Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features an amazing minister on this blog. Today, we are pleased to interview Robin Drake. Robin IS what a minister looks like!
Robin, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
My ministry journey has been and continues to be complex. It is a deconstruction of my learned fear-driven, guilt-ridden, people-oppressing theology and reconstruction to a grace-filled, love-centered, and people-affirming theology. It is a journey filled with pain and doubt, hope and uncertainty, but also of faith
I grew up in evangelical conservative churches. From an early age, I heard messages about a woman’s role in the church. Women could not lead a church. They could not be pastors. I served in women’s ministries for twenty plus years leading Bible studies, teaching women’s Sunday School classes, and serving as a mentor.
As my children grew up, I felt God calling me to seminary. I had no idea what God had in mind though. Even when I entered seminary, I did not believe that women could lead or teach men. At seminary, I began to listen to the stories and experiences of my fellow women seminarians. I attended Baptist Women in Ministry panels and conferences. I heard women preach. Oh – could they preach. I remember being blown away by Aurelia Davila Pratt, Kyndall Rothhaus, and Bishop Vashti McKenzie. I heard women of God preach with elegance, depth, and conviction. It made me question my learned beliefs.
So, I asked the Spirit to guide me as I returned to scripture. As I looked at the particular scriptures used to keep women from full participation in the church, I saw that the “restrictive passages” were not written to restrict the roles and gifts of women but were written to address issues in those churches. They were written that all things would be done decently in order.
As I looked at the whole of scripture, I saw women as leaders and proclaimers: Mary Magdalene–the first to proclaim the resurrection, Lydia–a teacher and minister, Junia–prominent among the apostles, Phoebe–a deacon, Miriam, Huldah, and Deborah–Old Testament prophets, and multiple others.
My search found that there was no overarching mandate of restricting women. In fact, it was just the opposite. Scripture testified to women leading and women preaching. Scripture instructed women to pray and prophesy. That was a big shift for me that opened other ministry possibilities.
Where God wanted me was still a mystery. My passion was for pastoral care. After graduating seminary, I did a one-year chaplain residency. I loved being able to walk alongside people in their lives and ministering to them. Chaplaincy checked a lot of the boxes but not all of them. Toward the end of my residency, I started looking at pastoral positions. As a pastor, I could walk alongside people throughout their lives, lead in the ordinances, and preach and teach.
A year passed before I was called as associate pastor of Agape Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. I have been serving here for almost a year now and it has been a true delight.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
That’s easy. It’s hearing from someone that my sermon, our lesson, or a statement I made gave them pause to think and think differently.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
The greatest challenge besides being a Baptist woman in ministry in the South? Initially, the biggest challenge was the switch from lay ministry to vocational ministry and the expectations placed on me. That challenge lasted about a month. Really the biggest challenge continues to be is taking care of myself. It’s finding the things that nourish me and the time to embrace them.
What is the best ministry advice you have received?
Find a spiritual director or therapist and build a support group of other women ministers.