Women in Ministry Series: On Failing at Ministry

I’ve been a fan of Ed Cyzewski ever since I first discovered his “Women in Ministry Series,” while simultaneously realizing he was a man! (Which means he is the bravest kind of man and I truly admire him.) He was our first contribution to the {This Sacred Everyday} series. And, he’s a fellow stay-at-home parent. (Which means I admire him even more.)

So it’s an honor to be able to contribute today to the very series I first found and loved from afar. And if you have a chance, take a look at the series: It’s a beautiful and important conversation we need to keep having.


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I stood on Mt. Princeton in 2005, overlooking the valley and the aspens that stretched out miles before me, and I sighed my surrender to God. I had just finished grad school, was newly married and moving soon to Philadelphia, my husband’s hometown. And I’d just traveled with 150 high school students on buses for two days, all the way from New York State to Colorado for camp.

I whispered, “God, I think I’m created for this work. Right here.” Nothing brought me more joy than ministry to middle and high school students. I gave myself to it.

I cried a lot my first year “in ministry.” It turned out that working for a parachurch mission meant devoting one-third of my time to fundraising. In my town, where most men were working in suits and most women were home with their kids, that meant helping to run a golf tournament for men twenty years my senior and asking for a big financial donation from an intimidating male executive over lunch. It meant constant discomfort in my skin.

I wasn’t good at developing volunteer leaders and having hard conversations with them about their choices and gifts. I wanted to avoid conflict at all costs and in doing so, I struggled to be more than a surface-level cheerleader for them. I was not good at managing my area’s finances. I was not good at notcrying when faced with all the things I wasn’t good at.

Keep reading over at Ed’s place?




  • http://abisomeone.blogspot.com Peggy

    Dear new sister-friend … so much to read, so limited time. Sigh….

    If you love Benedict, have you read the Hawk and the Dove series by Penelope Wilcox? There are now six volumes — and they have become precious to me. You would love them…just sayin’. :-)

    I am drawn more to Celtic monasticism and the folks at Northumbria and their Celtic Daily Prayer has touched me deeply. I love the daily office, and Compline has been such a blessing. I got their mp3s of their office and the sung version is just right. Having no one to really say the office with, being a Virtual Abbess, it seems fitting that I should join with a virtual community to say the office. It has been a comfort in my isolation.

    As with so many of the other contributors to Ed’s series, I wish we lived next door…. I think we should have a retreat so we could all meet IRL. We could run the monastic end…. :-)

    I left ministry for home when I realized my three boys were my primary mission in this season (along with other reasons, of course). My eldest will graduate high school this year, but I have one 14 and another 12…so, eight years to go — or whatever Father has up his sleeve for us….

  • Heatherer

    I’ve been praying to several months now for God to give me someone like you needed when you were in ministry. In many ways, I feel like I’m in this alone. People know I exist, of course, but they think I’ve got it put together and I think they never imagine that with all of their own failings, I could still want them to be a mentor. I don’t have someone older than me to lean on when faith gets hard or when I have questions about parenting. It’s funny, because we value teenagers having these people to go out to a meal and open scripture and get honest with them. But once you’re out of high school, or college at the latest, you’re clearly able to manage on your own. Well, I’m not. I think it would do a world of good if more women could have the mentors they need AND be the mentors someone else needs.