Influence

 the shape of leadership

Helping Women Answer the Call to Ministry

Kristen Padilla’s book offers encouragement and affirmation

Stephanie Nance on July 9, 2018

As an 18-year-old heading into my second year of college, I sat in my pastor’s office, eager to discuss the new direction of my life. I explained to him that I sensed God calling me to the ministry, just like two of my male friends in the church.

With a warm, fatherly smile, my pastor shook his head and asked, “Oh, Doll Baby, you don’t want to be a spinster, do you?”

Feeling a bit gutted and lost for words, I left his office more confused about my calling than when I walked in. However, I remained determined to figure it out — even if I had to do it alone.

The church often celebrates men when they receive a call to ministry. Women, on the other hand, can feel alone on their journey to answer God’s call, since some churches do not affirm women in church leadership. As a result, many women wrestle with their call alone, shying away from discerning it within community.

In her book, Now That I’m Called: A Guide for Women Discerning A Call to Ministry, Kristen Padilla explores what a ministry calling for women can look like, offering herself as that companion on the discernment journey. Padilla defines the call to ministry as “the call some receive to a ministry of delivering God’s Word for the benefit of the people of God.”

Women can feel alone on their journey to answer God’s call, since some churches do not affirm women in church leadership.

Seeing the call as an unfolding journey, unique for each person, Padilla wants her female readers to own their calling story. By telling the calling stories of both women and men throughout Scripture, Padilla helps women identify with the various ways God calls individuals.

Padilla does not shy away from the controversial passages that seemingly exclude women from specific ministry roles. As she walks through these texts, acknowledging the tension, she disarmingly unpacks them with strong exegetical skills. Having come from a denomination that limited women’s roles, she is sensitive to women from such traditions.

Although Padilla’s journey has led her to a church that affirms women in various ministry roles, Padilla does not force her readers to be where she is on the journey. She ultimately trusts the Spirit’s leading for each woman.

This book serves as much more than a guide to help women discern their call to ministry. It feels like a celebration of called women and men and the God who calls them. After almost 20 years of vocational ministry, I can’t help but wonder how differently my calling story would have developed if my pastor had a book like this to hand me when I was 18.

As a pastor and mentor, I’m seeing an unprecedented number of called women emboldened to lead in the church. We need to prepare ourselves to guide these women through a discernment process that can seem daunting.

Pastor, read this book, and offer it to a woman who has sensed God’s call to ministry. Then be the one to come alongside that woman to help shape her calling story.

Book Reviewed

Kristen Padilla, Now That I’m Called: A Guide for Women Discerning A Call to Ministry (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018).

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