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Friday, March 21, 2008

Final Thoughts--Women in Ministry Post #4


If women in leadership is unbiblical, we must muzzle the desire of many women who believe they have the God-given desire and ability to lead the church into the future. Furthermore, we have a duty to explain to women who believe they have this gifting where their desire is coming from if it is not from God. Ouch.

Why is it that we spend so much time debating whether women should lead or be in positions of authority and we spend so little time becoming the kind of person God desires us to be?

I know of some men that have nearly dedicated their lives to keeping women out of ministry positions yet, when you look at the qualifications of a pastor, leader, elder in scripture, 50% of those men don’t match up.

Instead of spending so much time on the qualifications of a leader and who is in and who is out, why don’t we camp on the concept that our Bibles are chock full of—SERVANTHOOD. Are we more concerned with rights and entitlement or learning how to stoop? Jesus grabbed a wash basin and a towel and washed his disciple’s feet. When we are immersed in servanthood, all entitlement goes out the window.

What is your role? How has God shaped you? What gifts has He given you? How are you using them? Are we seeking for ways to meet other’s needs? Are we creating ways to love them? OR—are we fighting for position and rank.

When it comes to these kinds of issues—like women in leadership—or other issues in the church where there is disagreement, do we spend more time asking how we are different from one another or do we concern ourselves with what we have in common?

Now, with all that said, I want to make sure I am making something clear. I don’t believe that life is about balance. I think life is more of a Gyroscope. Issues will and maybe even should rise to the surface and take our attention from time to time. Priorities will do that as well. If you look for balance, you will be sorely disappointed and I don’t think God calls us to that.

Furthermore, when it comes to issues of disagreement in the church on these issues or anything else for that matter, I don’t believe that we should NEVER spend time on them. I don’t believe the disagreements are completely unnecessary. When handled properly, disagreements give us an opportunity to exercise love, and grow in grace. Conflict sometimes provide opportunity for friendships to forge.

When it comes to issues like women in leadership or anything else in scripture where something is confusing or even seems contradictory to something else in scripture, shouldn’t we err on the side of grace? I mean, if my Bible talks about the value of women, the wonderful role they play, their worth, what they bring to the table, how we are incomplete without them, etc. add infinitum, but there are a couple or three verses where there is a possibility for another interpretation that is more in line with the rest of scripture—shouldn’t I err on that side? On the side of the context of the whole thing?

Are we willing to put aside our prejudices, lay down our pride, lay down our weapons and start fighting on the right battlefields? I have had lunches with guys that are writing books and love arguing about things like—“do we use a literal grammatical interpretation hermeneutic or a literal grammatical historical hermeneutic. I am not even going to explain what that means. I just have a hard time thinking that we will be standing before God and the first thing God will do is settle THAT issue for them.

Two people apply for a leadership position. Doesn’t matter what sex they are. One is a servant. The other is not. Which one do we think God would cast his vote for?

3 comments:

Jan said...

I am so touched by your post. Thank you for having the courage to address this issue and for having a loving and gracious heart towards women. I have often said it will take godly men leading the way for this mindset in the church to truly change. As a woman in ministry leadership I could tell you stories (ask me, I'll share!) that would curl your hair. Seriously. In the name of God people have felt honor bound to share their VERY unloving opinion with me about my role in church. Total strangers, people I have just met, friends who I had hoped would care about me - all expressing their "spritual opinion" in very ungodly and unkind ways. VERY RARELY have I ever had anyone just talk to me about it if they disagree. I will be honest, it has hurt me deeply through the years. And I have never had someone apologize for being unkind, unchristlike and hateful. Not once. And I am not alone. The concern for - as you say - defending the position of a man, or the authority of one gender over another, seems the priority to most. I am often shocked at the crudity and anger that accompanies these arguments. Sadly, this is not what I see that Jesus modeled or taught. "Submit therefore one to another" is a verse we could all camp out on for a while! This humility of heart and care for one another will speak volumes to the world around us.

Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM (and male btw), writes that we pray for the God of the Harvest to send workers to the field then we say half of them may not go. The Kingdom of God is actually hindered by our limiting of women. We are more concerned with the gender of the messenger than with seeing people come to know Jesus. THAT is an atrocity.

Finally, I have come to think that we are missing the mark in another area of this debate. Shouldn't the church be the one place where male/female relationships ARE godly - marked by respect, mutual submission and love, untainted by authoritarianism, manipulation and abuse or even sexual overtones? Shouldn't we be the EXAMPLE? I am so blessed to serve in such a church but it has not always been so. I am thankful for the godly, loving men who believe in God's calling on my life and journey with me every day, seeing how God has fashioned me for His purposes.(first and foremost my husband)

If you are interested in reading about an experience I had this fall that may help you understand a woman's viewpoint, check out this blog entry I wrote entitled "A Painful Joy".

http://aworshipfulheart.typepad.com/a_worshipful_heart/2007/10/index.html

Also check out Gilbert Bilizekian's book, "Beyond Sex Roles" for an indepth look at this!

Thanks for letting me share!

Rachel said...

Amazing posts. Great thoughts. Me and some friends were discussing this the other night. I will definitely pass this on. Thanks for sharing!!!

Rachel said...

John,

This was my first visit to your blog and I really enjoyed your posts! We need more men like you in the church, IMO. I hope your tender heart and passion for Christ continue to be a powerful voice in ministry.