Women and Ministry: Thoughts from Sarah

Throughout history, one word describes women’s involvement in missions: obedience. Women have been the driving force in missions. Two-thirds of the mission force has been, and currently is, female.7 Sarah Allen has sat down with hundreds of women to discuss their involvement in missions. Here is some of her advice:

The fact that so many women are getting involved in ministry is amazing. There have been quite a few questions when it comes to women in ministry. I’ve identified a few consistent themes: Companionship and Community. The most obvious issue is companionship. When I signed up for ministry, I feared I was signing up for singleness. I committed to living out of a suitcase, traveling around the country, out of sight and out of mind for any godly single men that I knew.

When it comes to the question of relationships, I understand. On one hand, I know that God works outside of our time and circumstances for His purposes. No matter where in the world we end up, if He wants us to be married, we will get married. God doesn’t need our help to run into the man of our dreams. We need to trust Him.

However, I do warn against expectations. This could be our biggest cause of pain. God could drop a godly man in our lap at any moment, but we shouldn’t be staring at the sky while waiting for it. Scripture and testimonies speak clearly about how God uses single women to minister in a way that married women cannot. If God wants you single, do not expect that to change. Do not look forward to the day it will change. Seek contentment in your singleness, and joy will come from devoting your time and energy to ministry (see 1 Cor. 7:34-35).

A desire to be married is good. Desiring marriage as an answer to our discontentment is idolatry. A boyfriend, a husband, children, a comfortable home, a great wardrobe, a degree—nothing will truly satisfy us except for Christ. He wants us to want Him above all! I want to be married, and that’s okay. But my desire is to first seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness. 

As you learn to be obedient to Christ and to make His name known, you will want someone who desires the same. It’s better to be married to the right man for forty years than the wrong man for fifty. And it’s better to wish you married than to wish you were single. I know godly women who have fallen off the map and out of ministry for the sake of a less-than-worthy boyfriend, fiancé, or husband. That breaks my heart.

Another obstacle is community. Though many girls think finding Mr. Right is going to greatly help, the driving force behind life is our girlfriends. Everything is done in groups. Best friends, Bible studies, small groups, and life groups—we have our girls we talk to for the sake of keeping our sanity. Consider going to the more difficult areas. Community naturally shrinks. There may be only a small number of believers in the city; what then?

For me, I found myself in a different city every week. I quickly realized the need to find people for debriefing and encouragement. The writer of Hebrews said, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together … but encouraging one another” (10:24-25). I recruited three women I could call at particular times throughout the week. Not only was it good for me, but it helped me refocus on ministry and grow in my relationship with Christ. For some it might mean seeking out people to call. For others, it might mean getting into a small group. Regardless, the call to community is unquestionable.

These obstacles can easily inhibit us from effective ministry, but planning for how to work through them is prudent. God blesses us in different ways. Sometimes the gift is singleness. Sometimes it’s marriage. It must be Christ who decides, not us!

By Josh Cooper

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