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Wise Advice

Women in leadership will likely encounter confusing and disappointing relationships. As a conservative, former Southern Baptist woman called to ministry, I am no exception.

Last year, I remember having a discussion about advocacy for women with three male colleagues whom I trusted as committed egalitarians. “What should I think about those who say they support my equality and calling, but who hold positions at institutions that clearly do not support women’s leadership in the church?” I wondered. “How can they stay quiet just for a job?”

I didn’t get the answers I sought from these colleagues at the time, but the next day the Holy Spirit led me to Hebrews 11:24-26:

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward (NIV 2011).

I shared these verses with one of these male colleagues, and I remember praying with thankfulness for men like him and other men like Moses who gave up privileges they could easily have had, in order to walk alongside women like me who are called to ministry.

Two weeks later, however, without warning, that same male friend took a job at a Christian institution where women like me are not allowed to teach. Heartbroken, I wondered how a friend could work in an environment where women are denied opportunities to use their gifts and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading simply because of their gender. Women called to ministry will sometimes have confusing relationships and times of great discouragement. And yet, we also have the opportunity to be extra thankful to Jesus for those friends who do stay by us, for the ones who refuse to benefit from privileges that their sisters in Christ cannot also enjoy.

My advice for other women in ministry who experience this kind of disillusionment? Pray for those who disappointed you, and always leave the door open for reconciliation. Concentrate on those who do recognize your worth and gifts, making a point to thank them for their support. Expressing thankfulness is a means to reinforce the joy that egalitarians give you instead of dwelling on disappointment.

Author: Laura Rector
Laura Rector wrote this some time back for "Arise" and we think it bears repeating.

5 Comments

  1. Don Johnson
    Comment #96436 posted June 28, 2012 at 6:41 am

    What each of us as individuals is to do is follow the promptings of the Spirit. However, the Spirit/wind goes where it will. In other words, what God has called person X to do is not necessarily what God has called person Y to do, needless to say, this can be a source of personal disappointment.

    God tells me to boycott an institution, perhaps because the institution is “boycotting” me. But perhaps God may not have told another to boycott that same institution and who knows why? Each of us are to be faithful to the light we have been given.

    • Robin, M.Div.
      Comment #96458 posted July 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      What if the Caucasian friend of one or more African-Americans took a position at an institution that is demonstrably racist? Or, let’s say — since those institutions tend not to advertise themselves as such — a Caucasian friend took a position at one that doesn’t hire persons of color to teach (or to be pastor), ostensibly because there are no other people of other colors there and “therefore” teachers/pastors of color “couldn’t” be effective mentors/advisors/counselors to the Caucasians? Would you still talk about following the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the same way? And if the friend “has the light” that says discrimination on the basis of color is wrong, isn’t the friend to be faithful to that light? And a supposed egalitarian to the egalitarian light?

  2. Sarah
    Comment #96439 posted June 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    My first thought was, what kind of Christian institution was this? What kind of job did he take? How “outspoken” about this issue would he allowed to be? He could have potentially taken a job that he shouldn’t have taken, or he may be placed there to bring about change for the institution. Even so, I’m disappointed that the friend didn’t explain his choice to Laura after they had a whole conversation about advocacy and Hebrews 11. Her disappointment/heartbreak could have been avoided if her friend decided to really be a friend and have an honest chat with her.

  3. Jeanne
    Comment #96440 posted June 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I have just been disappointed by being refused a ministry position largely because of my egalitarian position.I had felt stongly called to apply and am saddened and confused by being vetoed at the last minute, after I had been ackowledged as a great candidate and informally offered the role. Tx for the reminder, that even out of my hurt,I should be praying for the man (a person I have known for 25 years) who has disappointed me….

  4. Looking Up To A Man
    Comment #96912 posted November 2, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Why do we do this only find that we take on the very negative and destructive habits of judging and hatefulness that they express? The habits we silently watched, silently ignored and eventually assumed.

    This has happened to me and it is very sick and sad.

    Of course, we are held responsible for our actions and never will they take the blame for their effect on our behavior – all the while they have been asserting a role of leadership over us.

    Common sense blows this one right of the water. We are equal. Period. End of Story.

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