A short time ago, this video of Victoria Osteen went viral on Social Media, with most sharers expressing their disapproval of the famous couple’s “Health, Wealth, and Happiness” doctrine. In the weeks following this, I noticed an online resurgence of the age-old women-in-ministry debate that was sparked by this video for one peculiar reason: She. Blogs bounced all over the internet from many of our country’s most renowned Pastors that the heretical comments were allowed to happen because a woman was allowed to teach on stage in the first place.
I thought that implication was grossly unfair considering all of the bad theology you can get from countless male preachers just about anywhere.
Full-Bible believing theologians have been arguing about a whole array of things since the early church, including this. If you’re curious as to where I stand: I am a tongue speaking, medium-rare Calvinist, who is egalitarian in my view of men and women (Women can preach and teach). My husband and I feel we have been called to Pastor someday and are firm believers in the “ministry team” approach.
But if you passionately disagree with that, don’t worry. This isn’t a blog to try to get you to join our side. In fact, if anyone is going to get offended here today, it’s going to be the women who militantly fight for time in the pulpit and female leadership in the church.
This issue has long been mislabeled the “women in ministry” debate, when the specific acts of service in question are preaching to, teaching, and holding leadership positions over men. But real ministry, the kind that transforms lives and helps people to grow in Christ, doesn’t happen in the pulpit.
I have been a believer for 16 years. Between Sunday service, youth group, camps, conferences, and Podcasts, I have heard well over 2,000 sermons. In all honesty, I can’t point back to one specific one and say, “This changed me”, or, “This speaker made me who I am”. Instead, it was the intentional discipleship that my Church family offered me: The late night talks with my friend’s parents who made me a part of their family, the time my Youth Pastor’s wife picked me up and took me shopping with her for their baby furniture and would ask me how my Bible reading was going and what God was teaching me, and all the countless coffee dates with my mentors. People showed me Jesus and were there when I needed them. My leaders loved me when I was unlovable and walked with me through failures and victories.
I am all for women speaking and teaching, but let’s be very careful that our fight is for the cross and not the crown. All of the ministries that count, that make the greatest impact on individual lives are already available to women. No one is going to tell you not to have that new family over for dinner. No one is stopping you from taking a youth out to coffee. No one is telling you you can’t give someone a ride, groceries, or go pray with someone who is hurting.
But there’s no glamor in that. No crown. No one to tweet your catchy phrase. There’s no credit, and often no thanks.
I’m not saying that everyone who teaches and leads in church does so because they’re seeking praise and fame. almost all of the Pastors I know are humble shepherds who love Jesus and just want to serve their sheep. But there’s no denying that there’s a temptation to desire positions that come with authority and accolades at the expense of looking past the people God has put right in front of you to serve.
And what if? What if the traditionalists are right, and God speaks from Heaven in a loud voice for all to hear, “Just to clarify things, I don’t want women preaching”! Do you stop serving Him? I hope not. We have to ask ourselves, honestly, if we’re looking for promotion or just taking joy in serving the Lord because our lives are not our own, but His.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. – Matthew 16:24
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace – 1 Peter 4:10
And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:44-45