When I think of being a leader in my work and a young mother at home, one word comes to mind over and over: willingness.
As a teenager and young woman, I was taught in no uncertain terms that my primary role in life—the ultimate call that all other calls would revolve around—was to support my husband’s call and to raise my children. I could do other things, sure—as long as I was home most of the time and my work never inconvenienced my husband or took my time away from our children. I was taught that this is how to be a godly woman.
In my late 20s, I began to learn that the idea of godly womanhood that I was taught is not an idea that God teaches. I learned that God teaches me to follow whatever call God puts on my life—and through my experience staying home all the time with my babies, I learned that my call was not at home. I love my family passionately and I love spending time with them—but my own gifts and callings are not those of a homemaker. I have friends who are gifted housewives, and I believe that is a beautiful ministry—but it is not my ministry. I persistently heard God calling me to ministry outside my home, and slowly, I became able to heed that call.
In my early 30s, I was starting a house church and studying in seminary, and I was happy for my ministry to be a small and quiet one, where I could help people while remaining in the background. I knew I could lead—but I didn’t particularly want to lead. Then one day, I learned that even among groups that are intentionally egalitarian, there are few women leaders in Christian organizations. I thought about my life, and I wondered: if, as a child, I had seen women in ministerial leadership, would it have taken me until my 30s to realize that I could be a leader, too? Maybe not. And so I became willing to become a leader in an organization, should the opportunity ever arise. You know—someday.
“Someday” came much sooner than I expected in the form of my current calling to be the Director of Belize Friends Ministries for Friends United Meeting. While my children are still little, I have the opportunity to be a leader in an organization that is educating at-risk youth, providing a place to worship in the Quaker way, and running programs to increase the peace of a troubled neighborhood. It is an organization that has purposefully looked for where the Holy Spirit is working and is joining people within the Southside neighborhood of Belize City in that work. It is coming alongside concerned citizens and bolstering their efforts with resources and training. I believe in this work, and I’m so grateful and excited to get a chance to participate in it.
Friends’ ministry in Belize is much bigger than any one person. It is a genuine movement of the Holy Spirit. In the process of discerning if I was being called to go to Belize, I realized that what I mainly am is willing. My family is willing. I don’t have all the answers—but I am willing. I am willing to go and see what I can do to support the work that is happening there, even while I remain committed to supporting my family and the work that we are doing at home.
With Isaiah, I say, Here I am, Lord. Here I am, Friends. Send me. —Nikki Holland
Donations for Nikki's leadership with Belize Friends Ministries may be made through DonorBox, here.