I was twenty years old when I preached my first sermon, and I can tell you right now it was not so much preaching as reading anxiously from a manuscript. Two of my friends and I were asked to preach on a Sunday evening at First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to celebrate the church’s college ministry. That evening we led worship in the smaller chapel with a congregation of about seventy-five people. I was fully confident that nothing I had to say would be original or of interest to anyone there. My voice simply had to fill five whole minutes.

I agonized over every word as I tried to share my spiritual journey. Really, who comes up with these topics? Share your spiritual journey in five minutes? That’s like asking your mother to explain her favorite cake recipe in five minutes! It is personal, complicated, and maybe not what you want to share with seventy-five strangers. But, I did it. My primary emotion after my first sermon was relief.

Recently, my nine-year-old daughter, Eve, was asked to write and present a reading on freedom for the 11 a.m. worship service at our church. The children’s director asked me to ask Eve to participate. As soon as the words “read in worship” left my lips, Eve exclaimed, “Preach! I’d love to preach. When is it?” For a few days I tried to clarify for Eve that she would simply be doing a two-three minute reading. But once she went to VBS and told everyone that she was preaching on Sunday, I gave up. I agreed to let her preach. Together we wrote three paragraphs about freedom. Her idea was to talk about Moses leading the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Her third grade school class had studied slavery in the United States, and she wanted to connect that history to God’s people. Over several days she and I drafted, edited, and condensed her words. Not once did she doubt the value of her words nor fear proclaiming them in front of a congregation. She was just pleased to preach.  She did admit to getting nervous just before she stood in front of the sanctuary filled with about two hundred congregants. But soon her voice rang out with words about God calling people to freedom.

I preached my first sermon with great self doubt and misgiving when I was a sophomore in college. Until I attended First Baptist in Winston-Salem, I had never heard a female preacher. Eve attends a church where she hears the preaching voice of a woman every Sunday. And she has heard her Mom–no longer quaking in her boots but welcoming each preaching opportunity–preach. I believe that it matters if  a young girl sees and hears a woman in the pulpit. The preacher models to the girl what she can do and be when she grows up. The preaching voice of a woman gives confidence to the budding voices of girls.

I am awed by my daughter who exclaimed, “Preach?! I’d love to.” May there be many more daughters who respond with the same enthusiasm.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.