Kristen Padilla: My Father’s Gift—a Practicum for Ministry

Kristen Padilla’s father, pastor Mark Lindsey (Photo: Kristen Padilla)

I found myself at age 35 in a hospital hallway waiting my turn to visit my 92-year-old friend, Frauken, who was in the ICU with pneumonia. As I waited, my mind entered into the graveyard of forgotten memories.

The graveyard of forgotten memories

Two months earlier, I sat in my office at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, across a desk from Greg Garrison, a reporter with AL.com there to interview me about my book, Now that I’m Called: A Guide for Women Discerning a Call to Ministry.

Poised and ready for my interview, I was caught off-guard by a simple question: “What does your dad believe about women in ministry?”

To Garrison, this was an obvious question to ask. My dad has been a Southern Baptist pastor for most of my life. Given my age, my calling, what Baptists generally believe about women in ministry and now my book, one could assume my dad and I have had this conversation. However, I’d never asked my dad or myself the question.

“I don’t know,” I responded immediately.

Entering the graveyard of forgotten memories, I wondered: “Have I buried a conversation with my dad about his view of women in ministry? What did he believe?”

A special kind of ministry practicum

Kristen Padilla with her father, Mark Lindsey
(Photo: Kristen Padilla)

The summer before my sophomore year of high school, during a summer camp called Super Summer, I surrendered to a call to vocational ministry. Upon returning home, I announced the call to my parents and then my church. Looking back, I realize I wrestled with a call to ministry for years.

If I was a boy, I would have announced my calling boldly and unreservedly much earlier, perhaps as early as age 10. By age 8, I cried to my parents, “Why didn’t God make me a boy so I could be a preacher?” I didn’t despise being a girl. I just felt called to something off limits to girls.

As I tiptoed through my forgotten memories, searching for a buried conversation with my dad or even one-off comments he made about women in ministry, I uncovered some memories I didn’t expect to find.

I was 5 years old when I first met Geraldine. She and her husband were members of the small, rural East Texas church my father pastored.

My first memory of Geraldine was in her home. My parents took my sister Kim and me one evening to visit Geraldine on the eve of her heart bypass surgery. While Kim and I were playing, I studied the way my dad spoke to Geraldine and placed his hand on her shoulder to pray.

This first memory faded as another emerged. Walking down a sterile hospital hallway with my mother and sister to meet my father, we passed Geraldine’s sobbing husband, barely able to walk, borne along by a nurse on each side. His sobs shook my little frame.

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Source: Baptist Standard