March 15, 2013

Women in Ministry: Bright and Salty and All That Jesus Jazz



Jessica Bowman writes with honesty, humor, and courage. (She also reminded me of my best pantyhose/ministry story. [Okay, my ONLY pantyhose/ministry story.])


Normally I would never volunteer to write for a series with such a name as this one. The phrase “Women In Ministry” itself brings one of two images to my mind. The first involves ladies in pantyhose teaching Sunday School (have I mentioned my Baptist background lately?). The second are the Jesus feminists, blazing a trail for us all to follow, with Jesus at their lead.

I sit sort of passively, sort of ambiguously, between these two extremes. So at first glance it would seem as though I don’t have much to offer on the subject of women in ministry. But darling, brave Katherine (probably knowing full-well the stereotypes that such a series would produce in the mind’s eye) cut off my fears before I had time to voice them with this:

“You need not be working in a church. Writing is ministry! Family is ministry! Telling the truth is ministry! Kicking ass and taking names is ministry!”

That got me thinking. Really, I suppose ministry in its most organic form is simply living. Living true, living well. Living bright and salty and all that Jesus jazz.

Which you might think would alleviate my insecurities, but no. If anything, it makes me feel like even more like a ministry failure. If ministry was defined by pantyhose or being a church staff member, if the art of ministry were so black and white as all that, I could reduce it to a to-do list. I could check off a couple of concrete items and be set. Pantyhose – check. Leadership conference – check. Staff meeting – check. I win!

But life? Yeesh, that’s a bit broad, isn’t it? If life is a timeline then I’m stalking up and down it with my yellow highlighter circling the lazy bits, the impatient spots, the stumbles and depressions. I tend to reduce my life to the negatives, the failures, the glass half empties. Then I bottle up all those unsavory bottom lines, pour them into the mason jar of my existence and label it “Me”. Tada, Jessica. You kind of suck.

Needless to say, at no point in my days do I consider myself to have a successful ministry of any kind. Sure, I’m a mother but, ya know, I stink at it a lot of the time. Sure, I’m a writer but, ya know, not a fantastic one or anything. Other people are doing all of the above with more grace and finesse than I could ever muster.

Somewhere deep down I realize this is a false dichotomy. Just because someone else is more successful doesn’t mean I’m a failure. Just because sometimes I fall doesn’t mean there isn’t merit in dusting myself off and starting again.

And honestly, those people who I think are doing so much better than I am? They’re probably playing the same fruitless game on their timeline, highlighting the crappy bits, erasing the moments of grace as inconsequential, assuming the worst in themselves and the best in others.

The truth is (deep breathe), sometimes I don’t suck. Sometimes (dare I say it?) I kick ass. Sometimes I get intensely kind emails, messages, and notes from people who claim to have been blessed by my words, blessed by my “ministry”.

Usually, for the sake of self-flagellation and the ever important avoidance of the deadly sin of pride, I brush away these affirmations like pesky flies. With a side of “What are they smoking?” Then I give myself a little anti-pep talk about not letting these sorts of things go to my head and I assure myself that if the note senders “really” knew me they’d get crushed by my big fat pedestal as it toppled from glory.
But once in awhile, on a good day, when I’m just the right combination of vulnerable and confident, a little bird of the air flits through my defenses and lands squarely on the shoulder where that guy in the halo camps out. And, just for a moment, I believe I have worth. I believe that God cares about silly little things like my blog(s).

So, yeah. I guess I am a woman in ministry. Even when I refuse to believe it. Even when I fail.
Even though I don’t own pantyhose.

About Today's Contributor: Jessica is an aspiring writer, gentle-parenting, grace-extending, deep-breath-taking nearly 30 year old. She and her family of 6 have lived in 3 countries, 4 states, and both coasts in the past decade or so, recently selling everything they owned and moving to British Columbia to follow God’s latest leading. In her “free” time she loves (hula) hooping and watching mindless television on Netflix. Because she’s classy like that. You can find her blogging at Bohemian Bowmans.




About the Women in Ministry Series 
The Women in Ministry Series is a collection of guest posts that aims to provide an alternative to the women in ministry debates by telling the stories of women in ministry and encourage women to explore their God-given callings.

Contributions Welcome: Contact Katherine at katherinepershey[at]gmail.com to pitch your post idea in 2-4 sentences. You can stay updated on the latest post each week by signing up for the weekly e-mail list.

Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome to leave a comment. However, this series takes for granted that women are called by God into every facet of ministry. This is not the place to debate that point and such comments will be removed. Women have been told “no” in far too many places. This is one place that is committed to saying “yes.”

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