I’m a Lady Preacher, Called & Qualified


abby norman - a lady preacher, called and qualified-3

I didn’t know that you have to order the collar separately. When my black shirt with the white collar came in the mail, it didn’t have a white collar. It had a space to add the one I was supposed to order separately. But I didn’t know that. I’ve never done this before. I’ve never gone to a church where the pastor wears a robe or a collar. I didn’t know they came separately. Who sells shirts and collars separately? (The church, apparently.) How could I possibly know that?

I wasn’t so generous with myself when the box came from Amazon. Even though I ordered my clothes about a month before I needed them, pulling the black shirts, sans white collar, out of the box made me feel totally inadequate.

If I couldn’t even get my clergy shirt right, how was I going to pastor this church? Surely I was not qualified. What were they thinking putting me in charge?

This wasn’t the first time I’ve felt like this. This is not the first time I’ve looked around the room to see who had been put in charge, only to discover it was me! Who decided that was a good idea?

Did you know that if a man is 50 percent qualified for a task he will volunteer for it? A woman has to be between 70 to 100 percent qualified before it occurs to her that she is capable of doing the job. After being overlooked again and again, we women start overlooking ourselves, leaving us to wonder if we are qualified for the jobs we’re called to. We see normal growing pains as signs we’ve chosen the wrong path.

This is hurting the church and the world. We need more women to decide they are qualified.

Right now I’m in seminary. Many men are in their early twenties and sure of the ways of the world and that they have all the answers for the aches of this world. Most of the women are in their thirties. We talk slower, raise our hands more tentatively, and vocalize how often we are not sure. If the professor asks what we think, the women in the room have the tendency to look around and see who else has something to say. It seems that after years of waving our hand in the air and being ignored, we women put it down and decide that someone else must have something better to say.

I wonder when that happened. I’m raising two audacious daughters who think they’re completely capable of doing anything they please. They want to learn to sew, and run, and ride horses, and drive cars. They get dressed up, make up a song, and demand I video tape it and put it on Facebook. They are so sure, so confident that they are qualified to do whatever they please. If they want to do it, it must mean they are capable. If they make a mistake, they try again. It has never occurred to them that they are not qualified to do something. Of course they can!

I am qualified to pastor this church I have been appointed to. I was an English teacher for ten years with classroom sizes bigger than my current congregation. I spent years competing at speech tournaments. Sermon writing is totally my thing. I am good at making phone calls and making sure people feel seen and loved. I have creative revitalization ideas for days. And most importantly, I am sure God has called me to this work. GOD calls me qualified, so what else could I possibly need?

I don’t have to know you order the collar and the attachment pieces separately. I don’t have to know how to do every single thing. I am learning, we are learning. Women aren’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t qualified.

Abby Norman
Abby Norman lives, and loves in the city of Atlanta. She lives with her two hilarious children and a husband that doubles as her biggest fan. When not mothering, teaching, parenting or “wifeing”, she blogs at accidentaldevotional.com. Abby loves to make up words and is excited by the idea that Miriam Webster says you can verb things.
Abby Norman

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  1. Deborah Hudson says:

    We’re all learning, aren’t we? And you are helping to show us the way. Keep leading, Abby!

  2. Heidi Mann says:

    Abby, I served for about 14 years as an ELCA pastor and I NEVER would have expected the collars to need to be bought apart from the shirts! Every clergy blouse I ordered (albeit not through Amazon — through Almy, or Augsburg Fortress) came with one tab collar. Now maybe the full-circle collar shirts are different? Or maybe when you ask “Who sells collars separate from shirts?” the answer isn’t “The Church!” but “Amazon, those dimwits!!”

    More importantly, I loved your post here! I think this applies to women in SO many areas, and you did a great job summing it up and encouraging us to trust God’s callings upon our lives and not worry about being perfect. I would add, near the end of your piece where you say “Women aren’t perfect,” “Neither are men!” Thanks for sharing!

  3. You give me such hope and you make me braver. Thank you for sharing your collar story and that conviction that rises up and up and up through your words. So so good. C’MON!

  4. Mark Allman says:


    I know you will do whatever you put your efforts into well. I know you have a great skill set but I also think you have the one ingredient that is missing from some and that is a willingness to do what you are led to do. The willingness to put yourself out there and to pick up rocks no else will touch puts you on a path of success. I always tried to convince my daughters that they could do anything that wanted to and to pursue it and do it well. Regardless what vocation they pursued I also wanted them to believe strongly that could be the person that God wanted them to be which was much more important than their chosen vocation.

    I have always admired your writing and I am sure you are able to share those thoughts you have with others in ways that will make impacts on their lives for the better.

    Collar or not!!

  5. sandyhay says:

    There has never been a doubt to me, ever since I started reading your blogs here…you are qualified!!!!!

  6. Stephanie Reeves says:

    Well said. Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s very enlightening to actually notice what’s going on in classes such as yours. Not only does God calling you qualified mean you don’t need more, it also means that whatever anyone else says about it doesn’t matter. Who are they to question what God qualifies. May you constantly feel His presence as you take on this huge task.

  7. Beverly Wooden says:

    Love just knowing you live in Atlanta…..makes me feel like friend and neighbor. Would you mind giving the name of the church of which you are/will be pastor? Maybe I’ll drop in sometime since I live probably 2 hours (or less) away.

  8. I simply love you Abby! Thank you for writing these words! And thank you for being faithful to the work you are called to do!

  9. This is likely to be the most shallow of all possible comments, but I do love those collars. Even though I don’t come from a tradition in which they are de rigueur, I think they are valuable as a visual aid to the church and to the surrounding community. I have no doubt that you will wear yours well . . . and that whatever you are doing with your daughters is apparently working!


  1. […] heard loud and clear that I was supposed to take a week off for recovery. I found someone else to preach for me and stayed on my couch for a week, even getting other people to pick up my kids and feed them […]

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