One of the most interesting things about this sense of "need" is what it means for the women who discern it. While many woman in seminary experienced self-doubt and guilt, I noticed that the women motivated by a need they saw in the church were far less likely to experience angst about their calling. It was as if the urgency of the need overshadowed their fears, and alleviated them of feeling selfish. In other words, when women feel needed by the church, it encourages them to steward their gifts and serve the body of Christ with confidence.
This points to two takeaways. The first is that we in the church need to offer women solid, biblical resources, training, and education. Women want to be challenged, and they want to explore all the riches of their faith, which means we need to step up and take their training seriously. Further, we must provide opportunities for women to be able to use these skills to help others engage the Bible.
The second takeaway dovetails with the first: We must tell women we need them. Not only because we do need them, but because vocalizing that need will empower women toward leadership. Women should not feel selfish for stewarding their gifts. God gives women gifts to be used for his glory and the strengthening of the church. If women feel guilty for using their gifts, it only highlights a gap in our theology.
Although I interviewed these women for my doctoral research, the conversations were really a gift to me. In the short amount of time I spent with each woman, it was clear to me that God's hand was on them. God is raising up a generation of women who are eager to serve him and be equipped for the task—and sometimes that means attending seminary. This shouldn't be surprising, but it is exciting. God is on the move.