I have a Bachelor of Applied Theology and a Diploma in Pastoral Leadership from Carey. Technically I haven’t graduated yet because COVID-19 restrictions did not permit the normal graduation ceremony in April. My children and husband getting to see me capped is something significant for us as a family after the difficulty of studying. Therefore I opted not to graduate in absentia, and will instead wait till the next graduation is held.

Carey gave me and my fellow students the opportunity to think about the church for three years. We have thought about what is good about the church. We have thought about what might be broken about the church. We have thought about the ways in which Te Wairua Tapu might be calling us to be the church in different ways. 

These discussions and thoughts have been a catalyst causing me to see the church as God’s idea, not ours. They also gave rise to a big question which needed settling: can God—no, is God—calling me, a woman, to lead his church? Would God call a mother of three young kids to commit herself to the church?  

I was raised in a home with equal partnership between my parents. I saw Dad cooking as much as Mum, and she led us just as much as Dad. Yet underneath I had a big question of the validity of my call, simply due to gender.

It took God himself asking me at Hui three years ago, “How come you say your husband is called first to be a father and a husband and yet you bless him working 50 hours a week?” God challenged my double standards and I had to reply, “OK, you are right.” I had nowhere left to run. God has called me.  

Joel 2:28-29 says that God will pour his Spirit out on all. Men and women. Old and young. Mature and childlike. We are living in strange times. I believe the Spirit is calling many unexpected people and motivating our young women, our old men, our older women, and those living in the margins. Do we listen to what he is saying? Do we tell those people there is a call on their life? Because often, like me, they are fearful to act on his calling. God places us in community and then he uses us to encourage and empower and equip each other.  

To graduate at a time like this was sad! We had looked forward to the celebration of the work. But it also meant I again had to do business with God. His is the validation that I must seek and also be satisfied with. Likewise, it is his leading that I follow in the work we do now. My call meeting was postponed due to COVID-19, and again this means I can’t escape that the calling on my life is from him, and the work given to me at this time, paid or not, is also from him.

Contributor: Monique Lee