Because I am a woman and in ministry, most people make two rather odd assumptions about me. The first is that I love children. The fact that I only have one child of my own is a misfortune paramount to having been orphaned or maimed in a freak accident. Given our ministry to youth and teens, I can see why this might be a forgone conclusion for so many people. But the truth is that I am not particularly fond of young children. I'm sorry if this idea shocks or offends. I just don't enjoy being invited "serve" with your three-year-old Sunday school class or teach a missions lesson to kindergartners who have the attention span of a housefly. Steve, however, can translate even the most garbled toddler-speak and could easily spend hours making Play-Doh spaghetti. Yet, he's rarely asked to plan the VBS activities or help serve the gluten-free, peanut-free, sugar-free snack.
The second assumption is that I cook. I hate cooking. It is a chore only a notch or two more tolerable than scrubbing bathroom tile grout with a toothbrush (Steve's toothbrush of course). Before becoming missionaries, my family subsisted on frozen pizza and take-out between t-ball, karate classes and cub scout meetings. In all honesty, I'm not even confident that I can peel a potato properly. But, as it turns out, not being able to cook is quite a debility when you're a female missionary. Yes, living in Honduras has forced me to learn a thing or two in the absence of processed foods and Pizza Hut. But I still only get by with the bare minimum and, if at all possible, I try to hire a local cook when we host visitors. So you can imagine my anxiety at being asked to help in the kitchen at every church potluck, camp canteen, fiesta and holiday event. Thankfully, I can usually get by if I volunteer to wash dishes.
I used to think that I had to learn to like wiping snotty noses and chopping kale to be useful in the Kingdom of God (or at least suffer through it). But I'm learning that not all women suddenly become holy Mary Poppins or Betty Crocker when they walk through the sanctuary door. And that's ok. I think our church culture can do better at engaging women and using our varied gifts and talents for His glory.
What do you think? Is there a place for women like me in ministry?