Growing up in an Anglican Church the thought of being a minister never entered my head. I vividly remember though, in my teens, encountering a woman URC Minister and being deeply impacted both by what she said and by who she was. About this time, I began to attend a Baptist church, and very soon found my spiritual home there. I got married, had children and became involved in church leadership. I began to be involved with the ministry of retreats and spiritual direction. I first heard the call to ministry while I was on an individually-guided retreat. I was convinced this was a ridiculous idea, but my retreat guide encouraged
me to hear and take this call seriously, exploring it further on my return home. This I did. My minister laughed when I told him, so I gladly put the idea away.
However… God thought differently… the call grew stronger and some years later I had to face up to and properly explore it.
I think the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my own sense of inadequacy and unworthiness – who was I to even think that I could do this? (I still climb over this obstacle on a fairly regular basis!) Other people put obstacles in my way… doubts about my abilities, concerns for the welfare of my children, the fact that I was a woman, being just a few. However, as I faced these each time God affirmed, confirmed and strengthened his call on my life. I have learned God is faithful, and that the saying ‘where God calls, he equips’ is true – I am called to trust and follow, not have it all neatly sewn up.
I would want to encourage younger women to have faith in the God who has faith in them. I think also I would want to encourage them to be themselves; one of the things I was most ‘hung up’ on when I was exploring my call was my ability to preach – I couldn’t do it like the person I most regularly heard (a man). I was encouraged by a wise, experienced woman minister to find my own voice, to recognise that, as a woman, I probably wouldn’t preach like a man, or even another woman, and nor should I try. God has given me a unique way to tell and share his story and build his church, and that’s what I need to do, and is much of what, to my amazement, I do day by day here in my ministry at Lee Abbey.
I have few words to describe what I feel about one of my daughters (Abby Lintern) being the student pastor of a church. I’m not sure she’s following in my footsteps exactly, as I recognised her call before I knew my own, but it is such a joy to see her responding to that call and to see how God is using her mightily in the work of his kingdom.