I’ll never forget the day when my husband told me he had to go on a trip, so he needed me to teach our Bible Study group. To him it seemed like such a simple request. When I promptly told him I wasn’t going to teach it, he was quite taken aback and became insistent that this was something he really needed me to do. He also assured me that I was completely capable of leading the Bible study. Again, I flatly refused and I remember saying rather defiantly that he “couldn’t make me.”
He looked at me in disbelief and asked, “Are you ok with disobeying God?”
I couldn’t believe he dared to say those words to me, but it did get my attention. To say John and I have had some tempestuous conversations is a gross understatement, even if the conversation was about teaching the Bible. That was well over 30 years ago and thankfully a lot has changed in our lives and marriage.
I was completely intimidated by the thought of teaching the Bible, especially if there were men in the room. I was raised in a church environment where I had never seen or experienced women teaching. Breaking through this cultural norm I grew up with was terrifying and it required me to be willing to rise beyond the fear to step boldly into a place where God was calling me.
So many fears had dictated and shaped my sense of inadequacy and I allowed these negative thoughts to rule.
I am a woman.
I don’t know the Bible well enough.
I might disappoint.
I could fail.
Looking back on every fear that was expressed in my excuses, I realize every one was focused on me, not on others, or on Jesus. I did end up teaching that Bible Study group. I struggled through every moment of it and many more to follow, but I am forever grateful for my husband seeing something in me and calling me out to rise above my fears and misguided understanding of my place as a woman in ministry.
I had to choose to be bold to bring about change.
I didn’t know back then that one day I would be a leader, a pastor, an author, a radio and television host and be called to stand on many platforms at home and around the world. But I do know today that the obedience it took to finally say yes to teaching eight people in my living room was the catalyst needed to move me forward into a future that was waiting for me. I know now that there were actually multitudes waiting for me on the other side of my obedience. I just needed to say “yes” to a God-invitation.
What felt like such a big personal challenge, paved a pathway of change for so many others. My own three daughters, granddaughters, the many women and men in our church and beyond have seen a culture where a woman’s voice and contribution is highly esteemed, valued and needed. The people in my immediate world hardly notice whether a man or a woman is teaching, leading worship, ushering, running the television cameras, serving dinner or serving in our awesome children’s ministry. We are all under the same mission where, ‘”In Christ there is neither male nor female,” as we serve our Saviour together in a spirit of love and unity. (Galatians 3:28)
My personal challenge wasn’t with trying to find a place for my voice or ministry, but to be willing to step into the spaces that were wide open for me to enter into. I realize everyone has a unique calling and with it comes unique challenges and opposition, but it will be our courage to enter into those places that defines us or defeats us. I know that I could have chosen to allow my sense of inadequacy to frame my choices. I could have sat down and missed the opportunities that were waiting for me.
In this season of my life, I expect to do more than I have ever done before. I am not looking for a good book and a beach to lie on or a cruise ship to take me away. I will enjoy that from time to time, but there is so much important work to be done and I want to be fully awake and fully engaged with the call and mission that God has placed on my life. I am not content to simply lay down or give up, abdicating my place for a life of comfort or ease.
I am encouraged by the charge in Romans 12:1-2 to place my life before Christ. I choose to live bolder and more invested than ever to Kingdom endeavor and purpose. This world feels like it is spinning out of control in a hurry and yet in the midst of the madness, there is room for each of us to rise up, be bold and bring about change. Your voice matters, your heartfelt prayers matter, your love-in-action matters, overcoming your fears and complacency matters. Every single choice you make today matters and it is directing your life. I wonder where the choice is taking you? Is it taking you to where God is calling to forward today?