Overwhelmingly, the women I have interviewed believe they have been encouraged by God to engage more deeply in a life of faith and to use their gifts more fully as leaders in the church. Conversations about “women’s rights” with regard to leadership have been sparse. It has been an incredible privilege to hear women leaders tell their stories of how they have experienced God’s invitation to participate in God’s mission.
When asked about what the Bible say about whether women may lead in the church, St. Paul Area Synod Bishop Patricia Lull said, “The basis for my ministry was not in me or in my ego but in the work of Jesus Christ.” I asked Bishop Lull, the first woman bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod, why there are so many more women are in positions of leadership in the past few years:
Bishop Lull shared that it was not until her internship experience in her third year of seminary that she recognized her call:
“When I entered seminary I had never heard a woman preach. I am grateful that there were others - family members and professors, church members and peers - who saw gifts in me that I could not yet see. I thought I would become a teacher. My experience working in congregations, especially on internship, made clear that God’s call was that I serve as a pastor.”
As I work through the many hours of videotape from the past five months, listening for common themes, I have not yet been able to neatly categorize God’s call to people. Often, it takes people a period of years to recognize God’s invitation to them. For others, they perceive it directly and immediately.
Have you experienced God calling you into a deeper relationship with God? These experiences can be hard to explain to others. Stay tuned as I keep logging tape, listening and learning from others who are gracious to share their faith journey with us.