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Just Like Dad

When I was a child, I wanted to be just like my dad.  He was a preacher, and I loved watching him preach.  Hearing his voice fill the sanctuary, hearing the people cry “Amen!” as the Spirit moved.  Something about it all thrilled me.  I couldn’t name this desire, I just knew that I wanted to be up there. When I grew up, I fulfilled my dream.   I served as a preacher.  Well, sort of.

While I lived in England, I became a Local Preacher.  The Methodists run this program, which trains lay people to preach and conduct a service.  Since English Methodism has few ordained ministers, Local Preachers form the backbone of most districts.  Therefore, I gained a great deal of preaching experience. When I came back to America, I gave it up.  I regret that very much.

I regret even more, however, that I can’t tell my dad I grew up to be just like him.  You see, he doesn’t think I should follow in his footsteps. Why?  Because I’m not a boy.  And girls don’t preach. I knew this growing up, but not because my father ever told me.  He didn’t have to.  I saw it everywhere around me.  I grew up in a small Texas town, where men ran the businesses and their wives stayed home.  All the ministers were men, while women taught the children and cooked for the potlucks.  The message couldn’t have been clearer if they had painted it on the town’s water tower: men have authority, women follow and do the unsung work.

Please do not misunderstand me.  I had a normal, loving childhood.  My parents are two of the godliest people I know, and I love them deeply.  They never pushed us into traditional gender roles.  When my sister developed into a math prodigy, they never told her, “Girls don’t do math.  Focus on learning to do housework.”  They didn’t encourage us to go to college—they expected it.    My parents have always supported our dreams and goals. Except for preaching.  Except for that.

When I got to college, I joined a ministry group run by the Assemblies of God.  They had women preachers.  My mind could not reconcile what I saw with what I believed.  So I rationalized it.  It was ok because the guys in our group were still under their parent’s authority.  After all, didn’t they live at home?  After college, I tried to become a minister with this group, but they turned me down. I continued trying to answer my call without really answering it.  Next up came missionary work.  That wasn’t really preaching. After all—and I cringe to admit this now—the natives didn’t have the blessings of American civilization.  Doesn’t that make them like children?  And isn’t it ok for women to teach children? Patriarchy doesn’t just affect how you view women.

So I wasted several years of my life trying, and failing, to become a missionary .   Eventually, I met my English husband and moved to Britain.  There I saw an entirely new world.  One where a woman had once headed the country.  One where people didn’t think about equality for women because, why should they?  Why would you question what seemed so obvious and natural?  Most of all, I saw women in the pulpit and nobody made any big deal over it. When I shared my calling with my husband, he didn’t hesitate.  Become a Local Preacher like me, he said.  You’ll have good company, because most LP’s are women!  After interviewing with our pastor, he recommended me to our district’s association of LP’s.  One of the happiest nights of my life came when my husband returned from the meeting where they had voted to accept me.  I can still see the joy on his face and feel the hug he gave me.

To make a long story short, a few years later we felt the Lord saying He wanted us to return to the States.  We settled in the suburb of Dallas where my parents live.  Unfortunately, most of the churches in this area are Baptist.  We tried the Methodist church, but my husband said he “just didn’t feel the Spirit moving,” so we ended up not attending there.  I wasn’t entirely unhappy, since we also found out that Local Preachers here don’t have much to do since there are plenty of ministers.  We have ended up in a Baptist church.  Mercifully, it’s not very big on gender roles, so we’re fairly comfortable. Still, though, there are days when I wish I could speak.  I wish I could tell my church that I’m tired of women on this side, men on that side, as if we were all playing dodgeball at recess.  I wish I could tell my mother that I don’t believe in headship/submission like she does.  You don’t have to “just live with it” because that’s the decision your husband made, even though it affects you, too. Most of all, I wish I could tell my dad that I want to be just like him.

Author: Lori Buckle
Lori and her husband Andrew have a website which is interesting. www.fccfellowship.org

15 Comments

  1. Comment #98197 posted February 3, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I was touch reading it, it makes me cry :’( It was to good to follow and yes and I hope you can follow or even do more like your dad did.

    God Bless!

  2. Comment #98198 posted February 3, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Oh, this hurts my heart.

    I’ve been struggling with the call to be a pastor for the last 6 years. I gave up the struggle recently when I switched my major (from business) to philosophy, which I love and I’m very qualified for.

    I gave up because I was first told by a pastor that the Holy Spirit hadn’t confirmed my call to him. I left that church because of the pain, so I tried teaching an adult class at another church. That went well, but I moved again due to other issues. I was literally lured into another church where I started a ministry and had it taken away over who was actually “in-charge” of the ministry, and then that pastor was verbally abusive to me because I went over his head to his ‘supervisor’…I gave up…I figured that philosophy is where God wants me. My plan is to continue until I get a PhD and then teach a little. (I’m not at all young)

    I gave up because I’m tired of defending my intelligence and ability and giftings. I get grouchy to the people who assume I’d love to work with children or cook in church kitchens, after I’ve just given a talk on the Old Testament to both local groups or even international via Skipe.

    I finally listened to some very good friends and this last November started attending a church where their son is the worship team leader (and I love to sing)…but I finally worked up the courage to have coffee with the pastor, and it was such a good conversation. He is 100% egalitarian (and that is for-real…I’ve been lied to by pastors as well).

    After church today, the pain was back: it hit me that this is the church and pastor that would sign and support me getting an Mdiv. I almost cried on the way home…I feel like it is just too late.

    I will continue my philosophy undergrad (only 27 more credits to go) and re-evaluate…but at this point, I just can’t see changing boats in the middle of this stream. If God really wants me to get the Mdiv, it’s gonna have to wait until I’m done with the philosophy track…and I’m going to be nearly 60 years old…and I’ll have to have a financial miracle.

    And knowing God, he’d do something like that!

    *and that’s what I’m afraid of…ever heard of Jonah!*

    • wendy
      Comment #98212 posted February 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

      I am a woman with an MDiv in a church that does not ordain women. Who knows where God will lead me. But, Lisa, I have a neighbor who is an atheist, and I try to explain to him the many good reasons for belief in God. Several times i have wished i had a degree in philosophy. So who knows what God will do with you. And God likes to use people who are old enough to get the senior discount. more power to you.

      • Comment #98220 posted February 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm

        Well Wendy, if you get stuck trying to answer apologetics type questions: I can certainly help you there…I consider myself a Biblical Apologist, and I specialize in answering the questions of Atheist philosophy professors…kindly and winsomely! You can send me a note… find me on facebook. :-)

        But I just don’t understand if you’ve gotten an Mdiv, why does the body of Christ waste that education and talent?

        It just boggles me.

        Now in philosophy, there are also few women philosophy professors, but you also have a whole bunch of out of work men with PhD’s in that discipline. Although women are not discouraged, they certainly are not encouraged (much) in philosophy, but especially not in the Evangelical Philosophical Society…but I personally have been “cheered on” by a couple of EPS members…but I was the only woman (student) presenter at EPS mid-west two years running.

        So the reception I get is not very welcoming from the Christian philosophy world…I am supported by the professors at the secular school I attend and have a retired philosophy professor who encourages me and answers my questions when I get stuck. But this is about as hard as going for an Mdiv.

        • Comment #98221 posted February 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

          Oh…one more thing: putting my “thoughts” in writing here has really helped.

          Thanks for allowing me to do this.

          • Liz Liz
            Comment #98224 posted February 5, 2013 at 1:32 am

            You are most welcome Lisa…..your comments have been very helpful and it would be good to hear more from you.

  3. Comment #98199 posted February 3, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Lisa, You can preach, minister and teach without a MDiv. degree. You can even be a pastor without a MDiv. degree. If you’ve found a church that wants to hear from you, praise God and go for it. :)

    • Comment #98211 posted February 4, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Thanks TL. I don’t know what my current pastor has up his sleeve, but he may at some point let me preach.

      We’ll see.

  4. Kathleen Langridge
    Comment #98200 posted February 3, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Lori, I will soon be 68 years old, having spent 12 years in England preaching I am now in Latvia where once again I am silent. My English husband and I are here by God’s design, It is a hard place and I share your pain at being silent. I wonder why it is this way but I keep on trusting Him above all else. I chose to leave the U.S. so that I could fulfill God’s call and enjoyed those 12 years, learning so much, knowing Him in ways I could never have imagined. I pray He will surprise you with openings of doors that no one can shut, including sharing with your loving parents. God bless you and draw you further up further in.

  5. PS anafterthought
    Comment #98214 posted February 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Quite frankly, it seems to me that if someone denies another the right to use a gift given by God, that there must be sin involved in exerting that authority. In the parable of the talents, the servant who hid his talents is not honored. In this case, it seems to me that a woman who has been given a DEMONSTRATED gift of preaching but doesn’t preach isn’t sinning, but rather, those who prohibit that preaching bear responsibility and are accountable to God. Are there really enough workers in God’s vineyard? Are there not people who hear one preacher with more understanding than they hear other preachers? OTOH, if a Christian is to bloom where she is planted, then pray about how to bloom (or leave that place.) There may be other gardens in the same vicinity, and there may be other ways of planting the Seed.

  6. Comment #98302 posted February 8, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments. I have been deeply touched by them.

    Wendy, I envy you. I, too, would love go to seminary. We have two in my city, but one is run by the Baptists, so I don’t think I would feel comfortable there. The other is non-denominational, but it’s kind of unusual. Their catalog says that all of their degree programs, including MTh (Master of Theology, equivalent to MDiv) are coeducational. However, then they say that they don’t believe in women ministers, so their programs of study “are not designed to prepare women for these roles”. Then why admit women? Why not just deny them like the Baptists?

    Anyway, I would love to take their MTh in Church History degree. (Not surprising, given our ministry.) Right now, though, we have some financial debt we need to finish paying off. I have to be honest and say I don’t feel called to be a pastor. However, I wish I could do something similar to what I did in England: travel around from church to church. I used to say that I wanted to be the next Beth Moore, but that’s not really true. I don’t want to be pigeonholed as “just a woman’s speaker”.

    Funny story about that, though. The church we now attend is fairly small. Therefore, their mid-week Bible study is coeducational. When we first started attending, they were knee deep in Moore’s study of King David. At first I was startled to have men in our group, but I quickly got used to it. The men enjoyed the study just as much as the women. It just reinforced my belief that the Bible is for all people. I guess, then, that I’d rather be a Joyce Meyer type. Now, I just need to come up with an idea for that bestselling book. :)

    Lisa, don’t give up. I’ll be honest and say that you may not be able to become a pastor. That’s because the world, even Christians, fall into the “age discrimination” trap. (Which is ironic considering how many older people God used in the Bible.) However, if you feel God leading, then by all means take the course. As I said above, I don’t think I would like to be a pastor. However, I would love to study biblical languages and get to know the Word backwards and forwards. Who knows how God could use you or me afterwards?

    • Comment #98305 posted February 9, 2013 at 12:19 am

      Thank you for the encouraging word Lori.

      Only God knows the answer to my future, but I’m still plugging along with my philosophy degree, and settling into what finally is a church home.

  7. Comment #98313 posted February 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Hi Lori,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I relate a lot to your desire to be like your dad. Here is a reflection I wrote on my experience: http://www.aliciammiller.com/2011/01/01/i-always-knew-i-was-a-girl/

    Praying you experience more healing and are able to walk more fully in your gifts in your new church.

    Alicia

  8. Comment #104517 posted April 27, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Bravo. Thanks for telling this story.

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