My dad and I after one of his theater productions
When I was 18-years-old, I packed my little yellow Sunfire up and headed over 2,000 miles away to Dallas, TX to attend Bible college. I went to Christ for the Nations Bible Institute, which is a semi-small school, but breeds greatness. My roommate was Kari Jobe (I know, super cool) and three other amazing gals. My dream was to take after my father and become a minister and CFNI would be my first training ground.
There was a teacher on campus who a lot of the guys loved because he was bold in his approach, confident, and manly I guess. He was a strong Calvinist Reformer, which basically means that he believed people were predestined by God to go to heaven or hell and free will did not play a part in their eternal destination. He was also a staunch Complementarian, which means that he believed men and women to be equal in “value,” but not in “authority.”
This teacher got a group of the “cool guys” all wound up one day and I got to be their lucky target. A brood of immature teen boys basically cornered me and asked me if I would come sit down and talk with them. I was a brave girl, so I agreed. For about 30 minutes, this group of guys attempted to explain to me why the Bible prohibits me from being a minister in the church over both men and women because I am a girl.
Looking back, the ironic thing about this whole conversation was that the leader of the school we were attending was a woman; Freda Lindsay, whose husband (Gordon Lindsay) died not long after the two founded the school together. It was either she step up and take over the Bible institute or she let the whole dream die. These teen boys were expected to submit to Freda’s authority and so was the male teacher planting garbage in their heads. Funny how we let these thoughts escape us when we are young.
After this seemingly long conversation with these boys, I walked away feeling defeated. I was 18 and they were a couple years older than me. They had more training than me and could support their views better than I could. I remember thinking to myself, “If God does not allow women to be leaders in the church, why in the world am I in Bible school?” My young heart was beyond discouraged.
The moment I got into my apartment, I called my dad and sobbed. I began “preaching” to anyone who would listen when I was five-years-old. At 13-years-old, I knew that God officially called me to be a minister to both men and women. I had one dream, and in 30 minutes, five teenage boys thoughtlessly used the Bible as a stick and shattered my God-given purpose. I was devastated. It totally blew my mind; for 18 years I had no idea that there were actually people in the church who limited the callings of others based off their gender.
Oh how grateful I am for my father. I truly know many dads who would have agreed with those teen boys or at least said something like, “Oh sweetie, you can be a minister, you just cannot ever lead or teach men because you are a woman.” Not my dad! He first allowed me to cry it out and once I calmed down, he told me that those teen boys didn’t know what the heck they were talking about and that he would prove it to me.
A week later, I received a package in the mail from my father. It was full of books to study on the subject, using the Bible to support female leaders on all fronts in the church. I gained enough knowledge to regain my confidence and used my anger towards those boys as fuel to further my calling. I didn’t stay mad at them. They were kids being taught this stuff by a grown man who was truly convinced he was teaching the Bible . I can see how this message of patriarchy in the church would be appealing to a group of testosterone and ego filled young, male ministers in training.
I simply decided that I would work hard and become more educated than them and most male ministers out there. I am thankful for that group of teen boys. They showed me early what I was up against and since I knew Complementarians valued the Bible’s authority as much as I did, I would have to understand the Bible better than them. I was not a great student in High School, but this all changed in college. I had a purpose and I was going to prove all the naysayers wrong.
After graduating from CFNI with an AA in Practical Theology, I surprised my family by deciding to continue college. I completed a BS in Church Ministries and was turned on to a new passion: Church History. A year after graduating, I sent shock waves through my family again when I told them I would go on to seminary and earn a MA in Christian Doctrine and Church History. I soon became the first and only person in my family to obtain a master’s degree and I am determined to earn a doctorate degree as well someday. I wrote my thesis on women in the first and second centuries who were leaders in the church over both men and women using the Bible (in its original context) as my primary source. You can read it here.
Looking back, my father played a key role in my success. Growing up, I watched him preach sermon after sermon using the Bible as his primary source. His love for God’s Word and Jesus inspired me and I wanted nothing more than to follow in his footsteps. Can you imagine if he had said, “Sorry honey, but girls can’t be preachers.” My whole life would have turned out different. I may not have even went to school at all. My whole life may have just been centered around finding a man to take care of me. But, thankfully, that is not my story.
I had a feminist dad who protected me against Christian bullies and gave me the support and confidence I needed to pick myself up off the ground, wipe the tears from my face, educate myself past everyone’s expectations, learn how to express my thoughts in writing, use my voice to fight for what I believe in and show all the patriarchal men out there who they are dealing with.
I value a man’s authority just as much as a woman’s authority! Why wouldn’t I? I have personally experienced how one man can give one girl enough self-confidence and God-given authority to last a life time. Because of my dad treating me like an equal in both “value” and “authority,” I married a man who honors me in the same way. The men in my life have given me hope that I too may be chosen to lead armies for the Lord, preach the good news, heal the sick, empower the marginalized and fight against injustice.
I will never again allow any man or woman for that matter to “put me in my place,” but I will rise up as a daughter of the living God and take my equal place of authority among my brothers in Christ.
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~Galatians 3:28
Daddy, thank you for not buying into legalism and misinterpreting scripture to limit my potential. I will forever be grateful. I love and honor you today.
Happy Father’s Day!
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