I am a strong woman.
It works against me and it works for me, depending on the day.
But even though I might be strong, I’m also possibly the most sensitive person you’ve ever met and you’ve probably never even realized it. Sometimes when I’m at my most vulnerable I pretend to be my most strong.
I’ve grown up being more than encouraged by my family that I matter as a woman and that God loves me just as much as a man; and that because I am a woman I have no less to contribute to this world than the male gender does. I have been raised by parents who have shown me that women can and should lead right alongside men. I’ve been raised by parents who view marriage as a mutually submissive relationship. And so naturally, I’ve learned to lead. Not just that, I’ve learned to love leading.
I am mentored by two women who inspire me with their gifts and abilities and their love for the Lord and boy oh boy, are they women who can lead!
This year I’ve been overwhelmed to find out that there are quite a number of people around me don’t believe that God designed women to be pastors and teachers in the church. This past summer I spent my time doing a pastoral and teaching internship.
Can you feel the tension here?
I know that there are a large group of people who live with this belief but I didn’t know they were so close to me.
You see I’m convinced that it in fact is biblical for women to lead and I’ve done some study on the topic. But I don’t write this to get into some type of biblical or theological debate because I don’t actually think that will make any difference. For me there’s another side to consider, it’s the side that I don’t think some of these people see. It is the sensitive under the strong.
It’s the question of whether you really realize the implications of what you’re saying, what you believe and what you hold to? It’s the fact that most often it becomes about power, about making others feel small.
Whether I have to sit on a certain side of the church.
Or whether I’m not permitted to speak.
Or perhaps just not permitted to teach.
Or I have to be called a director and not a pastor when I the same credentials as you.
Whatever it is, do you realize you’ve put me in a box?
Because what happens when God has given me a story to tell?
What happens when I have gifts to lead?
What about when I sense every door open to be a pastor? When I hear God whisper the word “lead” to me?
Am I to listen to your word, to your interpretation and not God’s leading in my very own life?
There is this story; it’s actually a scene from a movie that my Dad loves. He’s told me the story so often that it’s ingrained into my mind. It’s from the old classic “Chariots of Fire”. Here’s a brief synopsis of the movie…
The story, told in a flashback, of two young British sprinters competing for fame in the 1924 Olympics. Eric, a devout Scottish missionary runs because he knows it must please God. Harold, the song of a newly rich Jew runs to prove his place in Cambridge society. In a warmup 100 meter race, Eric defeats Harold, who hires a pro trainer to prepare him. Eric, whose qualifying heat is scheduled for Sunday, refuses to run despite pressure from the Olympic committee. A compromise is reached when a nobleman allows Eric to compete in his 400 meter slot. Eric and Harold win their respective races and go on to achieve fame as missionary and businessman/athletic advocate, respectively.
When Eric Liddell accidentally missed a church prayer meeting because of his running, his sister Jennie scolds him and accuses him of no longer caring about God. Eric tells her that though he intends to eventually return to the China mission, he feels divinely inspired when running, and that not to run would be to dishonour God: "I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure."
I love this part of the movie purely for what I believe is its insight into the very heart of God. To not run would be to dishonor God because God created Eric to run, so choosing not to run would be living in a way that is untrue to how God made him.
So what if God made me to lead and to teach? What if somehow I come alive when I lead? Would it be dishonouring to God to choose not to live and act in a way that He created me to?
This isn’t really even about me personally. I’m not sure I want to be a pastor and when it comes down to it, I personally probably prefer the lead pastor to be a man. But I had a chance this summer to do a 3 week teaching series as a part of my pastoral internship and I loved it. I loved what I learned about God and His word through my study and message preparation and I love that I got to share that with people. And I do love to lead and there are situations that I get put in where I feel like to not lead would be a denial of the gifts that God has entrusted me with.
So there’s this tension when I cross paths with the “women shouldn’t lead because God didn’t mean for them to” mentality, simply because I cannot in any way believe that there is a solid foundation for its truth. And if you really know me and you still believe this, then what does that say about how you view me as a person?
What I’m not trying to do is go on some feminist power trip here. I actually do think there are certain roles that men and women should have that cannot actually overlap. I have some male friends who lead in a way and demand a respect that I’m still uncertain a woman ever could. But does that mean it couldn’t happen and does that mean that it shouldn’t?
Because in the end I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me to lead, and when I lead, I feel His pleasure.
P.S. I'm not a feminist, just for the record.
P.S. I'm not a feminist, just for the record.