by Bethany Hammer
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
After graduating college, I landed what I thought was my dream job in elementary education. Not long after, God began to stir a calling in my life to use my gifts for the local church. I was hesitant at first, but it didn’t take long to realize there was no resisting God.
I wish I could say that each time God called me to do something, I had the same posture as Mary when the angel came to visit her with the news that she would conceive and give birth to God’s son. Even though I imagine she was confused, fearful, or maybe even overwhelmed as she asked the angel “how can this be?”, she still responded immediately with simple obedience: “I am the Lord’s servant” (Luke 1:34-38).
I, on the other hand, have sometimes been a little slower to respond, asking God to please explain a little more. At times, I have asked “how can this be?” and received an immediate answer. Other times, I have to wait years until God revealed the purpose behind his nudge.
Very quickly after I had started in my new position at our church, I realized I had no direct leadership experience—other than leading thirty plus fifth graders for seven hours a day. I was determined to get a deeper understanding on how to lead strongly for God’s purposes in my new position.
With my newfound schedule of working on Sundays, I took every Friday off during the week. I used that time to deep clean my house. But I am a learner at heart, so I popped in a DVD from the Global Leadership Summit and then began handwashing my kitchen floors. The second speaker was a woman by the name of Christine Caine. I had never heard of her before, but I was captivated from the very beginning. She spoke powerfully and with authority as she shared the Word of God and invited others to join her in the fight against human and sex trafficking. I suddenly found myself with a wet rag in hand, sitting on my kitchen floor with a stream of tears rolling down my face. The tears were a clue that something big was going on: I am not a cryer in general. The only thing I cry at are Hallmark movies. “God, where are these tears coming from?” I had to ask.
Fourteen years later, God revealed to me—at least in part—the purpose of his undeniable presence in that moment. Feeling a release from my fifteen-year journey as a Children’s Ministry Director, God sat me across the table from Christine Caine at a dinner in California. It was here that she and my good friend, Tara Beth Leach, dreamed and passionately conversed about God’s role for women in the church. Ten months later, I am humbled to be coming alongside them and an amazing group of diverse women to launch a new ministry called Ecclesia: Cohorts for Women in Ministry. A place for women to go that takes them further than a 2-day conference for mentoring, wisdom, and coaching. A chance to flourish in their God-given gifts for God’s greater purpose and mission.
Giving up my pension and quitting a job where I was about to get tenure? It didn’t make sense. Finding myself sitting on my kitchen floor crying? That didn’t make sense either. Just as Mary likely had questions that didn’t make sense, we may as well. I am thankful the Holy Spirit continued to nudge me to follow God’s calling and purpose.
What is the Holy Spirit nudging you to do? It is not wrong to have a range of emotions—confused, fearful, or overwhelmed—but through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can respond as Mary did, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
Bethany Hammer is the coordinator for Propel Ecclesia: Cohorts for Women in Ministry and is finishing up her Master of Arts in New Testament. She has a heart and passion for women to recognize their God-ordained potential and to use their gifts to advance God’s Kingdom. She is a wife to Ryan of 14 years, and mom to three fun-loving children, Joey (12), Lily (9), and Eleni (5).