• Eileen Slattery Berglund

The Time I Almost Walked Away From My Calling

“Calling.” It’s such a powerful, coveted word in Christian circles. We all pray for God to reveal our calling but when He does, it is often not at all what we expected or even wanted. Callings can be scary. Callings can plunge you head first into an arena you never wanted to be in. Callings invite opposition. Such was the case with me when I heard God speak clearly to me regarding my purpose in the Body of Christ and here on Earth.


It was close to 15 years ago, when I found myself sitting beside a pristine mountain creek in the midst of the Transylvanian Alps. God had brought me to Romania, through a supernatural set of circumstances, to teach the Bible to women at a camp in the mountains. At the end of what was an astounding week, I walked across the fields of sheep and cattle, down the rocky hills, to prop myself on a rock and tuck into the beauty of this God made landscape. It truly refreshed my soul and has been known as my Psalm 23 place ever since.


It was here, against the backdrop of the rushing waters and clean air that I heard God speak clearly. He said, “Eileen, my daughter, you can no longer ignore half the body of Christ.”


I began to tear up because I knew exactly what He meant. Up until this point, I had been “in ministry” for quite some time. My primary gifting was teaching and I used it to lead Bible studies, prayer meetings, outreaches, you name it. I even organized city wide conferences. But all of it was for women. And only for women.


God was now calling me to let the men in. To treat them like my brothers in Christ.

To share the gift Holy Spirit put within me with them. To be real with them. To be vulnerable before them. To be authoritative in their midst. To teach the men who wanted to learn. To pray for them. To lay hands on them.


And I didn’t want to.


As I sat on that rock, my soul was straddled between perfect peace and now impending fear. I knew God was asking me to take a risk on Him. I knew I wanted to obey. I also knew it wouldn’t be easy.


Church culture very much separated the men and women. Yes, we all came in and out the same door and heard the same message on Sunday morning, but beyond that gender roles were in full swing and everyone just seemed to keep in step with that culture. The problem was, God was asking me to bring His Kingdom culture into the church- and I said yes, knowing there would be a definite clash of kingdoms.


I had been married for over 10 years at this point and was deeply in love with my husband. But I wasn’t a big fan of other men. I didn’t trust them. I didn’t really think I even needed to concern myself with them. I was pleasant and kind and interacted with them in a “normal” way, but I never gave of myself to the men the way I gave of myself to the women.


Clearly, I am not speaking of anything sexual here. I just mean that with women, my sisters in Christ, I was able to speak boldly and intelligently. I could lay hands on them and pray and weep and join with the Spirit to prophesy and encourage and edify them in Christ. It was safe. No one would accuse me of anything.


At the time, at least in my sphere, there were no women leading conferences for both men and women. Even most women’s meetings required a male “covering” to be present. When people prayed in public prayer sessions for each other, only men would lay hands on men and only women would lay hands on women. It was sort of ridiculous as opposite sex brothers or sisters would “hover” their hand inches off the person being prayed for, careful not to possibly touch them. No one would even ask “is it okay if I lay my hands on you?” as the Spirit was clearly leading them. It was seen as too taboo. Too risky. Too scary.


Yeah, well, I kind of blew the lid off of that. Once I knew God had clearly called me to bridge the gender gap and work to bring true unity to His Body, I kind of went “all in”. The first thing I did was talk through this all with my husband. He was delighted and on the same page as God. He didn’t want to see me limiting the gifts that God had put within me. He trusted me to conduct myself in a manner pleasing to God. We had a strong marriage with good communication which I think is the only reason I even made it through what was to come! I also had an accountability partner with whom I would share everything. If I ever was getting off track or acting out of my flesh, she or my husband would call me on it! This proved to be a vital lifeline to me in the days to come when all hell would break loose with false accusations. It also proved to be a gift of God’s faithfulness to me, a place of immunity and truth and comfort when the enemy tried everything he could to destroy me and keep me from operating in my call.


Today, it has been about 15 years since all of this took place. I have healed up, re-engaged and am going strong for God’s Kingdom. When I said yes to God, I knew there would be a cost. I knew it. But I decided it would be worth it. It may have taken me a while to learn how to navigate my giftings and wield my sword against the powers and principalities of this world, but I believe I’m well on my way. My hope now is that I can be there for others as they learn to count the cost, say yes, and walk out their God given call.

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