This weekend I’m speaking at the Kaleo Conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the topic is “Unique Issues for Women in Ministry.” I didn’t actually pick the title, but I think it’s perfect–women face so many challenges in ministry that are unique to our gender! It’s actually been quite overwhelming to think about.
But it should be a great weekend as I meet hundreds of young women who are discerning a call to ministry, and we think through what that call means.
You know, as I have prepared my talk and reflected upon the topic itself, I’ve been struck by how perfectly titled the session is. The idea of women being “unique” is a wonderful compass as women figure out what it means to be leaders.
The reason I love the title so much is that the last several decades have seen a trend in which women have sought to erase their femininity as they have served in leadership roles. They have cut their hair, worn pantsuits, and adapted male styles of leadership in order to fit in.
What is ironic about this approach is that it purports to be furthering the cause of women. They do this for the sake of breaking the glass ceiling. But in reality, they’re doing just the opposite–they are instead erasing as much of their femaleness as possible in order to succeed. That doesn’t exactly sound like a step forward for women. It rather seems to be reinforcing the message that women, acting like women, cannot be effective leaders.
But the other problem with women erasing their femininity is that they deny their female strengths, strengths that complement male strengths, to instead mimic what is already out there. They fail to recognize that their differences could actually be a strength.
With all of that in mind, it is important that women in ministry embrace their uniqueness. It is precisely those differences which also serve as our strengths.
Well I’m off to the conference–say a prayer for me Saturday morning because I’ll be speaking 4 times in the morning, each session lasting one hour in what can only be described as a teaching marathon. Whew! But I’ll tell you more about it when I get back. Have a blessed weekend!!