Someone very near and dear to my heart told me of a recent church service she attended. When the altar call was given the pastor asked those to come forward who felt that God was calling them into ministry. My dear friend along with several other females lined up at the altar.
The pastor told everyone that God could use women to minister, but insisted that they were to support the men who were called to minister. He again pleaded for the men that were called by God to get out of their seats and come forward. When a few more men accepted the invitation he totally skipped over the ladies and prayed that God would help the men to fulfill their calling.
My friend said her heart sank as she stood there feeling as if God could only use her in a purely supportive position, or only as a default because so few men stepped forward. My heart broke for her, and I could relate to her feelings because of similar experiences I have had. In my visual mindset, it was akin to someone dangling candy in front of a child and jerking it back when the child reached for it, and the treat then being given to someone else.
I encouraged my friend by telling her that God knew what He was doing when He called her. He had destined to use her before the beginning of time. [Psalm 139:16] And, I assured her that she was not chosen by default. Our God is a God who acts intentionally, not carelessly. He is, He was, and He always will be God. He knows all things from the beginning to the end. As women ministers we are not His second choice.
Joel 2:28 tells us that God will pour out His Spirit on all people, sons and daughters. Peter reiterates this point as he addresses the crowd in Acts 2:17-18. God chooses whom He uses, and how He uses them. It’s not man’s choice or man’s opinion that matters, it’s God’s.
I’m not telling you to try to assert authority over men. My husband is and always will be the head of our household. But, God has not called Him to preach. He called me to preach. God uses Bryan in different ways. Bryan doesn’t have a desire to preach because that is not his calling.
On the other hand, I have an intense desire to preach and share the Gospel of Christ with those who are lost. Bryan sees the anointing that God has placed on my life for ministry, and He supports me 100%. He is not intimidated by me or my ministry, he is my support. I am so grateful for the many male pastors who have also been a support, and have invited me into their churches to speak. I believe they will be blessed because they followed the direction of the Holy Spirit, and not the influence of peoples opinions.
God used many women in the Old and New Testaments, and He is not done. I know all the verses people quote to prove that women are not allowed to speak in church, and maybe I will revisit this topic in a later post. I will just say that if you study the context of the Scriptures, the customs of the time period, and the audience being addressed in the Scriptures you will see that this did not apply to all women from then until Jesus comes.
There will always be those who disagree, and choose not to accept women as preachers, teachers, or evangelists and that’s fine. But, I have seen the Holy Spirit move in the lives of both the saved and the lost in response to sermons I have shared. People are being saved, delivered, healed, baptized in the Holy Spirit, and experiencing miracles in these services.
It’s certainly not due to any ability I possess, for in myself I am weak and worthless. But, God chose me, and I responded in obedience to the call when Jesus asked me to preach His Word. It’s not because I’m a female, and it’s not because of the lack of men in ministry. I wasn’t His second choice, and I wasn’t called to minister by default. It was God’s plan and His destiny for my life. I was destined to serve Him in this capacity, not defaulted to. And neither are you whether you are a male or female. Be obedient and answer the call.
I’m always amazed by how God moves and ministers in ways we can never fathom. He is a God of the unexpected. This past weekend I was invited to speak for a women’s luncheon and to stay and preach at the church on Sunday morning. God always has different messages for different congregations, and I always seek to hear exactly what He would have me share with each one.
This weekend was no different. I had prayed and prayed for direction on what He would have me to share with this particular congregation. I seemed to hear nothing but crickets! Then I finally felt impressed in my Spirit to share the same sermon I had preached at a service earlier in the week. I took out my notes from the previous service and looked over them in preparation for Sunday morning.
As I stepped onto the platform and began to preach, the Holy Spirit used the same bare bones structure for the sermon. But, then He stepped in and took me in a totally different direction than I had intended to go. As He led me, I found myself sharing things I had never planned on sharing, and things that were certainly not in my notes.
I love when the Holy Spirit does that. He knew exactly what He had planned for that congregation whether I expected it or not. I had envisioned a totally different outcome for that service that morning. But, He just wanted me to follow His lead. I wasn’t expecting what He did in the altar service either. He showed up in a powerful way, evidenced by signs and wonders.
His plans were totally unexpected, but they were absolutely perfect! I wonder how many times we miss amazing blessings because we are not expecting what He has planned? Do we get so caught up in our own plans that we don’t realize when He changes directions and begins to lead us in another direction?
I’m learning the importance of completely leaning on Him and allowing Him to upset my own plans and intentions more than ever before. I love seeing Him move in unexpected ways. I have heard report after report about how God spoke confirmations to people, and answered questions in the minds of different individuals this past weekend. Some were saved. Others experienced physical healing, and others were baptized in the Holy Spirit.
When we simply let the Holy Spirit have His way, He has the ability to minister to every need in the room. If we rely on our own knowledge we often stifle the work He is trying to do. We need to be willing to go in unexpected directions upon His leading. It might not look anything like what we are expecting. But, I would much rather see the outcome He brings about, than what I could witness through my own feeble attempts.
I’m embracing the unexpected leadership of the Holy Spirit.
What would happen if we raised our expectations, and allowed for His unexpected direction in every aspect of our lives? I think it would be nothing short of miraculous!
Donna Sparks is an International Speaker and Evangelist. She is the Author of Beauty From Ashes: My Story of Grace, and, No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous.