Being THAT girl. {Guest Post by Tori Mick}

{These are words from my closest friend, Tori. She has been part of my tribe for several years, and is my sister both in love and in Christ. Her heart for speaking truth in a raw manner and for taking the unbeaten path never fails to excite me. She currently makes her home in KY, loving her kids, serving God, calling out nonsense, and making music with her life as only she can do. Since my focus for this wee blog is to encourage my sisters (and brothers) to live out their journey in freedom and love and without comparison, Tori graciously agreed to write some of her perspective today….}

Most people have opinions about women being in ministry. Good or bad, they are your opinions. I am not here to debate them. In fact, I’ve devoted hours of my life and hours of my coursework to figuring out how I fit into the context of ministry. I can assure you that being a female in ministry is generally the path less travelled. Can I let you in on a secret? We’re not overly different than the men we work with, we just bring different strengths to the table. Sure, I wear jeggings and boots. And okay, I wear a dress and heels on occasion. And I will neither confirm nor deny eating my feelings in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But, instead of telling you how hard it is to be a female in ministry, how about we discuss a few characteristics that men and women share?

Individuality and Passion.
I was a musician from an early age. My parents will tell you that from the time I was little, I marched to the beat of my own drum. I wore what I liked. I felt and thought deeply. I wasn’t concerned with the status quo. Frankly, it wasn’t really my thing. Being an individual labeled me “THAT girl”. We got involved in a great United Methodist Church and praise the good Lord those people celebrated my individuality. They didn’t care what color my hair was when I came to youth group. They certainly didn’t care what brand my clothes were. They nurtured me and loved me in a way that only a healthy congregation can. I love them for that. My individuality wasn’t dependent on who society wanted me to be and neither was my passion. Everyone has the opportunity to be passionate about something. Early on in my career, I stumbled upon what has now become my favorite scripture verse.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. – Galatians 1:10

Holding true to your individuality and following God’s will is what matters. God created us all different and yet we are part of one body. How about we start letting the body parts work with each other instead of against each other?

The Stereotype.
Just don’t. Please, for the love of all things good and holy, don’t stereotype ANYONE. For instance: I am a woman and I HATE wearing dresses and high heels. If the option for basketball shorts and a t-shirt is available, I always pick the basketball shorts. It goes deeper than what we wear. I can’t tell you the number of times it shocks people to find out that I’m a single female who didn’t get married to her prince charming while in college. I want to be married to an incredible man of God. I just like to believe that my prince charming is too stubborn to stop at the gas station for directions on his way to my house. I have children; 21 teenagers to be exact. I love them dearly. I am charged with teaching them about Jesus. I am a mom, confidant, cheerleader, voice of reason, cook, janitor, and leader. I am their youth pastor. Guess what? There are more men than women in youth pastor roles. Those men heard the call of God to lead teenagers just like I did. We bring different strengths to the table, but so does anyone in a youth pastor role regardless of gender.

Worth.
I implore you, can we please stop equating gender to worth? Being a human being in this world is hard enough on a good day. The societal expectations are daunting at best. Being put down because someone disagrees with my call to ministry is rough.

I went to a private college my freshman year that was a different denomination than my own and I learned some hard truths. People are cruel. The only way to thrive in ministry is to fully rely on God because in the end, it’s God who is transforming lives. In my freshman year, I had a music professor ask what I wanted to do with a worship degree. I stated that I wanted to be a worship leader. He chuckle-snorted to himself and told my class that the only thing I would ever be good at in the church was being an organist because “his denomination didn’t allow women in ministry.” Folks, while I have an appreciation for the organ, I play six other instruments. I think I’m good.

I moved to an interdenominational school in northwest Arkansas the following year. I sat in a theology of worship class where men were laughing and making jokes about how the women shouldn’t be in the class because we didn’t belong there. We really should just “go make them a sandwich.” Do you know how hurtful that was?

In the end…
I have received rejection letter after rejection letter for jobs I applied for because they felt like “a male applicant would be more suitable for the role.” And I questioned God in the process. Why the heck had He allowed me the opportunities I had been given and yet I couldn’t get a job? Was being a woman in ministry really even worth it? As a worship leader and now as a youth pastor, I work in a man’s world. And for the foreseeable future, it will continue to be a man’s world. Awhile back, I was sought after by a pastor who was looking to achieve a specific goal. I finished out the hiring of his dream team. Proving myself worthy in a staff where the ratio of men to women was 7-3 was tedious. Me and “the boys” as I liked to call them forged a path together that became an incredible partnership and a lasting bond. They embraced me for who I was and the gifts I could bring to the table. They were my brothers and I was their sister. We were a team. Gender didn’t matter.

Being THAT girl is not always who I wanted to be. I think as females we long to fit in and be loved. We want to feel like we matter. But, let me be honest, I didn’t live a normal life. I was born into a military family. I’ve lived in several states and visited several countries. I’ve had the pleasure of immersing myself in cultures that were not my own. But who wants an ordinary life anyway, right? I am proud that my family had a part in something bigger than ourselves. I haven’t lived an ordinary life; it’s been extraordinary.

I was THAT girl who liked comfort over fashion (don’t joke, i’m still THAT girl). I was THAT girl who never wanted anyone to feel unnoticed, knowing the feeling myself. I was THAT girl who would rather play street hockey with her brother than dolls. I was THAT girl who would volunteer to serve for just about anything at church. I was THAT girl who followed God’s will and chose a vocation that doesn’t always support gender equality. I was THAT girl. And being THAT girl is who God created me to be. Being a female church worker is right where God wants me to be, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

{You can read more of Tori’s words over at http://ammoandhulahoops.wordpress.com}

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