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Jesus Creed


Gifted to Lead 2

posted by xscot mcknight

This series is by Alice. In Nancy Beach’s chapter entitled, “Welcome to the Boys??? Club” (from Gifted to Lead) women leaders are encouraged to develop character first: humility, self-confidence, humor, integrity. She then explains “the freight of being iconic” – the reality that many who find themselves in the minority experience the weight of representing their entire race or gender well. As I was reading this section, I was listening to the media talk about Barak Obama ??? about to make the climactic speech of the Democratic Convention as the first African-American presidential candidate ??? and on the 45th anniversary of MLK???s “I have a dream speech!” Talk about the freight of being iconic!!! Giving a “good enough” speech would have been a disaster. His only option was to knock one out of the park. One of the most important questions being asked about women in ministry … at the bottom of this post.
Beach wonders if women with non-traditional gifting in the evangelical church carry this freight around every day. As I read this, I thought, “No wonder I can barely drag myself home after preaching 3 times on a Sunday morning … I not only carry the weight of teaching God???s Word, but I carry it in an iconic way; I???m a ???woman teacher.???” I know that good, very often, is not good enough.
At the same time we feel the pressure to perform well, many women feel that being self-confident and strong is not an option because it is seen as too threatening. Humorously, Beach quotes Amy Poehler from SNL who says, “Women are often made to feel kind of audacious if they decide to be directors or producers or head writers [replace with preacher, or teacher, or head pastor!]. There???s this weird thing sometimes where we feel we???re taking up too much room!”
What do you think? The freight of being iconic … linked with the fear of coming across too strong, or too smart … Does it create an almost impossible double-bind? Any of you experience this?
Next: A few pieces of advice on working with men, a few unspoken truths about leading in “man world,” a humorous section called, “Stuff Male Leaders Never Deal With,” and a very serious challenge to male readers …



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Anonymous

posted September 10, 2008 at 6:06 am


Worship Connect » Blog Archive » Gifted to Lead 2

[…] Check out part 2 of a book discussion over at Jesus Creed: The book is? Gifted to Lead, by Nancy Beach.? Here’s a bit from the discussion/review today: At the same time we feel the pressure to perform well, many women feel that being self-confident and strong is not an option because it is seen as too threatening. Humorously, Beach quotes Amy Poehler from SNL who says, ???Women are often made to feel kind of audacious if they decide to be directors or producers or head writers [replace with preacher, or teacher, or head pastor!]. There???s this weird thing sometimes where we feel we???re taking up too much room!??? Posted in Books, Leadership, Vocation and Call, Women | Leave a Comment […]



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RJS

posted September 10, 2008 at 6:35 am


Well the added bold section leads me to comment —
I would be interested in hearing from some of the women involved in Christian leadership positions (lay or professional), especially some of the younger (say under 40) women.
I know that this is a bind for my generation and those of earlier generations within the church. I read a book in our church library several years ago where a woman, giving advice to other women in ministry, said in essence – what ever you do, be sure that you are not a better preacher or teacher than your husband or head pastor. She went on to reflect that, while this is unfortunate, human nature dictated such an approach. So the bind is – be good enough to win over the doubter, but not so good as to threaten the others.
An advantage that the academic environment has over many other situations is that the fear of coming across as too strong or too smart goes away (in my experience anyway). One can win without ultimately losing on a technicality.



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RJS

posted September 10, 2008 at 6:44 am


The word “win” in my last sentence comes across as a bit more competitive than I wanted. Perhaps a better way to say what I mean is this:
In the academic situation a woman can do her best – and have fun with it, and if it is better than the next guy – this is ok (or perhaps more than ok) and she doesn’t lose on a technicality as a result.



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Diane

posted September 10, 2008 at 6:45 am


I’ve felt the double bind since high school … in my experience, “too smart” is threatening if you’re a woman. My high school chemistry teacher ran an unprecedented second competition to try to knock me off the It’s Academic Team because “girls freeze on television.” I held my ground and didn’t know enough to even be upset at my treatment. It simply seemed normal. I don’t know how this plays out for men. My husband, who is also smart, gets a more fawning reception for his intelligence, but he couples it with interests in “manly” things like football and baseball and, of course, all things geekdom. But I do wonder how much time and energy I’ve wasted trying to downplay my gifts. However, I accept it as the price of the generation I was born into and am glad of the opportunities I have had. I do get extremely distressed, however, when I see sexism filtering into the younger generation, especially when it’s dressed up as Biblical. At heart, I believe, this kind of treatment hampers the building of the kingdom, because woman’s gifts are spurned.



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paul

posted September 10, 2008 at 6:49 am


I know as a man, I may not have the perspective to comment on this, but a few thoughts came to my mind.
– My grandma always said that she had no problem with woman preachers (which is good, cause her daughter was one), but she didn’t like them as much as men. For her, there was something about the deeper voice of a man that connected her with the word of God… (she recognized the bias, but could not get around it).
– My wife (who used to dream of being a pastor) notices that if a woman preaches a message that is just “ok”, it may be blamed on her being a woman and how woman are not meant to preach…but if a man preaches an “ok” message, it is never attributed to his gender
Anyway, just the thoughts that came up



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Faith J Totushek

posted September 10, 2008 at 7:20 am


I feel the pressure to be better and prove myself often. Sometimes i feel defensive especially when male stereotypes are asserted in an area where i have strength. (with the assumption being, i do not inherently have that ability because i am female).
I also feel that to be seen, i must be better, more skilled, more charismatic. Because unfortunately we see through the lenses we have and expect things from people because of how we see them.
In God’s these things are not real… he sees, he works, he advocates.



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Faith J Totushek

posted September 10, 2008 at 7:29 am


Re: “many women feel that being self-confident and strong is not an option because it is seen as too threatening.”
I have had experiences around this… to be assertive is redefined as controlling. Asking is redefined as telling. To self advocate can be taken as usurping. To have emotion can be taken as being hostile. I find myself having to choose words with extreme precision and to frame comments carefully. Sometimes even saying my opinion taps someone’s anxiety and my words are charged with sentiments and meanings that I do not have.
On one occasion, I remember that my words were very carefully chosen, i spoke with a kind and respectful tone and was asked why i was hostile. I felt very confused. But I think the person I was speaking with was hostile toward me and pinned it on me. (I know, I spoke carefully)
Believe me, I feel the anxiety and struggle to be real because being real can be assigned motives and intentions that i do not have.



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Terri

posted September 10, 2008 at 7:36 am


I’m getting my Phd in NT and feel this way all the time. Every paper and assignment has to be perfect because I want to “prove” that a woman can do what we do just as well as, if not better than, a man. I also feel some pressure in class discussions when I disagree or have serious questions about some topic–that if I express those I will be seen as an example of a woman “going astray” and thus in some way “ruin it” for women coming after me. Does that make sense?
I am gradually trying to train myself away from this way of thinking….



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Faith J Totushek

posted September 10, 2008 at 8:05 am


re: how i deal with it.
I am in process. But currently I am at the point in which i need to sort through what i am responsible for and what i am not. I am not responsible for the anxiety that a man or male leader might have. I am responsible for my own. I am responible to say the truth in love. I am responsible to deal with my own fears and worries. I am not responsible for the motives assigned that are not true. I am responsible to do my best and trust that God is my advocate and center.
In the past I have taken reponsiblity for the anxiety of male leaders. I have tried to conform and change to caretake them when they need to grow. I am learning to separate my self and my stuff from their stuff and know that I am not responsible for their ansiety about me. If they have questions, concerns, etc, they need to ask instead of assign. I will say the truth as i understand it. Sometimes the sorting process needs to be done in safe places with safe people who know you well and will speak the truth. Sometimes much prayer is needed and listening to God.
That’s the best I can do. Honest.
I must choose to be real in a world, even christian world, that trys to force a mask on me, impose it’s reality and conform me to its image of perceived reality. I am made in God’s image and ultimately responsible to God to be the me that I am and the me that he designed. that is honest. that’s my self talk. that’s one of my discernment goals.
If I be me, i may indeed upset the equalibriam but then if we are humble and can work together to sort it out, then we all can grow. if not… well… i am responsible for my part not others.
I have also stopped idealizing pastors and male leaders. I can’t get their approval or their sanction. I have learned they are not necessarily healthy individuals just because they are pastors or leaders or men. They also have issues to deal with and i will not caretake to keep them comfortable.



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Faith J Totushek

posted September 10, 2008 at 8:08 am


Terri, i hear you, i felt that wey in seminary lots… keep going, keep plowing. it’s hard. validate youself.



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Anette Ejsing

posted September 10, 2008 at 8:51 am


#2 RJS: I have to disagree that the academic world takes away the “too strong” factor, especially when we are talking about the relationship between younger female faculty and older male faculty.
In that relationship I have often seen male fear win over male willingness to engage in equal strength. I sometimes find myself looking into the eyes of an older male colleague who does everything in his power to engage his younger female counterparts. But then after a while something snaps and he finds a way of elegantly bowing out of the situation.
I am not saying he bows out deliberately. In fact, this is rarely the case, in my observation. Rather, fear kicks in and then it just happens. And so I sit there, with a mix of feeling too strong, too threatening, a little guilty, but thinking to myself, “Here we go again… Oh well… I better get back to work…”
It seems to me that this does not happen as often with younger male colleagues. Especially – I have to admit – when I engage men of minority, e.g. African, African American, or gay. I am not sure what kind of bond we have going there, but there is some mysteriously common ground.
Anette



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Angie Van De Merwe

posted September 10, 2008 at 8:53 am


Whenever I think I understand something, I am passionate. But, unfortunately, others think that I am ‘closed minded”, because of my passion, so they don’t continue to insert their opinions and dialogue, so that my ‘mix” is “fuller”. My passion is not a statement of “I know it all”, in fact, I know I don’t know it all and that scares me from asserting myself in some cases. In other cases, where I don’t really care whether the costs is a breaking of relationship, because the realtionship is already broken, OR, there never was a relationship in the first place, I can be abrasive and (I admit) caustic. Relationships can be formed in the sharting of ideas (which is where my passion is)…and some people are not motivated by ideas, but by practical relationship…so my idea-orientation is intimidating to them, because that is not their passion….



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Daniel

posted September 10, 2008 at 9:04 am


Wow. It’s apparent that culture has trumped scripture and 2000 years of orthodox teaching.
You know…if we can blur the gender specific roles God gave regarding His church…why not blur the gender specific roles God gave concerning marriage? I mean really…isn’t it condescending to think that the man should always be the head of the home? It’s probably just an inference that we make, but really God was just addressing a different culture and didn’t have ours in mind in His “God Story.”



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Daniel

posted September 10, 2008 at 9:10 am


And to answer the question…some of the most Godly women teachers I know never feel this freight…because they submit themselves to the standards set by God’s Word regarding what they teach and who they teach to. These are also some of the most respected teachers I know. (My mother, sister-in-law, and wife being 3 such teachers).
It’s not a question of women submitting to men….it’s a question of rather men and women are willing to submit themselves to God and His standards. (or try to find “inferences” to rationalize their way around it)
But like one commenter stated, we are accountable to God…and that makes me tremble! I want to do it right!



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sheryl

posted September 10, 2008 at 9:10 am


In seminary, a professor shared a sad truth, “Women have to be twice as good than men to be accepted.” He didn’t agree with it, but noted that others accepted a woman when she clearly outshone men and displayed superior gifts and abilities. I don’t like that sentiment, but recognize its reality. It is a double-standard.
Paul #5 – This reflects one’s perception on what is acceptable. I have found myself at times doing the same thing, and like the others “renew my mind” to accept people based on their gifts and talents rather than gender. It’s a process.
In response to Alice’s question for today –
For me, while I recognize the double standards in culture-secular and Christian-each to their own degrees, my personality is very strong, competitive, and driven. If I do something, the degree of excellence in which I perform depends on me and not external issues. When people deem me as “too smart” or “too strong,” I see it as their issue, not mine. I am not trying to be flip about it. This may be the ONE positive of not growing up in a Christian home and gender NEVER being an issue.
Obviously, I evaluate myself for the negative aspects of those qualities, but if someone doesn’t accept me because I’m too smart, then they have a problem not me. Ironically, I have found women the most difficult to deal with in the Church. They don’t like strong women. My husband and other strong, self-confident men are quick to offer praise even when my talents and gifts are better than their own. While I attribute a lot of gender issues to one’s teaching and cultural stereotypes, a self-assured individual is not intimidated by another who is better gifted.



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RJS

posted September 10, 2008 at 9:19 am


Anette
Interesting. I am sure you are right in certain circumstances. I wonder if it is as frequent though? I am in a heavily male dominated field, but science not theology, and have been in secular universities for the last 27 years, which may also skew my perspective.



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sheryl

posted September 10, 2008 at 9:27 am


Thinking of being iconic . . .
We just finished a book on Gladys Alyward in homeschool. She offers a great example of someone who didn’t settle for mediocrity, but used her abilities and talents and relied on God. She was bold, strong, smart, courageous, and wise. She was compelled to use her life fully for God. She helped so many people and shared the Gospel with multitudes. As a result of her story, she had books written about her, a Hollywood biopic starring Ingrid Bergman, and dined at the Queen’s table. Alice mentions another example of MLK, who lived his life to the fullest for God. Those are the people that inspire me–women and men– to be great for God according to my gifts and calling, and not live in mediocrity because of what others say. I don’t think we should hold back and be afraid of being great because of others’ false teaching on gender roles and opinions. Nonetheless, those prisons are there and we have to deal with it.



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Faith J Totushek

posted September 10, 2008 at 9:48 am


Daniel… i agree that both men and women must submit to God and his call, gifts as the Spirit determines. (I feel passionate about this so forgive me ahead of time but I need to say this). I do not agree that your view of what the bible teaches about women is necessarily God’s view and may indeed be mixed with human, western views of how a woman should behave and what she should be like. if i am not that way it feels as if i am being forced into a mold or way of being that I am not. If I understand your view correctly, your view puts women in a double bind. If I understand your view correctly, you teach they must submit to men, be under their authority, then you define how they should be and what roles they may have. then go on to say that that is God’s way. i feel the force or your imposition and if I do not conform to your view, then I am not in conformity with God’s view. Then i have no voice, no opinion, no sense of who I am apart from being defined by someone else and the weight of God is landed. that’s oppression.
I wonder if those who believe this way have made their interpretation God’s interpretation. And it’s not the authority of the word we disagree about but the authority of someone’s interpretation of what the word says. There is indeed truth but we must discern it carefully sifting OT and NT culture from what God is saying to humans. That is an art done in relation with God not an empirical science.
Daniel, I also believe that it has nothing to do with homosexuals. Not complying with a specific interpretation of role does not create homosexuals. I believe that idea is informed by fear of homosexuals.
Following God as he calls me is submitting to him. I am deeply loved, called and gifted by the Spirit as the Spirit determines not as humans determine. I will be ethical and respectful in family and work life and follow the Spirit as best i can.



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Angie Van De Merwe

posted September 10, 2008 at 9:54 am


My “problem” is hearing things put in parochial terms! God doesn’t rule from the sky!! There are no ‘three levels of heaven” and God is not “the Blessed controller of all things”, i.e. “you don’t have to question, or think for yourselves, JUST SUBMIT TO MY WILL, AS GOD’S WILL AND EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY…and so, I tend to really hyperventilate when things are looked at through “the Bible alone”!!! The Biblical Christian DOES NOT EXIST!!! And fundamentalism has wrought more atheists probably than any other “tradition” of understanding Christian faith. It is a ‘form” that “conforms” uniqueness into mediocrity!!!



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RJS

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:11 am


Anette (#11)
Actually let me expand on my response in #16. I know that it happens in certain circumstances – and the bow out defense is a good description, although I don’t find it common in my professional setting.



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Jennifer

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:18 am


I dont know if I am in a unique situation, but so far I have not run into much of this in my seminary experience. I’ve dealt with it in plenty of other places, but in the academic setting I feel like my voice is sought out and valued by my male classmates.
I just dont know if that’s becuase I am in a seminary that orders their values a little differently, or if it is a sign of things to come.



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Faith J Totushek

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:19 am


re: blurring of gender roles. There is a difference between blurring genders and blurring gender roles. As women we take on roles for various purposes. when a mother, I serve my children in light of service to God. In Marriage, I serve my spouse in light of service to God as my spouse also does. when in a work life, i serve my employer in light of service to God. roles are flexible and i remain a woman that is fixed. the confusion is when only particular roles are equated with womanhood and being a woman. I am not a role. I am a person.
I have self-defined my beliefs enough for one day. catch you all tomorrow.



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pam w

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:22 am


I can’t tell you how great it is to see these conversations finally taking place. The honesty here is refreshing, AND the willingness to take responsibility for shifting the social dynamic. The first step is transforming the collective Body (if we as individuals are called to always be in growth and transformation, so is the collective Body), is recognizing the norms and mental models that are creating the existing social field.
I am always so sad to watc all of these things happening, and think “God wants us to be so much more as a community”. I see often that when we raise these issues in orgs, and women step More fully into who they are, the men are able to do the same and an amazing partnership between the masculine and feminne begins! I’ve seen the beauty of it, and it is truly divine.



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Rebeccat

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:22 am


I am of a slightly younger generation than Pastor Beach (I’m 35). And I have not pastored a church at this point in my life. I have used gifts of wisdom, leadership and teaching in leading a prison ministry program and what was essentially a “home church” for the church I attended. So, my experiences could be different than what Pastor Beach and others are talking about. However, I have to say that I have found it much, much, much easier to be smart, passionate, good and “in charge” in ministry settings than in the world at large. In the world at large, people find me really intimidating. It’s really hard for me to make friends because people are very uncomfortable with me – they perceive me as smart, principled, passionate, etc and assume that I think I am better than they are. Which I don’t. I just assume that God has created each of us differently and we’re each trying to live the best way we can figure out how.
However, in church/ministry settings, when I am able to serve in a position of leadership, people expect me to be smart, principled, passionate, etc. I think that the concept of gifting really helps as well. If I share some insight God has given me, this is seen as evidence of wisdom, not as an attempt to “show off”. Unlike in the average social setting, I can take those things about me which make me stand out and point to God as source and animator of those things, which helps to stave off some of the more negative reactions.
Of course it also helps that my experiences have largely (although certainly not entirely) been with younger people. I think that people like Pastor Beach and others have done a good job in the last couple of decades of showing clearly and forcibly the biblical basis for women in leadership and arguing against the misuse of scriptures to claim that women do not belong in leadership. Young people who have grown up in an egalitarian world are particularly receptive to this.
Right now, I’m a bit sidelined with raising kids, but it is my full intention and hope to go into ministry/pastoring once my kids are a bit older. Perhaps going into ministry more professionally will present more problems for me as a woman. However, at this point, ministry has been the one place where I can be myself.



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Daniel

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:24 am


Faith (#18)- You state: “i feel the force or your imposition and if I do not conform to your view, then I am not in conformity with God???s view.”
And I heartily sympathize with that statement. You don’t have to conform to my view, though I might add that there seems to be a push to get me to conform with someone else’s view. In fact I’m heartily against conforming to any PERSON’S view at all. The Bible must be our standard. What I’m becoming more discouraged about is the view that God’s Word is less of a standard and more of a (to borrow a line from Pirates of the Caribbean) “guideline” that can be tweaked. For me that’s more of the issue than whether or not women can teach a Sunday School class with men in it.
“Daniel, I also believe that it has nothing to do with homosexuals. ”
The issues are separate but related, because if we’re willing to culturally re-interpret scripture in one area, there is little standing in the way of re-interpreting it in others.
“if i am not that way it feels as if i am being forced into a mold or way of being that I am not.”
Romans 12 comes to mind here. In a secular culture where the “mold” is varying degree of feminism…to what degree does the christian woman avoid conforming to that mold and to what is she transforming to? The same applies to men. Heaven forbid men allow themselves to be molded into some sexist, chauvinistic male on one end of the spectrum, or some feminized wimp on the other. God gives strong guidelines for them to submit to as well.
Faith, your last paragraph truly impressed me. I trust that as you continue to submit yourself to the Spirit and God’s Word that you will continue to be transformed into the image of Christ (not into any person’s view of what you should be.)
To Angie (#19) – Why do we say “sola scriptura”? (Scripture’s alone) Because without the Scriptures we don’t know who God is, who we are (sinners), our need of a savior, who that Savior is, the condition of the world, the end of the world, the way to salvation, how to live in a fallen world…etc, etc, etc. And, through scripture we can have a clearer understanding of culture.
Scripture is a never changing foundation – culture is a continually shifting one.



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Daniel

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:29 am


Faith (#22) – Excellent! I love the line “I am not a role. I’m a person.” And…by definition, created in the image of God! What a privilege!



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Jennifer

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:43 am


Daniel,
You should check out Webb’s “Slaves, Women and Homosexuals”
There are good reasons why accepting women in leadership is not going to be a slippery slope right into affirming homosexuality.



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Rebeccat

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:50 am


Daniel, I don’t personally want to get into an argument with you, but just something to think of. How do you reconcile your interpretation of scriptures regarding women in leadership with the fact that women are listed in scriptures as holding every office of leadership? And that Paul repeatedly praises specific women holding roles which, from your interpretation, Paul also forbids them to hold? Given this obvious/apparent contradiction, why choose to reconcile it by ignoring the evidence of actual women in leadership with the praise of the scripture writers? Why not use such evidence as a challenge to dig deeper and see if perhaps the clear meaning of passages of scriptures which contradict realities which Paul himself praises, don’t intend to communicate what you assume they do?
In my experience of studying scriptures, those places where scriptures appears to contradict itself or just doesn’t make sense, are like little red markers pointing to places where we need to dig deeper. IMO, it’s almost always a mistake to see such a contradiction and simply choose which side makes more sense or seems to have the stronger support on its face. I have found, pretty much every time that these apparent contradictions are the holding spots for much deeper truths, if we are willing to look. And this issue of women in ministry is an excellent marker to start with.



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Anette Ejsing

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:54 am


RJS: I agree that there are probably some difference depending on the discipline. Still, I’ve seen the “bowing out” effect across and between disciplines. Of course, all set-ups are different, and how intellectual interactions unfold depends on a lot of factors that we are not always able to detect. And sometimes there is no problem. And then we simply rejoice in doing our job.
The comments about being created in God’s image, not the image of others, and of submitting ourselves to Christ, not to others are immensely valuable. Still, we exercise that feeedom in community with others, and before we know it, there are gender and power issues to deal with in our community.
I recall a bible study three years ago where I asked the leader a question about some comment he made on a NT verse. To which he responded by going around the table and asking each male participant to suggest an answer. End of conversation. This does not happen all the time, but a woman never knows when it is going to happen. In and of itself, this uncertainty is stressful.
Anette



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pam w

posted September 10, 2008 at 11:17 am


Daniel – There have been many male theologians and pastors in this community who have made the case for the ‘egalitarian’ view in scripture. Please see the history of ‘women in leadership’ conversations on this blog. I can speak for myself and many of the women commenting (because I have heard them state this in other conversations diving into scripture), we are VERY committed to the authority of scripture.
The problem is, once we get beyond the debate of whether women can be in positions of leadership, we MUST have conversations about what it means to live out the scriptures in our patriarchal culture. The beautiful dance of the creation between the masculine and the feminine is a call from scripture for us. The church should be leading this instead of lagging so far behind. But this conversation doesn’t happen because we are constantly hijacked back to the question of if we can be in leadership in the first place.
I respect that you have come to different conclusions in your interpretation of scripture, but please stop saying we are not Biblical to be having this discussion. The important dialogue that Beach’s book generates is based on an assumption that women can be in leadership. It is not a theological discussion on egalitarian, complementarian, authoritarian views.
Last year Scot started a post essentially saying “we are making the assumption that women can be in leadership for this post. I know you all don’t agree with that, but we are not having that discussion here”. He then had to go back and forth with whether he had the right to do that or not! As a woman I was SO grateful that he was willing to create that space. We NEED this conversation, and it is what this book is about.
Also – please excuse the typos in my last post. I was on my phone…



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Alice

posted September 10, 2008 at 11:34 am


Pam (#30) – Thank you for doing this. I’ve been busy working on a sermon for this Sunday. I really did trust JC folks to keep the comments on topic!
Daniel, please don’t feel we are trying to stifle your viewpoint. I am simply encouraging us to stick with the point of today’s post.
Do women in leadership and teaching positions in churches feel the double-bind of having to be “better than good,” while also working hard to navigate various minefields around competence and being outspoken or passionate or smart?
Park of what Scot does is create a very safe place for folks who often don’t feel safe in the church to speak of their experiences.
I encourage you, now that you’ve voiced your theological opinion (which I respect, but do not share) to listen with compassion and and open heart to the voices of your sisters in Christ.
If you want to weigh in on the actual topic of today’s post … you are very welcome!



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Alice

posted September 10, 2008 at 11:35 am


Sorry about the double post. Didn’t mean it!



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Angie Van De Merwe

posted September 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm


Daniel (#29), We say “Sola Scriptura” AFTER the REFORMATION. The Scriptures have a context within Tradition (the Christian Tradition), as well as understanding the beginnings of the Tradition itself. Christian Tradition includes the Scriptures, other religious traditions also have their texts.
One of the main tenets of the Jewish understanding of God was his transcendence. The OT texts contains this “tradition” of Judiasm. That means that
God is beyond our ability to “understand him completely”. In the NT, Christians understand that “God’s” fullness resides within Jesus, the “God-Man”. Christian Tradition developed what Christians were to believe based on Jewish understandings. The NT re-interpreted (took them out of historical context) OT verses and “applied” them to Jesus. These historical “Councils” were the understanding of Church leaders in giving an apolegetic to Christian faith. But, all of these Christian leaders did not agree as to how one understands “faith”. Theology is the “science” of giving reason for the “faith”. There is no “ONE and ONLY” theology that reflects Christian belief, as there are diverse ways of approaching and understanding Scripture.
I hope that helps….



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Scot McKnight

posted September 10, 2008 at 12:12 pm


Daniel,
I’ll weigh on this too. The point of this post is not to dispute whether or not women should be leaders in the church, but — assuming that they can be — what it is like for them.
When I began posting about women in ministry, I did clearly say that we won’t turn each post into a “yes or no” question about whether not not women can be pastors. We assume that folks have dug into this enough to know that we don’t all agree. There are plenty who think women can be leaders, pastors, elders, etc.. A post like this assumes that conclusion.



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TriciaM

posted September 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm


I have lots to say but it’s all so raw that I’m better off listening for now. But I wanted to say thanks Scot and Alice for facilitating this conversation. I’m sure there are lots of others who are reading but not posting.



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fjs

posted September 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm


Daniel, also as you grow in Christ and submit the Spirit and God’s word, i pray that you will continue to grow into the image of Christ.



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Diane

posted September 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm


Sheryl,
I was not long ago speaking to a black woman of MLK’s generation, who knew him and many other successful blacks of his generation. She was very definite in saying that MLK was crippled–her word– by racism in a way that Obama is not. She was certain, for example, that MLK would never have thought it possible he could run for President. So while I completely agree with you that MLK transcended racism in the culture to do God’s work, he was also scarred by the stereotypes of his generation that limited black men. He had to fight stereotypes every day (such as the concept that he should just smile and stay in his place) in a way a white man wouldn’t. As you say, the prisons are there. So the answer to the question of whether women feel the weight of sexism for being smart or strong is almost obvious: I think almost all women who have “stepped out of line” do. A more important issue, to me, is how to get the dominant group to really understand how they are treating the subordinate group, because often the dominant group is simply blind to it. They don’t even realize what they are doing because they are behaving out of their understanding of “fact.” To my chemistry teacher, it wasn’t opinion that girls freeze on TV, it was fact. It didn’t have anything to do with sexism as far as he was concerned, it was simply reality as he saw it. Thus, very often, the dominant group sees the subordinate groups as whining or self-pitying or making excuses or trying to get extra privileges they haven’t earned, and we’re back to the issue of how do groups learn to see each other as fully human. It was the question Jesus was dealing with and that we’re still dealing with today.



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Sarah

posted September 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm


I am a Pastoral Intern at a small/medium church in Washington state. I am a woman under 40 (28 to be exact). I don’t dare to speak for my peers, but for me, I have never felt the pressure when I speak or preach that I am also doing it as a representation of all women everywhere. But I also know that I have been fortunante not to come up against much opposition to my having leadership qualities. These qualities have always been encouraged, and not because I am a woman, but because God has clearly gifted me with them as a child of God and member of God’s body. I’ve actually gone kicking and screaming all the way to where I am now. I was going to be an elementary school teacher, but then I realized ministry was the only place that made sense. So then I was going to go be a youth pastor, because I had no desire to be a full-out pastor of a church. God had other plans and gave me a full-ride scholarship (that I did not apply for) to seminary. I am now 2/3 of the way through my MDiv, riding the adventures of internship, and trying to not make any other plans, instead waiting for God to reveal the next step.
So there is this woman’s testimony. This I know for sure: God’s grace and love and Spirit is so much bigger and more unpredictable than we humans can possibly wrap our brains around.



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sheryl

posted September 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm


Diane #38 – I’m agree with you. MLK lived an iconic life during a period of history that violently tried to suppress his voice from being heard. I highlighted him because Alice did. My point being that both women and men can and should live iconic lives. There are many more names we could add to the list from that time, such as Rosa Parks. I’m not sure where we disagree.



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Maria

posted September 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm


Thanks Scott for the reminder of the perimeters of the discussion. . . . Daniels comment only affirms and solidify’s Beach’s implication that a woman’s opinion might come off too strong, or be threatening and so there is always a man nearby to correct and reprimand her.
I am the 100th pastor and the first woman pastor at a 200 year old congregation. I am also the first female clergy person in a small village. I have been obviously shunned by the ministerial society in town. I was publically overlooked at a public community worship. I was enthusiastically invited to speak at an interdenominational men’s event: resulting in one church pulling out the involvement of their entire congregation – in response the invitation was rescinded to keep harmony in the body! I have never fought or insisted on my rights or privilege – My RIGHT is not the cross I was called to bear. . . My highest calling and privilege is to be the bearer, proclaimer, and the vessel of the Good News – the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am blessed to be ordained in a denomination that has ordained and honored the voice and leadership of women. That doesnt make it an easy road at all. I do feel the pressure of being the “first and only”. I never do a wedding or funeral in town that someone doesnt come to say “that was awesome! I’ve never seen a woman do that before!”. .. It always makes me chuckle. . . and I am always honored to take one for the team!



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Daniel

posted September 10, 2008 at 1:06 pm


Scot, thanks for your reply…I’ll fold to your posts stated premise.
fjs (#37) – Thank you! In case my posting was taken as sarcastic or condescending I recognize that no one, definitely including myself, has finished the quest of progressive sanctification.
Angie – I’m getting the impression that according to your view Scripture by itself cannot be completely trusted. I don’t think that’s what you’re saying, but it’s the impression I’m getting. But, since this thread isn’t about that, I’ll leave it at that. (Just don’t show that last sentence to any of my old english prof’s) :-)



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sheryl

posted September 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm


Sarah #39 –
I have felt the same way when speaking. I never feel as if I’m speaking for women. I always feel as if I am speaking as a voice for God, and try my best to speak clearly and accurately as His representative. Thankfully, after my embrace of Jesus in undergrad I always saw women in leadership and always heard them preaching and teaching. And when they did, I never heard any gender remarks; they spoke as a voice for God, not a female voice. As someone said earlier, that is not to erase gender. They spoke with their uniqueness and individuality in the image of Christ. They were giving voice to their person in Christ.
However, after getting married I started to listen to Christian radio, which is dominated by traditional/complementarian voices for gender roles, and browsing Christian bookstores, I was shocked at what I heard and read. They told me that what I had seen and heard was wrong, unscriptural, and “sinful.” In seminary, the two views on gender roles were present. I was never afraid to speak up and challenge the ideology of those who espoused gender roles and engage in dialogue. But the suppression was there with certain professors.
I share all that to say that while thankfully you have not experienced this oppression, unfortunately it exists. I hope you never encounter it.



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Diane

posted September 10, 2008 at 3:02 pm


Sheryl,
I don’t think we disagree. I simply wanted to highlight that being iconic, or as Scot would say, an eikon, doesn’t solve the problem. But it does help! And I don’t wake up every morning saying ‘woe to me, born a woman.’ I like being a woman and wouldn’t trade it away. But I have noted the way in which boxes are drawn around us (and I guess all people one way or another) to attempt to limit us. In the end, I think going about our business is the best solution. For instance, I knew the chemistry teacher who told me all girls freeze on television was wrong, so I ignored him, went on television and was fine. But I do believe that in many parts of the church, leadership is especially difficult for women because of institutionalized prejudice based on a misreading of the Bible.



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Peggy

posted September 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm


“What do you think? The freight of being iconic ??? linked with the fear of coming across too strong, or too smart ??? Does it create an almost impossible double-bind? Any of you experience this?”
Well, being in the over 50 crowd, I’m tied in with some of the “older” thinking, I guess! But my answer to this question is: most of my life, I’ve experienced this.
It’s very complicated on many levels, I think. This lends itself to lots of assumptions an all sides, as the previous comments show.
I am weary of people–all people–not being valued for the gift they are to this world from God. Sometimes I feel I have moved into a different dimension…where this discussion is becoming irrelevant. I am certainly reminded that it is alive and well, however, on a regular basis. 8)
This would be a wonderful post, however, for all those sisters who are lurking out on the porch of the ole “One T” to just put there hand up and say: Yup, that’s me…not gonna talk about it.
…I bet that would take the record for number of comments on a post to new heights (and really clog Scot’s filters ;) )



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sheryl

posted September 10, 2008 at 6:26 pm


I like your idea Peggy! I think a post like that may set a comments’ record. There are a lot of people reading this conversation who are probably just as weary of the conflict and tension (*raises hand*) on this issue and don’t have the energy to fight it anymore.



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Faith J Totushek

posted September 10, 2008 at 9:49 pm


I think the church world of women leadership might be very different from the secular world for women in leadership. my experience on the school board was validating and growth producing. that is when i first noticed the difference and had to deal with the dissonance. I was treated as an equal and expected to speak my own thoughts and even asked what I thought and believed. I didn’t feel the same anxiety to prove myself because there were other successful women leaders present and active.
i often wonder how business leader women feel in churches.



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Peggy

posted September 10, 2008 at 10:49 pm


sheryl…I see your hand, sister! Anyone else? 8)
Faith…I have experienced both sides of this challenge. Frequently business leader women are shocked at the way things are done in churches. Truly it is a shame when the marketplace “gets it” and the church continues on in the Dark Ages….
But there are still significant issues out there in the business world concerning women’s gifts and how they are a threat to men.
When I worked in aerospace (12 years), frequently is was not only the men that were threatened, but other women. In that environment, many of the women were up-and-coming engineers in a very big old boys network. They were joined by the women in communications and administrative fields…and often times in those days (80s), the perception was that women had to “act like men” to get into the “network” and get any traction.
That began to weaken some in the 90s, as some dynamic women were breaking into CEO positions and showing how it is when women lead from their strengths as women.
There has been much good change in the past 30 years, as I have experienced it. But there is still room for growth, as well as for shifting some of the paradigms that continue to stunt growth and maturity and achieving one’s potential. That this is necessary in every area of human experience…IMO.



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Faith J Totushek

posted September 11, 2008 at 7:49 am


my board experience was in the late 90’s so i missed the 80’s first ground breakings. i was priveledged to work with some outstanding school leaders who did much to nurture the whole board’s leadership capacity for the sake of the school. They saw equipping all leaders as vital for the mission of the school be they male or female. Often they were intentional about adding women to the leadership circles that lacked that diversity.
There were also many female leaders present making it seem normal. there was less pressure to be iconic.



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Richard

posted September 12, 2008 at 3:54 am


What I see in the gospel of Jesus Christ is a great work done by God Himself.
My daily vision is for every mountain to be brought down and every valley filled. God and mankind understanding each other. Don’t ask me to become part of your congrigation so that you, male or female, can have a leadership position or that you can be a pastor. Kind of selfish isn’t it.
When do we start and stop preaching? Do we start after talking with God? and stop when we need to talk to Him. If one has a relationship with the Being of all, is that not enough.
I have to stop and go to work and preach the Gospel now maybe without saying a word but that doesn’t bother me because I know that he or she that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit… male or female and I’ll be looking forward to seeing Him all day since He’s always been there.



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Adriene B

posted September 15, 2008 at 12:08 pm


I think I failed when I tried to bear the weight of being iconic. But I was also younger, less secure in my calling, and in a church that was struggling with a LOT of leadership issues, but the one that got the most attention was women in leadership. And I became the lightning rod for quite a bit of that conflict. It’s not possible to argue purely in the abstract about ‘women pastors’ when you are an individual woman who is trying to answer a calling to pastoral ministry.
After I left that church, started seminary, and was in an environment where being a woman and a leader/pastor was more accepted, the challenge for me was to not be too strong. I don’t think I have managed that very well either.
Even in a couple of churches which were positive about women as pastors and leaders, I still feared coming on too strong. I have tried to dim the brightness of my brain, sit tightly on my passion and vision, and rein myself in where I want to do or say something that might be ‘threatening.’ That hasn’t worked out all that well either; I was judged as being ‘not a good team player’ and ‘not willing to do whatever it takes.’ And when I’ve let my strength show, I have been tagged ‘aggressive’ and ‘too strong.’
However, its not all about gender. I’m also sort of a pioneer in both theology and praxis. Even if I was a man, I would be encountering resistance and criticism. Just being a visionary with a different vision than the sr. pastor is going to create tension. I’m trying to be careful not to cry ‘sexism!’ when there are a bunch of other factors in the mix.



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