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a beautiful calling against a backdrop of exclusion

I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed in this moment. I just finished a seminary assignment requiring review of other students’ written descriptions of their calling to ministry. The backstory is that the book we are referencing excludes women from pastoral leadership. Every woman in this class is therefore placed in the predicament of expressing our calling to this backdrop of exclusion. I read another woman’s post and responded. And here it is.

Ja*****, thank you for your service in the military and the ministry. Like you, I’m a woman who is confident in my calling to lead and pastor. There are many denominations that welcome, equip, and empower women, and I have faith that you will be united with a church that is looking for someone with your passion and calling.I look at John 4 through a new lens and want to encourage you with the passage about the Samaritan woman. Bottom line on top, Jesus seeks out this woman (v. 6-7), equips and empowers her to evangelize her town (vs. 10-30), and she is praised for using her testimony to bring many to the Messiah (v. 41).

These are all very straightforward aspects of this passage, yet one thing that strikes me is in verse 28 which reads, “Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city.”Two thoughts come to my mind. First, the vessel’s purpose was to hold a water that could never fully quench her thirst. Once she understood that Jesus’ living water would fully quench her thirst, there was no longer a need to carry that heavy burden. Second, that heavy vessel she carried was important to her and her family. Even so, she didn’t carry it back to the city with her. Instead, she made the choice to drop it and leave it behind.

There’s something in that story that captures my interest. How often do women carry heavy burdens instead of stepping into the freedom of Christ? I love her story because she had the courage to drop her burden at Jesus’ feet and run to evangelize her town. Before that day, she preached an empty word that didn’t fully quench anyone’s thirst. But after meeting Jesus at the well, she preached with the power and knowledge of Living Water.

As women we may have to lay down a burden or two in order to preach and teach. I hope to encourage you Ja*****, because you are following in the footsteps of the first evangelist. Many blessings to you in your ministry.

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