It’s embarrassing to acknowledge that even though I’ve been in full time Christian ministry for almost 15 years I’ve felt tangled and stuck in the women in leadership debate for the majority of the time. I remember attending a conference for Asian American staff soon after I graduated. I attended a seminar on the Biblical basis for women in leadership. It took on different meaning now that I had graduated and was considering full time ministry. I cried through most of the seminar. I love the Bible and the nagging questions had weighed on me. It was overwhelming to hear each of the troubling passages addressed in a way that respected the authority of Scripture and yet didn’t silence me for a lifetime.
Years later I would attend a seminar where the keynote speaker, a Fuller seminary professor, would again talk through a Biblical basis for women in leadership. I would cry again, listening to him talk about the many costs he had paid to speak up on behalf of Christian women in leadership and a Biblical perspective on the issue. Hearing an older white man speak so passionately to the issue really touched me. He talked about how most men never consider the weight of their views on this issue, never consider what it would be like to be told you are disobeying the Word if you do ministry. He shared about the many accusations and attacks that he had endured speaking up long before the issue had become more mainstream.
I consider myself a pretty confident woman and I have led passionately in ministry since I was in college. But I have often kept silent in church situations, because I have felt stuck. Most of the churches I have been a part of support women in leadership on paper, but not in praxis. I can count on two hands the number of times I have heard a women preach at the church pulpit.
I’m feisty and opinionated about most things. But I’ve felt stuck at the starting line. Always held back by the fact that many fellow believers think it’s unbiblical for women to lead. And I don’t know if it’s reading Lean In, or reading Bossypants, or loving Mindy Kaling. But I’ve decided to be on the other side. I’m going to stop being stuck at the starting line and just be on the other side. I have so many thoughts about being a woman, and leadership, and Benjamin Cumberbatch, that it almost seems like a crime not to share them.
Actually I think that my experience of leadership this last summer really put me in a new place. But more about that later.
And since its inevitable. If you need to read something on the issue. If you’re a woman who sees herself as a leader, but is constipated by “those passages.” Here are two great, very readable articles on the topic. No more on the debate after this post though. I’m going to start on the other side.
CanWomenTeach-2.7637 James Choung