It’s good to be a female pastor in the Vineyard. I’ve been leading a Vineyard church plant for a year and a half, and when I got started, I didn’t really want to make a big deal of the fact that I am a woman. I know that being in leadership as a woman still isn’t allowed in all sectors of the church, but my gender had never really felt like an issue for me in ministry, and I honestly didn’t think it was worth mentioning now. In fact, when people would bring it up, I would scoff and say that what I looked like was totally irrelevant—that I could be a gorilla and still do this job if Jesus was calling me to do it.
But then other women started coming up to me when I was visiting my sending church to tell me how inspiring and encouraging it was for them to see me leading a church. These were women who would have loved to participate in ministry, but it had never been an option for them when they were my age, or in the church where they were raised. And my attitude began to change as I began to realize what a rare and new privilege it is that for me, being a woman has never posed a significant barrier for me in anything I wanted to do. I’m humbled to know how many have pioneered ahead of me to make this the case. And I’m honored that God chose me to stand in this position.
But when I was wondering if God was calling me to be the pastor of this church, even though being a woman didn’t faze me, there were many other things about myself that did worry me a lot.
Being single was a big one. I know that Jesus was single and Paul was single. But that didn’t stop me from worrying about me being single. When I thought about pastoring a church as a single person, it seemed too hard, too lonely. When you don’t have a staff or a spouse and something difficult happens, who do you talk to? How do you relate to (in my case) the majority of people who do have a spouse and kids—figuring out how to be friends with people in a different life stage had
Or my personal flaws: there were plenty of those to choose from. I’m too lazy, or too disorganized, or too much of a people-pleaser, or too…the list goes on. How could I ever lead a church? Why would Jesus call me?
But that’s the thing about Jesus—none of these things are obstacles to him, regardless of how I feel about them. My singleness and my sins and weaknesses weren’t any more of a problem than my being female was. All the things that I and others perceive as hurdles are levelled to the ground at the foot of the cross. Instead of hurdles, Jesus presents us with an opportunity—“Will you allow me to make you fit to lead? Will you let me grow and stretch you into the proper shape for the job?”
And if God has chosen me—not at random, not just anybody, but specifically me—who am I to argue?
So in one sense, it’s not about us at all. I was right—I could have been a gorilla and done this job if that’s what God was up to. He used a donkey before, after all. But in another sense, it is about us—about God choosing us, specifically, with all our problems and weaknesses and disqualifications, for his church and for his glory. And if God has chosen me—not at random, not just anybody, but specifically me—who am I to argue?
The point of all this is that I’m certain some of you reading this have felt God tugging at you to answer his call—to plant a church, or start a ministry, or lead worship, or start a small group, or go tell your neighbor about Jesus—but you’ve dismissed his voice. You’ve disqualified yourself before you even began. Maybe it’s your age, or your socio-economic level, or a criminal record, or your fear of public speaking or whatever.
But maybe that thing is the very thing God wants to use to bring himself glory. Maybe your “disqualification” is what God wants to use to bring hope to someone else. So my request is this: If there’s something in God’s kingdom that you’ve looked at and thought “I could never do that because…,” would you stop for a minute, and try seriously asking God if maybe that thing you think you can’t do is actually something he’s made you to do?
If you’re interested in helping to empower all kinds of people become active players in God’s kingdom, you might want to sign up for our upcoming webinar on raising up women leaders in the Vineyard. Or check out this excellent webinar from our archives on developing a diverse church.
Becky Pechek is a staff writer for the Multiply Vineyard team. She also pastors the Iron Range Vineyard church in the north woods of Minnesota.