Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ready to go! Sort of.

From Real Simple
A few credentialed ministers talked last week about how few women lead churches. "It's not that we're not called," noted one. "Part of it is that we drop out to take care of kids. Part of it is that we keep going to school. We prepare and prepare and by then the guys have been working through the ranks and are senior pastors."

Do you agree with her observations?

I got to thinking about how we postpone ministry when I was getting close to graduation last year. I'm in my 50s. I was called to ministry and missions as a youngster. My husband's proposal was a pitch that we go into missions together. (I said yes, obviously.) He pastored. I stayed home with the kids. He took a teaching job. I taught music and my kids from home.

Life in Cambridge - really this wonderful!
In my early 40s, something flipped inside me. I plunged into a stimulating masters program, got all excited about planting a church ... and then W, Jonathan, and I moved to England while W wrapped up his doctoral dissertation. What a glorious sabbatical! I thrived on the break from being a "mom-of-four." Our youngest, enrolled in a British school, was the easiest-care version of a 15 year old. I experienced a true respite, attending a wonderful church, surrounded by a city filled with art and music.

Back home, a new job at a university used my connecting, hospitality, and writing gifts. Yet when a doctoral program crossed my horizon, I heard, "GO!" and went back to school. After a few years, I started full-time study. (Done, thanks be to God!) So here I am, called to ministry, educated, and getting closer to retirement age. My husband loves his job and I still love doing ministry, based at home.

The conversation about postponing ministry resonated with me. I've talked to others like me. We've raised our families, volunteered or been on church staff, and gained all kinds of resources and skills. Few of us have been lead pastors though. We've always put someone else ahead of us. We've boosted others into leadership.

That's a really great accomplishment for my peers and me. Many male lead pastors, missionaries, and community leaders benefited from our prayers, counsel, and connections. Many younger women we mentored are in ministry, too. However, we see the pattern repeating: the men gravitate toward a ministry career track. The women drift into family life and/or support roles in ministry. (Someone cares for the kids and the home ... and that's usually Mom.)

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
Women preaching in camp meetings
in the early 1800's
I'm not sure what to think about this. The attrition of women in top leadership roles is of great concern to men and women alike, if they believe the Holy Spirit calls and empowers all believers.

I'm wondering, "What about this issue has impacted your ministry?" Men, are you looking for women to boost into leadership? Women, do you feel called to lead or be the supporter of leaders?

How have you worked out your calling within your reality and church culture?

Read more:
You shall keep my commandments and observe them: I am the Lord. Leviticus 22:31 NLT

*The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 NLT

*Jesus said, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Matthew 8:26 NLT

*Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Lord Jesus, you taught us that love summarizes all the commandments of the law and the prophets. Show us how to love God with every fiber of our beings and help us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Prince of Peace, if we have nothing to fear then let us not live to make other people fear us. Help us lay down our weapons, showing our trust in you and your peace that passes logic, and help us invite others into this more faithful way. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. What a great topic Rosemarie! My question to myself lately is "do I wait too long for God to show me the next step?" "Do I keep 'preparing' instead of looking for a position due to fear of rejection?"
    "Am I really in God's plan and it just doesn't look like anything else I've seen?"

    Don't have any answers, just resonate with the questions.