A real Superman is not afraid to stand next to a Superwoman!
~ author unknown ~
Having used the ‘s’ word at least twice in yesterday’s post, and talking about biblical gender roles, I didn’t get as much backlash as I expected. Today, I’m swinging the other direction and tackling the topic of men encouraging women in areas of leadership that God has called us to.
Not all women are interested in leadership, though that doesn’t necessarily stop God from calling us and saying, “There’s something I need you to do. You are called and equipped–are you willing?”
When God called me into ministry, I was still in the Mennonite culture, wearing a white bonnet and other cultural attire. Understanding the culture, I was quite confident that I must be hearing wrong, and decided to adjust God’s call to fit the culture. I determined that I was called to go to church leadership and ask for permission to plan a seminar, offering sessions for abuse victims–specifically sexual abuse–and I would organize for wives of leaders to speak.
The bishop and his wife were compassionate and heard us, when Tim and I went to speak to them. But the end result was that it couldn’t happen. This meant seeking God, again, and trying to make sense of this radical calling, in a culture where it couldn’t happen.
After a few years, when I was finally confident that I had heard God right, I told Tim that I think the call to ministry is more personal than I was trying to make it. But that meant leaving the culture–not a small thing. There were other things playing into our decision, but mostly Tim and I stood in agreement that whatever ministry we were called to, God needed us to make that change, so we did.
For ten years we prayed, waited, battled, and prayed some more. Some days I had wrestling matches with God, other days I was at peace. Some days I wanted to throw the dream and the calling back at Him, some days I thought I did, but always I found myself ‘knowing’ it would be reality, in God’s time, God’s way.
And then it happened.
I started doing conferences and public speaking. As I did, God brought support people into my life. Women who prayed with me and for me. Women who encouraged, listened and had my back in so many ways! And it meant the world to me that I was not alone.
However, it was the role men played that empowered me more than I could have imagined. Tim was the first to empower me, but that is such a cool story that I will blog about it another time.
I stood at the back of the church, a few feet away from several pastors and leaders. It was Thursday night pre-conference prayer time, for a Faith Girls Unleashed (FGU) event. I knew I needed to get the meeting started, still, as I watched the men interact, a niggling fear ate at my gut. The whole ‘leadership thing’ intimidated me slightly, especially when it required directing gentlemen, let alone pastors.
Years had passed since the days when I was emotionally traumatized by spiritually abusive leaders, in that little room, watching them write my sins in their little black book. Twenty years, at least. But the subconscious remembers for a long time. How could I lead? I wasn’t a leader. But, there was a task at hand, and it was my responsibility.
I took a deep breath, walked over, and said, “Excuse me, gentlemen, it’s time to get this meeting started.”
Politely, they stopped talking and turned toward me. I felt suddenly vulnerable and instinctively giggled, as I do when I am nervous, and added, “It is still a bit daunting to tell a group of men, let alone pastors, what to do.”
One pastor looked me in the eye and spoke with affirmation, “Trudy, God has called you to lead in this area. We are here under your leadership.” With a chuckle he added that pastors don’t really know what to do with the whole topic of sexual abuse and are happy to default leadership to me. “You are the one who can speak into this, we don’t know how.”
That scenario was the fourth time a pastor had affirmed my calling that way, and assured me that, within the context of our ministry, they were placed under my authority and my leadership. It was a humbling thought, and yet empowering as I realized that God was affirming my calling.
….to be Continued….
© Trudy Metzger 2012
Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/