A while back I saw a meme quoting a woman saying that women shouldn’t be able to be president because of her fluctuating hormones. “She’d be likely to start a world war”, the woman argued. It’s laughable at first, for so many reasons. The first reasons that come to mind for me are that one, men have fluctuating hormones too and two, (which was the interviewers response to this woman’s statement) “haven’t all world wars been started by men”?
But after the initial chuckle, it breaks my heart. The wounds and damage behind this thinking go deep. What happened to that woman that made her the first person to discount and distrust, not just herself, but all of fellow womankind? Who told her that the very fact that she is a woman is a flaw? What happened to each of us that made us say, “oh no, never me” in response to callings of leadership or positions of trust?
I remember believing those same things and scrounging up reasons why women were not to be trusted, why they couldn’t be leaders; why I should believe the worst of myself. In some ways I feared my very existence. Being a woman felt dangerous.
I apologize for all the church lingo about to go down, but it’s funny how often I worried about a “Jezebel spirit”, or being a stumbling block (don’t go bathing on rooftops); the hours I spent changing and re-changing my clothes agonizing over whether my clothing options were going to cause the men in the congregation I was leading in worship to sin. Ok, that last part I wouldn’t exactly call “funny”. I should have been preparing with prayer and intercession and scripture and worship, but my god-given identity, how I was taught to fear it, and just the very fact that I have a human woman’s body, caused deep-seeded terror that I may somehow unintentionally derail a mans ministry or walk with the Lord. It never occurred to me that a man’s ministry and his walk with God are his responsibility alone. If my (agonized over) outfit is all it takes to cause a mans relationship with God to suffer, his relationship probably had a poor foundation to begin with.
Additionally, did I hear of many men cowering in fear over being a stumbling block for women, or having the “spirit of Saul”? Far from it. In fact, Saul’s brash and insecure method of ruling in the old testament is the preferred leadership style in many Christian circles today. This is not a “male-bashing” post, I believe in men and think that patriarchy has done a great violence against them as well. I’m raising a son and want to see him able to flourish in his identity, but that is another post entirely. I say all of this to point out that there is far more that we are working towards than just putting more women in a room or on a stage. There are layers to this; centuries of lies believed, scriptures misinterpreted, lazily read and taught (some great resources on this here and here). There is much rebuilding to be done still, much healing to begin, to see the full image of God at work in His church.
I see the tide changing though, and I am thankful. Thankful for growth and healing, for learning that Jesus trusts me to make wise and competent decisions in areas I had never trusted myself before. Thankful for Jesus’ example in scripture of calling out worth and strength in women. Thankful for women preachers, teachers, authors, and leaders that push back against the darkness, showing me that not only is it possible for a woman to lead, but that it is absolutely necessary that she do so.
My point, and what I really want you to hear is this:
You are capable and wise in ways you’ve been told you are dangerous. And you are dangerous in ways you’ve been told you are incompetent and weak. A really good kind of dangerous.
Get to work. Fulfill your call, whatever it is, without shame and with holy boldness.
The world desperately needs the image of God that you bear, so no more of this hiding/disqualifying yourself business, deal? Deal.