After a few comical conversations over the past few weeks, a friend of mine told me I should write a post about being single, female, and in ministry. So. Without further ado…here are my Top 5 responses in regards to this subject:
1. You are correct- my ring finger is bare.
I had a very nice, well-meaning, elderly woman say to me once, “Oh honey, I noticed your ring finger is bare! Don’t you have a special someone yet?” Correct, you would definitely notice my ring finger on my left hand, being that I am a guitarist as well as a vocalist, so it’s an innocent observation…but not even my response of “Not yet…in God’s timing” was enough to shake her off the scent. I think that sometimes, those who have been married for many years (and were married so young at that!) don’t think about how they’re coming across in these more sensitive situations. Fortunately, I tend to be the type to smile and nod when needed, and try to divert the conversation into more shallow waters at that point, but the implication that I was obviously lacking something (or in this case, someone) stung just a bit.
2. My leadership capabilities are just as strong as the married guy my age.
While this would never be an issue in the corporate world (in fact, this would be frowned upon and considered highly sexist), it’s a reality in the church world, that men are still often regarded as spiritually stronger, smarter, and more leadership-oriented than women (a hold-over from years of misinterpretation and misuse of Biblical truths!). I know this is dangerous territory, and I honestly don’t feel like defending my Jesus-based feminism at the moment, but just know that I stand firm against inequality and spiritual abuse of power. And women are called to look, live and love like Jesus just as men are called. God uses the single, young female in ministry in powerful ways…just as He uses the married young man, the widowed elderly lady, the divorced mom, the seasoned male pastor…people from ALL walks of life, with different gifts and abilities that He can use for His purposes. We ALL have important and valuable input in ministry.
3. No- I do not need you to “claim” me for your unmarried son.
The fact that I even need to say that…!
4. Yes, women are actually allowed to be leaders in the church.
I love being a part of the Free Methodist denomination. And the high respect and treatment that women in leadership are given within the denomination is incredible to me, especially coming from a church background where it was considered morally wrong for a woman to be a pastor or in high leadership within the church. I take being a Worship Director very seriously, and find myself in some situations that are considered “pastoral” at times, which serves as a HUGE reminder that I do not do any of this on my own…it’s the Holy Spirit working through me and God using me, even when I honestly don’t understand why…and I feel very privileged to be where I’m at in this season of my life.
5. Yes…actually, I am happy. Thanks for asking.
Ten years ago, I was sure I’d be married with a baby on my hip by this point. I never saw my life turning out the way it has. I can honestly say that yes, I sincerely hope that being a wife and a mom is in my future, but I am also at the point in my life where God’s will is really all that I want. I want His guidance, His direction, and His perfect plan. He knows what’s best, and all I need to do is trust and wait on Him. Is it easy? No. Some days are very hard, lonely and trying of my emotions. But the opportunity that I have right now to be used by God in ways that He couldn’t use me if I was in that next season is what I focus on and put my energies into.
So. Are you a young, single female trying to navigate ministry and the pressures of fitting into the old-school box of “church” expectations and culture? Don’t let it bother you. People will always have opinions and ideas of how you should be living your life. But if you’re following God’s tug on your heart, and walking in your calling…then stand up tall and proud, girl. You are not incomplete or any less important in His eyes! He’s got you right where you need to be.