Dunn acknowledges the real challenges of all the roles she must play, remarking on the awkward experience of having to leave class to go pump breastmilk in a public restroom. When the going gets tough, she states, “I remind myself that I am following God’s call and that my children will benefit from me being an example of following God even when it isn't easy. I want my two girls to see their mom do whatever it takes to follow after the call God so clearly spoke to her.”
Dr. Naima Lett heard and answered the call to seminary twice—she has a master’s from Dallas Theological Seminary and was the first woman to receive a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Talbot School of Theology. In her first year of both seminary and marriage, her husband was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and she found herself commuting between his chemotherapy appointments and her classes. “There were many days when I did not know if I was coming or going. Everyone from the president to the professors to the students came alongside and surrounded us with tangible acts of love when we needed it the most,” she reflects.
Now co-pastoring the church she and her husband planted in Beverly Hills five years ago, Dr. Lett notes that the biggest barriers she’s experienced in her quest for education weren’t the money or time, but rather other Christians—including pastors—who didn’t believe women should preach or pastor. After a conversation about ordination, she recalls, “Our pastor insisted that I get a doctor of preaching degree, and then revealed that he did not believe women could preach after I was midway through my first semester.” She had to complete her preaching assignments outside of her local faith community and find support elsewhere. Lett adds, “Ministry does not happen in a vacuum. If God calls you to seminary, he will provide everything that you need to complete the journey. Our part is to say ‘yes’ and proceed one day at a time.”
These kind of stories can be inspiring: “If these women can face their obstacles, so can you!” But they can also generate a sense of shame for not being able to do what others have—and Lord knows women get enough guilt from Pinterest about everything they’re not doing. I don’t share these stories with you to shame you into action, but rather to demonstrate how God shows up in the lives of the people who started with just one step forward in the direction God was calling. If you feel a call toward seminary, this is your encouragement not to focus on the finish line, but simply the first step.