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.