I take to my keyboard once again to pen some thoughts on an issue that hits close to home. Let me preface this by telling you a few things about myself. I grew up entrenched in religion. That religion communicated to me that the role of a woman was to be quiet and still and obedient. However, I also grew up in a household which was led by a true partnership and with a father who has always spoken empowerment over me. Fast forward 20 years when God, despite my ardent protests, called me to leadership. I now, at 27, am an ordained female pastor who serves in many different leadership positions.
I can honestly say that I never would have chosen this path for myself. In fact, I can look back on my life and admit that for most of it I was running and hiding from this calling. Yet, God dragged me into it (despite my kicking and screaming along the way). I say I wouldn’t have chosen this path and yet I know I was designed for it.
See, I have always had fire in my heart. This, more often than not, has resulted in a hot head and a quick tongue and great attempts by many to put me out. The thing about fire is that while it is incredibly powerful it is also quite dangerous, especially to dry brush and hard hearts. Because of this effort by many people in my life to extinguish my flames I became quite angry and arrogant and more resolved to burn brighter and hotter. I refused to give in; I refused to submit to anything; I refused to be tamed.
And that’s when they won.
That’s when they won because that’s when I became so focused on elevating and “proving” myself that I could no longer see the needs of other people. What good am I as a leader if I neglect those in my care?
This week some discussion has occurred in a space that I participate in regarding women leading men in the church. Arguments were made, lines drawn, religious muscles flexed, verses cited, and Theology toted. As I reflect this morning on all of these things my heart cannot help but scream, “AREN’T WE MISSING THE POINT?!” We want to have this grand discussion on women leading and men leading and tradition and blah blah blah all based in this GIANT misconception that Christian leadership is about power over others.
I mean, I get it, that’s the human way. Us humans, we like power, and in this world leadership is often defined by the power it holds. But have we so quickly forgotten that things with God tend to be a little backwards? Crack open your Bible and you will find that the leaders within its pages were thugs, prostitutes, murders, drunks, and, yes, even women. Most all of whom were plucked from the lowest of the low to serve God’s people. God doesn’t seem to care too much about humanities designations of people or cultural constructs. With Him, it seems, we are truly all equal. Even if you neglect the significance of these leaders you still have to face the greatest leader of them all… Jesus.
Jesus, you remember Him, that one guy that supposedly is the center of our faith. Yeah, well that guy seemed to think that great leadership looked like bending down half naked in front of His followers and washing manure covered toes. That guy demonstrated that kingship meant a criminal’s death. And so, I cannot help but believe that the highest of callings within the church is actually the lowliest. I cannot help but believe that those of us who are given the strength to lead are to use that strength to lift others up above us.
Look, I am and ever will be a proponent of gender equality both inside and outside of the church. I will forever be a warrior woman. I believe in empowering and strengthening other women. I still sometimes (all the time) get SUPER frustrated with those men who for some reason see the need to puff their chests and prove their supremacy. And, let’s be honest, I often find myself calling those men out on their BS (as those of you who know me can attest). However, I am continuing to learn that my greatest strength as a leader is to uplift and empower those around me. It is of far greater value to raise others up than it is to become embittered by those who seek to tear down.
I write all of this to urge each one of you, may we never get so distracted by the principles that we neglect our purpose. May our attention never be so stolen away by the rules that we neglect relationship. May Law never win and may Grace always prevail and may Jesus, not the world, be our only standard.