“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
For the past 3 years, I have spent two weeks in the month of June with 16 men.
I enrolled in Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to pursue my Doctor of Ministry Degree. I was the only female in “The Preacher and the Message” cohort. The majority of my classmates were pastors who came from all across the United States, Canada, and Ethiopia.
Although my fellow classmates were always kind towards me, I learned “private conversations” occurred in my absence about women in ministry. As you might imagine, some of my fellow cohorts felt I shouldn’t be there.
On Saturday, May 10, 2013, I graduated from Gordon-Conwell with my Doctor of Ministry Degree. As we lined-up for the processional, I looked around and noticed that only 7 (out of 17) from my cohort had finished this race.
Guess who was missing? The ones who said that I shouldn’t be here.
My journey to completing my DMin was not easy, especially as a single parent. First of all, this journey required sacrifice.
Financially it was a burden. As the only female in the cohort, I had to cover two weeks of hotel expenses alone. The guys shared rooms, which cut their hotel costs.
I also had to work full time, take on a part-time job, and function as a single parent.
I felt I had failed terribly during my MDiv studies being a good parent to my daughter, Taylor. I was not going to make that mistake again. No matter how long my work day, or how late I needed to stay up to complete DMin work, Taylor’s extra-curricular activities at school came first.
This journey also required support. I know without a doubt I did not complete this journey alone.
My mother was instrumental in providing care for Taylor, so I could go away for school, study, and get the job done!
My colleagues at Campbell University Divinity School provided the academic support I needed to complete my thesis-project.
Baptist Women in Ministry, NC provided financial support through a DMin grant I received to conduct my research.
Most of all, I had a host of good friends, students, and family members who prayed for me and kept me encouraged.
Most importantly, completing this theological journey required the Savior.
Time and time again I had to tell myself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This theological journey was not easy.
There was always added pressure to prove myself and make others see God did call me, and I did belong here! I spent a lot of time praying for strength to complete the journey, praying for guidance on how to be a good mother, and praying for my brothers in the cohort.
I prayed God would touch their hearts and use me as a vessel to change their views towards women in ministry. Although some in my cohort continue to struggle with women in ministry, others have shared with me (privately, of course) that they are beginning to see things differently.
For this I say, to God be the Glory!
Reverend Doctor Lynn Brinkley is mother to Taylor and Director of Student Services at Campbell University Divinity School, where women’s gifts and calling are celebrated. An experienced preacher, Dr. Brinkley utilized her DMin studies to create a manual for preaching etiquette for guest preachers and host churches.