How I Changed My Mind

I'm only 50 or so pages through How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership but I'm already so inspired. My own story starts when I was a little girl...

(Disclaimer: I'm not pointing fingers at anyone or any church. I simply feel compelled to write my story down and be honest about what influenced, hurt, and encouraged me.)

The eldest child in a committed, church-going Christian family, I sought from a young age to follow God and know Jesus personally. Evangelical Christianity is good about emphasizing the Great Commission and the calling of each individual to go out and change the world. God didn't seem to discriminate in that area.

As I got older, I started to realize the nuances of gender roles. We left a church when I was around 9 and I thought it was because they got a female minister. Turns out there were a host of reasons, but that one stuck in my little mind.

In California, I remember our church had female deacons. That was weird to me. And maybe wrong? But the pastor had a justification for their leadership... provided they weren't full pastors.

In college, I had a feminist crisis and questioned why women couldn't be ministers. How come it was ok for Beth Moore to "speak" but not preach? Some conservative friends prayed for me (one even had her mom praying) to see the light of women's correct roles. I talked myself back into believing that women were meant to be women's ministers, not ministers to all.

Then I became the first female president of the Baptist student group at my university. I spoke at our Thursday night service, although I was encouraged to speak at the lunch meeting where people "shared." I didn't think so at the time, but that Journey was when I preached my first sermon.

Sometimes people said women were equal in worth but different in roles. Some intimated they weren't even equal in worth.

A few years later a woman preached at my church. I was a little scandalized. But it was alright, I reasoned, b/c the male pastor introduced her and re-iterated her points when she finished. It was like she was under his covering.

I wrote an article about women in the emerging church, and started it by saying I didn't agree with women head pastors. I took that part out before it went to print.

I led a small group. People often said Eric and I were both the leaders, although he never signed up for that. I learned in the process of leading that group that I have pastoral gifts. But I was in a church with no female pastors. I was conflicted.

Eric and I wanted an egalitarian relationship but didn't really know what that looked like. Sadly, we didn't see that modeled by the leadership at our church. Slowly we began to realize that if we were to have a marriage based on mutual submission rather than the wife submits/husband leads paradigm, we didn't fit in a church that did not allow women to be ministers.

The final tipping point came when we looked for a new church home, and only felt comfortable in congregations where both women and men were ministers.

I am still healing from much of this. Being in places where it's natural for women to be full pastors and for everyone to contribute based on their gifts has been a big part of it. My own marriage partnership has been a big part of it. Apologies from men on behalf of the fallen world have helped (thanks to Rob Bell, Rev. Georgetown, and Paul, for instance). And reclaiming that my worth is defined by God and not humans makes all the difference.

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EKH said...

I am so glad to have been on this journey with you.

Mitzi and Jerry said...

Just last night Jerry and I had a conversation on women preachers/pastors and preaching women.

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