Dr. Patti Patterson, Crystal Silva McCormick, Dr. Beth Robinson, and Dr. Nancy Shankle Jordan spoke to men and women alike at the final event for Lubbock Christian University’s Vocation Initiative, Herstory: Women and Vocation.
When young Dr. Patti Patterson heard her preacher read Galatians 3:28 at a Sunday night service, she realized she was able, as a woman, to follow her calling.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” –Galatians 3:28
Paul’s words in Galatians caused Dr. Patterson to ask herself if she was holding back on pursuing her passions because it was the “right” thing to do in a time when women were supposed to stay at home and bake cookies. Dr. Patterson ultimately realized her capability and became a first-generation college student at LCU.
During Dr. Patterson’s time here, Dr. Gary Estep encouraged her to pursue medical school. Despite the odds, this first generation woman from the small town of Hale Center pursued medical school and succeeded. Dr. Patterson is now a child protection pediatrician and works with the most severe cases of child abuse. When she is asked how she can work in such a heart-breaking field, she answers, “I am gifted to do that.”
She now encourages students to follow what they feel called to do despite gender stereotypes, and when asked how to respond to criticism she says, “If you’re not being criticized, you’re not doing anything. Ignore the criticism.”
Crystal Silva McCormick was listening to a sports program recently on bullying in the NFL when the broadcaster claimed such behavior was natural for the league, adding that if a player can’t handle it then they are just “a bunch of little girls.” This gender insult did not settle well with McCormick, a self-proclaimed feminist, who encouraged the crowd to be mindful of the words they say.
McCormick graduated with a degree in Missions from LCU and has since attended seminary to receive her doctorate. During a ceremony to dedicate their lives to the ministry of Jesus, McCormick recalls being stunned to see a female hold the bread and cup and pray before the oath. That moment tore down her ideas on what she could and couldn’t do as a female in the church, and was the first time McCormick pictured herself behind the pulpit.
McCormick explains the moment’s significance, “You cannot be what you cannot see.” Though McCormick is gifted in speaking and teaching, there was always an invisible wall that made her believe she shouldn’t preach. Once she witnessed another female stepping into that role, that wall came down. Since she decided to follow her calling, despite gender stereotypes, McCormick says she no longer feels lost.
McCormick recognizes that though many in the audience may disagree with her stance on female roles in the church, she appreciated the fact that the audience had enough respect to sit and hear her.
When Dr. Beth Robinson was in the 2nd grade she was spanked at school for playing football with the boys after teachers told her she couldn’t. This was the first time in her childhood that her parents didn’t discipline her as well, paving the way for Dr. Robinson’s views about her capabilities as a female.
This distinguished counselor never intended to do counseling; she originally walked away from an acceptance into medical school to coach high school basketball. After witnessing the sexual harassment in the athletic department of that school district, Dr. Robinson was forced to silently leave her job and take up a coaching position at Cal Farley’s Boy’s Ranch. It was during her teaching career there that the principal took note of her ability to relate and help the troubled teens, and Dr. Robinson was encouraged to pursue counseling.
“God wanted me to do something much different because of my giftedness,” Dr. Robinson admitted to the crowd. “I feel called to keep kids safe.”
Dr. Robinson says she could’ve been happy and successful coaching, but has since realized that God has given her talents and her singleness so that she is able to sit with children in their darkest moments.
Dr. Nancy Shackle-Jordan had a desire to become a college professor at the age of fourteen, and nothing in life swayed her from pursuing that dream. Along the way, many well-intentioned adults told her she could be a primary educator, but teaching at the collegiate level was not the place for a woman. Others told her it was wrong of her to pursue a doctorate degree and that she should instead stay at home and support her husband while he pursued his doctorate degree. Dr. Jordan chose to ignore the critics because ultimately she will one day face God and be accountable for how she used her talents.
Dr. Jordan gave five points for the LCU community to consider when seeking their vocation.
1. Find something that fills you with joy
2. Seek advice from mature Christian mentors
3. Take note on what others believe your gifts are
4. Don’t make decisions based on money, prestige, or fear of judgment
5. Pray in advance that God will make your path clear and bring you counsel
Based on her own experience, Dr. Jordan reminded the audience that they are not living someone else’s expectations, but their own.
The Herstory conference concluded with a question and answer panel discussion. During this time a point was made from an audience member about the women’s stories: If we only hear the male voice, we are only hearing half of God. Each of the Herstory speakers received criticism and judgment along their vocational journey because of their gender. They encourage today’s generation to keep conversations going, do what they can to advocate for change at their level, and ask “why not?”
“…may God make you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” –2 Thessalonians 1:11-12