12 Sep Amanda Nash – My Leadership Journey
I grew up with a strong feminist mother in a liberal home. My mother had been a Methodist but had abandoned her faith in her 20s. She always talked about empowering me. She taught me that I didn’t need to be ashamed of being a strong woman. She told me that I had the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be and do what I wanted to do. (She even sat me down when I was 13 to let me know if I decided to start having sex, just to let her know so she could get me on birth control.) I was naturally a rebellious child, and in many ways, I responded by rejecting much of her liberal worldview. I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and certainly didn’t have sex.
When I decided to start following Jesus in my teenage years, I naturally gravitated towards leadership. I started a Christian group in my high school that grew to 40 people. I wanted to take a year off before college and be a missionary, but my parents refused to let me go. I ripped up my college applications in protest – but my mother wouldn’t budge. I ended up going to a college I had applied to early as a “safety school.” Luckily it was near a Vineyard Church and I quickly got involved. I started another small group that grew to 50. I decided to major in Religion and English Literature to learn the world of faith in both religious and story forms.
Then something happened in my early college years. I got introduced to a Christian organization that taught that certain leadership roles were reserved for men. I also learned that I needed to find a man who could “lead me” if I wanted to date or marry. I had aligned my mother’s liberal influence as a position incompatible with faith, so I adopted this new worldview as the “right” Christian viewpoint. I began trying to hold back my leadership. I looked for men to encourage and promote to lead my group. I refused to date guys who weren’t “strong enough” for my personality (which meant I didn’t date at all!), and I abandoned any intentional plans do vocational ministry. I didn’t stay connected with that organization but its influence on me remained.
The Vineyard Movement had a stance that embraced women at all levels of leadership, but I rarely saw a woman leading or preaching on the weekends. I still felt an internal divide about my own calling and what I had been taught about women, so I decided to plunge into the theology of women in leadership. I found a lot of encouragement in what I studied, but more than theology, it was the presence of advocates that helped me finally accept my call. The first pastor I met in the Vineyard Church was Mark Tindall. He told me he saw leadership in me and encouraged me to start a small group. A year later, I interned for another pastor named Eric Pickerill. He took me under his wing and taught me the value of building a strong team. He pushed me to risk and gave me a lot of freedom to try ministry. He began to open doors for me to get connected with other pastors and leaders on staff. After graduation, I interned for one of our two female pastors on staff, Marlene Nathan. She encouraged my gifts as Eric had and paved the way for me to come on staff full time as a Research Assistant for our Senior Pastor, Rich Nathan. The three years I spent as a Research Assistant, I experienced even more advocacy. Rich mentored me theologically, encouraged me to read even more than I had in my undergraduate years. He encouraged me in my skills of writing, leadership, and preaching.
I would like to say that, being a strong woman, I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps. But the truth is, I needed men and women in leadership to open doors for me and recognize pastoral calling on my life. They gave me the confidence I needed to respond to the call of God. I think that if our movement is going to see many more women step into influential positions of pastoral leadership, we will need advocates to help us get there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Nash has worked on staff at Vineyard Columbus since 2002. She started out working as Pastor Rich Nathan’s Research Assistant and then moved into working for the 20something ministry called Joshua House. In 2008 she moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands to plant a church with a team from Vineyard Columbus for 3 years. She returned to Vineyard Columbus and now currently serves as the Community Life Pastor overseeing small groups, men’s, women’s and singles ministries. She has been married for over 13 years and has 3 children.