I am an avid reader. I love to digest a great book with a great message. I love hearing the messages the Lord has put on people’s hearts. Many times a book and it’s message will evoke emotions from me. Tears. Anger. Inspiration. Sadness. It all depends on the message. My most recent read has done just that. I’ve felt anger, sadness and frustration as I’ve read it and related to every single word.
I’m two chapters into my latest read. Powerful & Free by Danny Silk. It came up on an Amazon recommendation one day. “Confronting the glass ceiling for women in the church.” It caught my eye and I instantly added it to my wish list. I love the Amazon wish list. Items sit safely until a loved one gives a gift card. So much fun.
This book is fabulous. Every elder in every church needs to read this book. And they need to do so with an open mind. Open to the truth of the Holy Spirit.
When we think of ministry positions in the church, we often associate various positions with a certain gender. So I can prove a point, let’s play a little game. Let’s let your mind tell you what you really think.
When I say the following roles in a church, what gender comes to your mind?
Children’s minister. Nursery coordinator. Pastor. Elder. Board Member. Hospitality team. Greeter. Small group leader. Leadership team member.
Do you see where I’m going?
“How many churches can you think of where the senior paster is a woman? My guess is you can count the number on one hand. Men hold top-tier leadership positions in local churches and denominations almost exclusively. And it’s always been that way, so it feels natural. We are comfortable with the system. It’s just the way it is.” Danny Silk in Powerful & Free
But should it be? Should it be natural? Should it just be the way it is? Should it really be something with which we feel comfortable?
The Lord gave me a vision not too long ago. He showed me a person sitting in a wheel chair. They were gender neutral. I couldn’t tell if they were a man or a woman. As I looked at them, I felt love. Total and complete love. I could also see determination, surrender and good intentions. Then, the person started trying to get up and walk. It was a struggle! One side of the person’s body was paralyzed. It was just as if someone who had a stroke was now trying to get up and walk. They tried and tried. Sweat and tears, trying to lift themselves up to walk. But because one side of their body was paralyzed, they never could get up out of the chair. They would fall down to the ground every time they tried. Finally, they sat back down feeling defeated and gave up. Complacency. They would try again from time to time, but always the paralyzed side caused them to be unable to get up and go.
After the Lord showed me that picture, he told me what it meant. “This is my church,” God said. This is my beloved. My bride. The paralyzed side represents the women in the body of Christ They have been paralyzed. Unable to truly live the life I’ve meant for them to live. Unable to soar. Freedom removed by a few misinterpreted verses in Scripture. It has paralyzed half the body of Christ. The way they teach those words, is not my heart for my body. If they truly knew me, they would know my intention for everyone in the body in the Body of Christ. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. And when the body of Christ comes to know my heart and not just read the words, that is when the church will really thrive. I’m wanting to rise up the body of Christ in revival, but until the women are free and empowered to minister the way I’ve called them to minister, the church will continue to struggle to get out of the chair. Falling down as they try.”
Now, I know what a lot of people are going to say when they read this. “But what about 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:35? Paul is very clear when he says women should not teach men and they should remain silent. I want to live by every word of God!” Well, there is a lot I could say right now in response to this question. But to stay on track, I can’t cover that right now. I can recommend some great resources to read on the topic. I’ll list them at the bottom.
I long for a body of Christ where women are truly free. I long for men and women both to be truly free. Free to minister as the holy spirit leads them. No more limitations. No more glass ceilings.
I am so tired of women getting leadership positions simply because of their husband’s calling or position. Leadership is forced upon them because the body needs female leaders. It’s expected that because their husband leads they too will come beside him and lead. It’s really stupid. “Pastor’s wife” does not automatically qualify you to teach. Nor does not being a pastor’s wife mean you are not a great leader. Look around the room at the next “Christian Leadership Convention” you attend. How many women who are there are truly leaders? How many are just there because they are married to a leader? In my experience, God matches up opposites. So many of the women in attendance are just there because their husband leads. Not because it’s a true passion or calling for them personally. It comes from an expectation, not from the Holy Spirit.
I am a strong and capable leader. I have visions and passions. Yet I have been stifled and questioned any time I’ve tried to step up as a leader in the body. The only time I wasn’t questioned was when it was an area where women are expected to lead. When I wanted to do a Vacation Bible School or run the church nursery, the men stepped aside and let me run with it. But when I wanted to lead worship, speak out prophetically over someone to encourage or preach God’s word from the front of the church building, the list of male empowerers could be written on a very short piece of paper.
This breaks my heart. I know I’m not alone.
As I’ve been reading the first couple chapters of this book, I’ve been both enraged and in tears. I have such a deep longing for something I know the Lord is calling me into. But I have been stifled all my life. Stifled by a root of theology that I know is not really what God means. It doesn’t match his heart at all.
Men are not better, more intelligent or more capable than women. Somehow we’ve adopted this idea that men are better leaders simply because they are physically stronger. Women are the weaker vessel. Less worthy or capable. Even in our more politically correct culture today, women are still held back by this underlying idea. It’s a lie, plain and simple.
Genesis tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and when he created man, he was incomplete until Eve was taken from his rib and placed by his side. And it wasn’t until Adam and Eve where there, as equals, completing God’s creation that God gave them dominion over the earth. Hear that! “God didn’t give man dominion over the earth until woman was standing beside him.” (David J Hamilton in Why Not Women?)
As I read the beginning of this book, the Lord gave me another vision. I saw a large body of Believers. All shapes, sizes, colors, genders, styles and ages. In this body there were no divisions of any kinds. No youth ministry. No women’s ministry. No nursery. No married or singles ministry. No college and career class. None of that. All dividing lines man has given the body of Christ were removed. They were all there with their differing races, creeds, genders and ages standing in unity under the cross. No one saw each other according to their sin, gender, skin color or personality. It was all removed. Instead I saw a body where people of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, styles and ages were unified as pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles. They were not known by anything other than their calling in one or more of these roles. It was so beautiful. They were side by side. Unified under the cross. Operating in the 5 ministries Paul describes in Ephesians 4:11-13. No more “womens’ retreats”. Instead “retreats for Believers” where everyone was encouraging and ministering in unity. No more “youth group.” Instead teens were using Spiritual gifts to change the world. Not because they were a teen, but because they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Then the Lord told me this. When my people stop dividing people by their earthly eyes and placing dividers on the body by what they see in the carnal world, then their eyes will be open to start seeing things through Spiritual eyes. When they will stop dividing the body into categories, that’s when I will pour out my spirit and true revival will come. When they stop paralyzing parts of the body, that’s when true revival will come as I pour out my spirit on this land. The only “tags” in the body of Christ should be those I’ve given to bring unity. Apostle, teacher, pastor, evangelist and prophet. And yes, women have complete freedome to lead as my spirit leads them in these roles.
Note from the author- I know this is a hot topic. I’ve debated people who are aligned firmly in one direction or another. It’s not my job or my place to convince you. That’s the role of the Holy Spirit. So I encourage you to get like Moses did with God in the tent of meetings on this topic. Ask for truth and revelation. And know that Jesus didn’t come to die the gruesome death he did so his Body could squabble over the details. In love, be fully convinced in your own mind and let not what is right for you be spoken of evil by others (Romans 14).
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