day so clearly, that as I sit and type this I realize that my heart must still hurt over this. That there’s more healing that must need to take place. But I’m rambling, so let me get back to my story. I was scrolling down my news feed and a friend of mine (a pastor’s wife, lovely both inside and out) posted about an upcoming conference; she shared the details with the link. I can’t remember who the main speaker was at the time, but I do remember that it was a speaker I had told my other friend about. I was excited to share with my friend just to say, “Hey, this is that lady I told you about”. So without thinking twice, I tagged my friend in the comments with a note along the lines of, “so and so, check this out”. I proceeded to log off of Facebook and go on with my day. When I did this I didn’t think anything of it or the other women that might have been tagged in the post. Nor did I notice who was hosting the event. All of that was irrelevant to me because like I said earlier, I was just pointing out something to my friend, kind of like how I would point out a car, handbag, or beautiful house I like with no actual intention of buying it. No foul, no harm. Right?
Oh boy was I wrong. Little did I know I was about to be schooled in the Sorority of “Women in Ministry”. Later that evening I saw the red dot of suspense, I mean the notification dot. Facebook so kindly informed me that a prominent woman in ministry in my community had tagged me in a comment. I was curious to see what she had tagged me in, as we weren’t close but I admired her greatly. And then came the burn. She had pointed out very publicly and pointedly (remember she tagged me with my first and last name) that the event I had commented on was ONLY for pastor’s wives and “women in ministry”. Ouch.
I was confused, mad (fuming actually), and hurt. I had no clap back. All I had was the feeling of being sucker punched and the conversation in my head that went something like this:
- Who are you to say I’m not a woman in ministry?
- I didn’t know there was a special club for these “special women” and the rest of us were not invited.
- If my place in the caste system was so low that I’m not even allowed to comment on a post, why would I want to do ministry anyway?
- I didn’t want to go to your stupid event anyway!!!!
These four thoughts went in and out, up and down, and around my head for hours, maybe even days. Then I realized something, my anger was just masking the very real and raw emotion that I didn’t want to face, REJECTION. I had come from a community of believers that were accepting and loved and celebrated me just as I was. A community where I didn’t even realize that what I was doing was “ministry”. I just wanted to serve the Lord and the church gave me the opportunity. Other than passing a background check to be able to work with kids and youth, nothing else was required of me. But now…now I found myself wading in unknown waters. I never in a million years would have thought that the Body of Christ would be so exclusive, elitist, and clique-y.
So what was I to do? How was I to reconcile this rejection with my heart’s desire of serving the Lord? More importantly, how would the passion I had to help women discover their true identity in Christ, be affected by this? How when it was the same women who I thought were on my team were the ones to reject me? But God.
God. G-O-D. My Father, My Redeemer, My Healer, My Vindicator, My Hero, and My Everything. He was so good to me. If He loved me, and I knew He did, I could face anything. I could move past this rejection. He could heal the wounds from that painful sting and use that very wound to start a fire in my soul. You see, instead of allowing that seed of rejection grow and fester into bitterness, He changed my heart. He gave me grace. Grace for me and grace for those who never realized they had hurt me. And that fire that began to burn that day was the fire that fuels the passion for my life ministry, helping women know their identity in Christ so that they may live the purpose and call God has for their lives. I learned something so vital and so essential from the moment of that pivotal Facebook post:
Ministry is not something that you do. Ministry is not something that you are in. Ministry is a way of life.
You, beautiful woman of God, child of the Most High King, have been called to a life of service, a life consecrated unto Him, a life of ministry. What does that look like? It’s not Wednesday morning Bible Study, it’s not greeting at the church, serving in the kid’s ministry, attending conferences, writing a blog, speaking, preaching, or singing on a stage. I mean it can be all these things but sweet sister, it is SO MUCH MORE.
It’s the way you smile at the new girl who just walked into church for the first time, it’s staying up late to help your husband study for his Board Exams, it’s feeding the homeless, it’s taking your daughter shopping or drying her tears after her first heartbreak, it’s praying for your coworker who doesn’t know the Lord, it’s giving a check to the family in your community who just lost it all, it’s loving on the unlovable, and sometimes it’s just making it through the day when you think you can’t go on.
We are not part of the Sorority of “Women in Ministry”. We are the community of women living our ministries.
The other night, I was on Facebook and I felt the Holy Spirit wanting me to share on the topic of ministry. If I can leave you with one thought on ministry it would be this:
As I sit here I reflect on this thing we call “ministry”. Man, this is totally not what I signed up for. It’s harder, messier, more complicated, and absurd than I could ever imagine.
It’s also the most beautiful display and dance of God’s love I’ve ever seen in action. So now what? So now I dance. I dance in the sunshine. I dance in the rain. I dance in the storms. When I’m drowning I give in and dance in the water until He gently and so gracefully lifts me up. I float and bask in His presence until he gently brings me to shore. And then? And then, my friends I get up and dance again. But this time I find someone to dance with, someone who hasn’t heard a song in a very long time, the one who needs to dance the pounding of the heartbeat God has placed in the core of their being. And then we dance and dance some more. We bring others along with us as the love of the Father shines down on us all. And this, this is the beautiful imagery of ministry in action.
It’s not about a 501c(3). It’s not about a building. It’s not about a board of directors or trustees. It’s about relationship. It’s about love. Our relationship with our Father overwhelming us to the brink so that nothing but love can pour out to those around us. It can be your family. It can be your workplace. It might be your sick husband or the mother in law you think you hate. It’s the smile to the stranger. The sandwich to the homeless man lying filthy on the street. It can be all of this and so much more. It is all of this and nothing less.
Do not despise where you are at. Do not crave position. Do not orchestrate a platform. Just be. Receive. Dance. Love.
This is ministry my friends. Nothing more and nothing less.
Don’t love to be loved. Love because you are loved.
It’s messy, it’s rewarding, it’s complicated, and sweet. It’s not a club, sorority, or clique. It’s me and it’s you. Don’t give up. Keep on truckin’. Keep on keepin’ on. You are worth it. You are called. The world needs you because the world needs more women living in ministry, not just “women in ministry”.
Cristina Myers is a mother, sister, wife, sometimes a hot mess, Texas transplant, Oxford comma loving, daughter of the Most High King. Originally from the tropical of Puerto Rico, she now calls the beautiful Texas Hill Country home. With copious amounts of Starbucks as fuel, Cristina tries to balance working outside of the home, chasing a toddler, and spreading the passion for prayer though WNOPtribe ministries. She’s passionate about helping women discover their true identity in Christ so they can walk in their purpose and calling.