Call Me, Maybe?

This week at Velvet Ashes, for the first time ever, we’ve invited men to come share with us.  So each day we have a guy writing on the theme “What Men Wish We Knew.”  Today we’re thrilled to have Nicholas Todd, husband to Velvet Ashes’ author and editor, Kimberly Todd, here with us.  Nicholas has been an encourager of this community here since before we even began.  Read on and you’ll understand why we asked him to share with us…

I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. I didn’t think much of my list of job references until someone else pointed it out. Almost all of my professional references were women. They weren’t just references that confirm I had a job, but references that, based on the jobs I was applying for, would speak to my character, professional contribution, spiritual life, weaknesses, and strengths in ministry. It might seem like a small detail, but what if that was the thing preventing me from being employed? As I reflected on this gender charged powder keg of a topic, four things were stuck on repeat in my head that reminded me of my values and what was valuable about my references and you.

I wish the women of Velvet Ashes knew how important they are to their teams. Whether you sit in the place of Chairperson or are the last to sit at the dinner table, you hold a valuable place. Are you being obedient to the calling God has placed on your life? Let that be the voice you follow.

I wish you knew your opinion and input is just as valuable as anybody else’s. If the Lord gives you something to share, share confidently.

I wish you knew if you weren’t here, there would be a hole in teams, families, administration, leadership, member care, and ministry.

I wish you could remember the trouble with many men is ultimately the trouble with many women. We BOTH need, not so much a vision for outreach, a vision for family, or a vision for ministry, but a vision for Jesus. Together, we can explore how our heart should respond to others.

Women are absolutely essential to the ministry of the Church. They traveled with Jesus and the Twelve, were present at the cross, were the first to believe of his resurrection, and testified to his being raised (Luke 8:1-3, John 19:25, Luke 24:8-11). My personal favorite is Mary Magdalene at the tomb in John 20. She knew the sound of her name on her Savior’s lips! Do you? I often hope I would be more like Mary in this life, that I would recognize my name coming from my Savior’s lips, and respond obediently.

In the end I changed nothing about my references. The women listed as my references were the absolute best people that could speak to my character, professional contribution, spiritual life, weaknesses, and strengths in ministry. If someone in ministry didn’t want me because almost all my references were women, I didn’t want to work for them.

I got my dream job, by the way, and recognizing that God and others are responsible for the accomplishments in my life, multitudes of thanks to all that poured into this vessel, especially the women. The Jesus loving, tongue holding, Truth speaking, classroom teaching, Church challenging, references that inspire me to pour into others, men and women alike.

To what role has God called you? Do you believe it’s important?

Photo Credit : Nicholas Todd

13 Comments

  1. Elizabeth October 13, 2014

    This is so important! Do what God has called you to do. I think it’s especially important for women, who often feel like afterthoughts on the field, and who are sometimes forced into pre-determined jobs and roles. As Ephesians 4:16 says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” We all do better when we do our own special work, instead of trying to squeeze ourselves into one-size-fits-all molds. 🙂

    1. Nicholas Todd October 14, 2014

      Some of my experience has led me to people (men and women alike) that have been put into roles that don’t fit the skills and calling, but fit gender expectations. Some expect men to always be a leader; this can be a huge burden to the man that isn’t equipped or is called to something else. Women experience the same sort of phenomenon – put into a place based purely on gender and not calling and skills. This misplaced weight can be devastating to moral, a team, a family! I liked what you said, Elizabeth, about the one-size mold. You’re right!

  2. laura r October 15, 2014

    Yes.

    These words…

    “I wish you could remember the trouble with many men is ultimately the trouble with many women. We BOTH need, not so much a vision for outreach, a vision for family, or a vision for ministry, but a vision for Jesus. Together, we can explore how our heart should respond to others.”

    TRUTH.

    1. Nicholas Todd October 15, 2014

      Laura – this is something that is sometimes really really easy to miss when working with diverse teams, with people from different backgrounds, and with different expectations on what women should be doing or what men should be doing. But men and women are in it together, right? And we are both trying to love Christ, right? That thought helps me deal with those that make community a little difficult at times.

  3. Sally Todd October 15, 2014

    “if you weren’t here, there would be a hole”  A confession: I leave holes often.  My obedience wavers in the day to day demands.  I am a fixer and a doer by nature and can turn away from that higher call to respond to the “needs” that surround me as well as avoid team issues and conflict by just doing whatever needs to be done.    I am sidetracked by my default response and what must be FIRST drops lower and lower on the priority list.  The harder thing is to stay at what His call requires , to hold my focus, to learn to tolerate not pleasing others,  to give a gentle “no” to be able to say “yes” to HIS voice.  A good word Nick.

    1. Nicholas Todd October 15, 2014

      You hit on something here. Saying ‘no’ to others so that you can say ‘yes’ to the Father. Just because you are good at something and have the space to do it doesn’t necessarily mean you should. YOU, Sally Todd, are a well trained medical practitioner caring for the people of Haiti. It would be easy to get distracted by all the need around you, but is that the place God has called you? It can be hard at times.

  4. Danielle Wheeler October 15, 2014

    Thank you again for this post, Nick, and for the way that you honor women with your life and your words.  You’re right, it’s all about knowing the voice of our Savior and his calling on our lives.  Love the reminder that his calling for each of us is unique.

    1. Nicholas Todd October 15, 2014

      I love how the Lord has drawn you in. You dreamed of serving, went to serve, and it wasn’t the dream you had. With @velvet_ashes you can truly deal with much of the loneliness that many feel after leaving their home with the online community that has been developed over the last year. I can’t believe it has almost been a year already. Thanks for your vision and following through!

  5. Ann Unruh October 15, 2014

    Thank you, Nick, for your wise and thoughtful words. Especially these: “Are you being obedient to the calling God has placed on your life? Let that be the voice you follow.” What my soul hears from these words is that I’m most beautiful when I am, when I live out, who He created me to be. It’s also when my soul feels most free. It’s so easy for women (me included) to compare and compete with each other. And it’s that kind of thinking that keeps me from hearing the Voice I really want to follow.

    1. Nicholas Todd October 16, 2014

      Ann – comparison can be really depressing. To the point that you question all the things that you are doing in obedience. For a good time I wished I was better at basketball because of the great opportunity to connect with students that love love loved it in China. I felt bad when I saw other Workers on the basketball court sinking 3-pointers and drawing people in. What I forgot about in those moments was how I have been gifted and blessed in other areas that only I can use to connect to others. I may have been coming back from an incredible moment with a colleague or student, but forget as I watched the basketball court.

      It took time, but I am now SOOOOO comfortable watching others work. I get to celebrate and encourage others in their skills/gifts/opportunities/worship and go back to my zone of influence and worship there. Are you worshipping, Ann, in the place that God has directed you? =)

  6. Cecily Willard October 16, 2014

    I wish I could sit and have a conversation with you, Nicholas!  There are so many questions I have as a (single) woman in ministry.  I believe that the Lord has put so much on my heart concerning the church where He has placed me here in Eastern Europe, but from all appearances there is no room for what I would say because I am foreign, single, female.  Is God speaking to me, or am I out of my mind to even think that He would?

    1. Nicholas Todd October 16, 2014

      Cecily – *phew. With the questions you wrote above and what it sounds like you are going through, I TOO wish I could be there in person to have a conversation with you. I don’t know how long you have been at your location, but sometimes it can take a very long time for a couple things to happen – 1. YOU (or I), as the foreigner, figuring out the best way to go about working with local work being done. 2. Locals figuring out what to make of the foreigner (possibly) challenging the status quo for appropriate religious behavior.

      The balance between respecting leadership/what’s already in place and also contributing in a way that honors what God has called you to is a one that I have no answers to. But, we can pray. We can ask for wisdom. We can ask that our heart continue to stay soft to what he has called us to, but that our skin toughen so that we can deal with the words and actions that are sent our way by others. With people on our side, whether it be the Velvet Ashes community, or a team of people physically in proximity to you, we can better discern that which God has directed you to. Those people in my life I like to call my ‘board of directors’. I go to them with big vision, an aching heart, confusion on theology, and transparency in all things. They encourage, redirect, and pray earnestly for clarity in direction in my life. Do you have this or something like it?

      1. Cecily Willard October 16, 2014

        Oh, Nicholas!  I agree with you!  I so don’t want to waltz in and try to shove things down people’s throat.  God knows I see only a little bit of the situation, but I believe that I DO see something with fresh eyes.  I want to be able to make the appropriate contribution at the proper time in the best way.  I know how sensitive the situation is.  And, no, I don’t have a “board of directors.”  Actually, I feel quite alone in this.  I am hoping that I can take some time out in the next month or so to really sit with the Lord with all of the things that are on my heart and see if I can make sense of it all and find a way to present at least some of it, or at least just ask the right questions to try to gain a better understanding of things.  I know that my questions can be intimidating, no matter how gently I pose them, so, it’s something I definitely need help with!

        Would benefit greatly from a SKYPE conversation with you, but by even suggesting it, maybe I am violating all kinds of protocol here on VA.  All I have to say is  HELP!

        Thanks for investing your time in responding to my post above.  Bless you!

        And, by the way, I have been here since 2008, so have been observing and listening and investing in relationships for a while.

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