Kaylie Hodges' words have launched a roller coaster of emotions in me this week. They prick such a tender place in my chest. Have you ever ached for somebody to notice the call on you life? To tell you they believe you can do it? To teach you to hear God and follow His lead? To pass along a simple "good job"? Have you ever wanted that so badly you could scream? Oh, I have, I have, I have!!
In a workshop this weekend, most women in ministry leadership reported to get their information from Google and conferences. Listen, I’m a big fan of both of those things, but they are in no way a substitute for the real life intimacy for discipleship and mentors in women’s leadership. (Paraphrased)
In the male-dominated world of Bible teaching and pastoral care, just 1 out of every 5 seminary students are women. In Masters of Divinity programs, it's estimated that 1 in 3 are female, due to a higher number of them pursuing degrees in Christian counseling.*
This isn't a surprise, as women Bible teachers aren't in particularly high demand.
With the majority of congregations relegating ordained women to children's pastor and women's ministry roles, only large churches with expansive resources are able to support one financially. Also, a number of denominations don't approve of women teaching mixed gender audiences from the pulpit.
My goal is not to debate the theology or "why's" behind the phenomenon. Most of us serve out of pure love and a desire to help. There's no pay except the simple joy of walking with fellow believers. I would, however, like to look at the ways those of us with a heart for women's ministry are being affected. At the core of our willingness to serve is the issue of "excellence". Here are some questions to personally consider:
- How many of us have a Pastor we could approach this very moment with a Bible question?
- How many of us are involved a small group, with access to a mature leader who helps us to apply Biblical principles to our lives?
- How many of us are nervous that we aren't interpreting scriptures in the manner in which they were intended?
Men and women are different!! (No kidding, right?). We assimilate information differently, women tend to connect verbally and relationally, and most importantly, we apply scripture to our lives through a feminine lens of experience. It's a simple "Mars and Venus" issue!
I hold deep gratitude for every Pastor who is willing to teach and raise up our female warriors in this full-bodied church! (You're a precious and dear few, brothers.) That being said, there are some parts of a woman's heart and mind that men just aren't able to reach. They simply don't speak "woman", and it's completely OK. But what does this mean for all of us who do?
- It means that we women, in all of our courageous and glorious femininity, have to become those mentors, leaders, teachers, and counselors!!
- It means that we can't afford to wait until we are "highly-trained" to begin loving on women within our realm of influence right now.
- It means that we are required to reach out to older, respected women who can lead us on the path of righteousness.
- It means that we cannot wait for church leadership to pick us out of obscurity and deem us "qualified" (or become bitter if they don't). We serve the minute God says, "Go!"
- It means that our faith can't be driven by our husbands' willingness to teach or pray with us. It's our responsibility.
- It means, that we can't (only) take other people's word on what the Bible says. It has to be hidden in our own hearts so that we can share it with others.
We don't always have the luxury of being surrounded by eager teachers or motivated mentors. Your calling is no less important or true because of that fact. God calls. He Equips. "Well done, good and faithful servant", He says.
Maybe now is your time. Maybe He's stirring dreams in you that weren't there before. So, Go! Don't wait! Reach out and join a community of women who are on fire and taking big steps of faith. Sit at Jesus' feet and learn until your brain hurts. Permission has been already been granted by the greatest Teacher of all time. (Luke 10:39)
Rooting for you so hard my arms might just hug you through this computer screen!
"But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?...The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to." (Romans 10:15-17, Paraphrased)
"Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine...Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children..." (Titus 2: 1-6, Paraphrased)
*Sharon Hodde Miller, http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2013/may/seminary-gender-gap.html