Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Guest post from blogger and all round great thought leader, Jory Micah, in response to my original blog Lids Are For Lifting
About a year ago God spoke to my heart and told me to leave my Children’s Pastor position in Virginia Beach and start my own women’s ministry. I had sort of fallen into children’s ministry because it was the only ministry job I could get in the Church to be quite honest. I was the only female on pastoral staff, had the highest level of education out of everyone (including the lead pastor), got paid the least, and had the least amount of authority.
No one goes into ministry hoping to make “the big bucks” but I began to notice a pattern in the Church that greatly disturbed me. The men I worked with were good men who really did care about me, but we were all subject to a patriarchal system and it seemed there was nothing anyone could do about it. “This is just the way it is,” I told myself for two years. Nevermind the fact that my immediate male boss, who I adore, did not study theology and I did. Nevermind that his salary most likely doubled mine and I had thousands of dollars in debt from seminary and he had no seminary debt. Nevermind that in two years I was only asked to preach on the mainstage for 10 minutes. Nevermind that I never felt called to children’s ministry in the first place.
Get it together Jory, I would tell myself daily. You can’t afford to quit this job! No one is going to hire a female to do anything but children’s ministry. You wasted your life. Why would you pursue higher ed in theology? Nobody wants your expertise. Nobody cares that you were born to be a leader. So many believe your calling is a sham and that God only calls men to be leaders in the Church. You will never get out of student loan debt. You will have to be a children’s pastor for the rest of your life. There is no way out.
The fearful thoughts were endless. I had no idea how to do what God called me to do in a world that saw me as “less than” because I am a woman.
I found myself becoming more and more depressed. I felt stuck in a position I did not want. The worst part about it was that I was so darn good at it which further embedded me in it. I have always been a strong leader. I have never had to try to be influential. I just was. Within a year I had turned a dying children’s ministry into the most vibrant ministry in the church. I had no problem getting volunteers and everyone who has ever been involved in children’s ministry knows that getting volunteers is like the movie “Mission Impossible.” God used my leadership gifts and had me in that position for a purpose. But when it was time to go, it was time to go.
I went to my husband, Luke, and told him that I could no longer be a children’s pastor and that I felt like God was telling me to start my own women’s ministry. Luke is nothing if not a practical man and this idea scared him a bit because we needed a second income. It scared me too, but I was more afraid of becoming even more depressed than I already was and missing out on my life purpose. Luke and I developed a plan. We moved out of our beachfront apartment and into a tiny, inland apartment that would allow us to sign a 6 month lease. Luke began to apply for jobs in my hometown near Pittsburgh, PA where we could live with my folks for a while, and I gave my job a 3 month notice so they could find a replacement for me and I could help train someone new.
Within God’s timing, He provided me a way out. The church found a replacement for me, my husband found a job near my hometown, and my parents had just bought a bigger house that could easily fit Luke and I temporarily. I had no idea what God meant by “start a women’s ministry.” It’s not like I had a dime to my name, so I began a blog. Within four months of me starting this blog, best selling Christian author Frank Viola took notice and put me on his personal “top female bloggers” list. Around the same time, my work was featured on the new egalitarian blog, The Junia Project. Not long after that, I had the privilege of hosting best selling Christian author, Sarah Bessey, as I interviewed her over her book Jesus Feminist. I was also asked to preach a couple times in my hometown due to my blog. In less than one year, I had preached more times (to adults) off a pastoral staff than the two years I had been on a pastoral staff.
Just a couple weeks ago one of my professors from Bible School found me on Facebook. I had not spoken to him for about 10 years, but he saw my blog and wanted to tell me how proud he was of me and that he was no longer a complementarian. He also asked me if I would be interested in teaching college and that he would try to set me up with an online theology class. I am not 100 percent sure yet if this opportunity will pan out, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I am doing what God has called me to do and that He will make a way for me where there seems to be no way.
Dear sisters, I write this with tears in my eyes because I so badly want you to do what God has called you to do in either the Church or out in society. I know you are scared. I was scared too. I know that the Church has told you over and over that you were not created to be a leader, but the Church was wrong. I know that your husbands may be hesitant to let you fly, because my husband was too. I know that leadership takes sacrifice, but it is worth it. It is time to take a risk for Jesus and for all the men and women who are counting on you to lead. You will not be satisfied in your heart of hearts until you chase your dream. You, my love, are strong, capable, smart, and built for greatness. Your time is now!
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin… (Zechariah 4:10).
Jory Micah Peterson was born and raised just outside Pittsburgh, PA where she now resides with her husband, Luke and their pet chihuahua, Noella. She holds an AA from Christ for the Nations Bible Institute in Practical Theology, a BS from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Church Ministries, and an MA from Regent University in Christian Doctrine and History. Jory is an experienced Bible teacher and speaker who is passionate about seeing women become all that God has called them to be in the Christian Church. Follow Jory’s blog at jorymicah.com and find her on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @jorymicah. She can be found on Facebook at “Jory Micah Ministries.”
Some egalitarian resources that highly regard scripture: http://www.cbeinternational.org/ http://juniaproject.com/ http://jorymicah.com/