|Posted by Donna Dawson on August 22, 2011 at 8:00 AM|
I get tired of the constant battle for leadership within the church as a whole. Men don't understand that the world's--and too often, the church's--definition of authority leaves women feeling as though they are nothing but an afterthought in the scheme of creation. It is the reason why so many women have rejected the church. We are capable, competent and ambitious and yet, in the setting where our gifts should be valued most, we are left feeling as though we are on the outside looking in at a 'holy men's club'.
Now before I get lambasted for my 'feminist views' let me make it clear that I do believe there are definite leadership roles within the community of faith. Just as I believe that the man who leads the church should not be called 'pastor, teacher or father' (Matthew 23: 8-12) so I believe that God has appointed a man to lead the church and not a woman. Scripture does not belittle women by making that appointment and neither is it set in stone that women may never lead as is seen in Judges 4 & 5 with Deborah who led the nation of Israel. But God has made it clear that someone has to lead and he appointed men to do the task. Two people vying for leadership only creates strife.
So does the Bible offer compromise without compromising its position? Yes, I believe so. God didn't contradict himself by stating that women shouldn't lead and then putting Deborah into a place of leadership. He made it quite clear that he preferred men to lead unless the men were unwilling. So why choose the men and not the women?
I hate to say it (being a woman and all) but men do make better leaders. They aren't as emotional (for the most part), they think with logic far more often (for the most part) and they don't pull back from a task in order to raise a family (a necessity when running a church or a business). Statistically, men achieve CEO status far more than women even in this society of equality. Men are more driven. They are more likely to find the most direct way to meet goals and least likely to suffer nervous breakdowns (as a whole). Am I saying that women have no part? By no means!
Women have great and unusual gifts. We can feel and express emotion like few men can. That gives us empathy for those around us that men struggle to fathom (as a general rule). We are more nurturing by nature. We have a different kind of memory set-up in our brains. We can multi-task better. So how should men and women share the ministry? By understanding themselves and it better.
The task of leadership within the church is often delegated to men and then those men wonder why it isn't functioning at its fullest. To understand this we need to look at the covenant of marriage. In essence, God has designed marriage like no other earthly relationship. Man and wife are not to be separated by anything. Not friends. Not children. Not family. Not work. And, most definitely, not church. When a man becomes an elder, his family life is to be examined too. His relationship with his wife and children are to be taken into account. If his wife is a doormat, he will lead the church with dominance. If his wife is overbearing, he will be wimpy. If his children are little hellions then he will not be able to maintain discipline in the running of the faith community. So what is the ideal?
Ideally, leadership should be team work. If church leaders are expected to be at weekly meetings, interacting with parishioners, being involved in volunteer work, all the while leaving their wives at home, this goes against scripture--what God has joined together, let no man separate. The church has just separated the union of marriage. Try this for an idea.
A man and wife are examined by the leadership of the church and found to meet the requirements. Their children are functioning, upright adults, proving that they have met the requirements of having their family under control. They have a thriving marriage of co-respect (did you know that honouring your wife is actually more difficult than submitting to your husband--and that those words had a different meaning in scripture than they do today? Today, submission means--door mat. Then, it meant--putting another's needs above your own by choice. Today, honouring means--remembering her birthday. Then, it meant--giving her the highest level of respect possible.)
So, they are chosen and elected, along with several other couples. Elder meetings are set and both husbands and wives arrive. The husbands go to one room or office where they deal with the leadership of the church. The wives go to another room to pray--and not just to pray randomly.
Three buckets are set in the prayer room. One contains all the names of the leaders of the church. One contains the main areas of a person's life ie: marriage, children, work etc. The final one contains temptations ie: lust, greed, anger etc. Each woman draws one slip of paper from each bucket and is responsible for praying over those three things--she prays in general for the elder she has chosen, she prays for the marriage of all the leadership members and she prays against the temptation of choice for all the leadership members. When everyone has taken their turn, they grab another three pieces of paper. They continue to pray until the elders' meeting is adjourned. This becomes the format for every elders' meeting.
How does this scenerio benefit? Well--you have married couples working together to lead the church. You have men fulfilling the job God has given them to do. You have women working in a position of leadership as well (more so since they are petitioning God on behalf of those who lead the church) while being the scriptural helpmates they have been called to be. You have the leadership covered in prayer during every meeting. You have a sense of closeness among the husband and wife team of each elder--and so many more benefits!
I had one gentleman say, "I couldn't have my wife with me as a co-elder. There are some things she just doesn't get and I can't say all I need to when she's there." My question is: "why is this man an elder? He doesn't fit the requirements."
I had a church leader say, "No one would qualify for elder then. Not many of the wives can handle that kind of responsibility." After I got over the insult, I gently pointed out, "Is God not big enough to provide a man who fits the criteria He has laid out?"
The debate needs to end. Men need to realize that they undermine a woman's worth when they subtly imply that her gender omits her from using the gifts God has given her. Women need to realize that simply because God has given men a job different to theirs doesn't mean he doesn't love them as much as men--doesn't mean they are an afterthought while men are the main event.
People, let's stop the nonsense and get the work done.