Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ten Things Your Pastor Wishes You Knew About Her.

1. She is not a woman pastor.

She is a pastor. No one says, “This is Pastor Steve – he’s a man pastor.”

Having her gender attached to her job title as a (dis)qualifier diminishes both her, and the role of pastor.

2. Yes, she has read 1 Timothy 2:12.

Also 1 Corinthians 14:34.

Often. In fact it is likely she has spent many, many, many more hours than you pouring over and wrestling with those texts.

3. She doesn't do it for the fun of it.

She has argued, wrestled, cried, lamented, and railed against her call.
She has been to Tarshish many times on her way to Nineveh. She does not exist to make a point, to make waves, or to make you mad. She is (and should be) obedient to her God, not to her critics.

4. She is soft.

She is soft not because of her gender, but as all people are soft - by nature of the biological and psychological reality of humanity. She works to REMAIN soft, despite the abrasions and burns of life. Because only psychopaths are content to be hardened and heartless.

5. She has been hurt.

Recently. Possibly by you.

It is a tough gig.

When she is hurt she is like an athlete competing on a broken foot. But she keeps doing her job anyway, because she is obedient to her call. Your positive feedback and encouragement on the job she is doing help her heal from those hurts more than you can imagine.

6. She loves her family.

Not all pastors have children, but all have some kind of group of humans she calls family.
If you hurt them, you hurt her and reduce her ability to be effective in ministry. Yes, she will devote some of her time and energy to the care of her family. This is good and scriptural. She loves it when you support her in this.

She does not put church first and family second. She puts God above all things. God takes care of the priorities from there.

7. She has a title.

She may prefer you to use it. She may prefer to be called by name.

But if you do use a title use the correct one. 

She may be Jane, or Pastor Jane... but she is NEVER Miss Jane.
Yes, this includes when you introduce her to someone outside of your church or religious group. When you introduce your doctor to a friend you don’t demote him to ‘Mr.’ Even Protestants call the Roman Catholic leader  ‘Pope’.

If you can't respect her, at least respect the office.

8. She is not a feminist.

Or she is. Really that's up to her. By definition, a feminist is simply ‘a person who supports the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.’

But she is not automatically a feminist by virtue of her gender or profession.

It is likely, however, that  she has spent at least some time wishing people would be less genderist (look it up).

9. She wishes she had a 'clergy wife'.

(She has this point in common with her male colleagues.)

Single or married, she has heard of these mythical creatures who play piano , lead Sunday School classes, keep the home and any children clean fed and happy. . . and she would LOVE to have one of them! Who wouldn't?

Sounds awesome!

Instead (if she is married) she has a spouse who is her partner in the home, and who holds their own position of value in the world; possibly, even, a position of paid employment. Her spouse (if she has one) is not an unpaid, extra church staff member. Take your church issues up with her, not her spouse (or her kids).

10. I do not speak for her.

She shook her head at least once while reading this. She is diverse and unique and her story is her own.

And she would love an opportunity to share that story with you.

11. She makes mistakes.

See? Even in counting points in a blog post.

She makes mistakes, not by nature of being female, but because she is a flawed, broken human being who is redeemed only through the grace of God. She craves forgiveness just as badly any other person.

. . .

So. What did I leave out? What would YOU add to this list? I look forward in particular to reading the responses of my sistren in ministry.


Jeannie K said...

She is not confined in ministry to mainly pastoral work, which she may or may not love...

planter said...

A brilliant post, thank you

Sarah Eden Jones said...

So sad, but so true. Hoping you can go back to God with all the hurt and pain and know his protective love for you and find in him the forgiveness and strength you need. He is your Defender and He knows and sees all. He loves your obedience to Him, and it is for him you are working.

A note of caution, many male pastors also have similar tales of hurt and insensitivity from their congregations. The gender label maybe used but it would be something else if not.
God bless.

Amy said...

Hi Sarah,
Thanks for the feedback.

As the wife of a male pastor I am very aware of the hurts and insensitivities they can receive from their congregations (and I am also aware of a number of blog posts currently receiving a lot of positive attention on this topic for pastors who are male).

Their stories are not mine, though, and I can only speak with my own voice.

Grace and peace. :)

Cynthia said...

What she wears for clothing or ornamentation is not up for discussion or debate. Nor are you required to notice hair color.

Just because men have limited wardrobe choices, when have we ever said, "Nice suit. Where did you get your tie?" Rather we usually shake hands and offer some comment on the sermon, rather than "Where do you get your hair done?"

Also, we are not your daughters or mothers. We are your sister in Christ.

Jill said...

Ha. I had Amy do a twirl to see her haircut the other day. I hope I'm forgiven. lol.

Melanie said...

And if she is single, then she's not "married to the church". There is a possibility that she would like to be married, and you are being hurtful by reminding her of it.
And if she's single then it's not "a good thing because she has more time to devote to the church". She needs her own time, as much as a married/parent pastor needs to spend time with her spouse/child.

Teri Summers-Minette said...

12. Her compensation package should not be evaluated by how much her spouse makes.

Barbara Shelton said...

Beautifully and thoughtfully explained. This is my first real blessing today and I take it to heart. We each have a calling and our Lord requires that we love one another, that includes respecting our pastor. These ten things are wished for by all within the church. Thank you.

Julia S. said...

She does not need to hear that she is better to look at than the previous (male) pastor!

Lucy Mills said...

Love this!

Joel Zehring said...

I don't respect the office of pastor any more than any other member of the body.

I don't call a believer gifted with mercy "mercy-giver Bill."

I don't believe in a clergy/laity divide because everyone who is found in Christ is clergy.

Anonymous said...

She does not need you to constantly mention her age (old/young) in every conversation, especially when meeting visitors or new members, and especially at every meeting of every church committee.

Haley said...

She wishes you would be honest with her (and yourself) when your issue with her is really about gender. Don't worry about her thinking you are sexist for being against her because she's a woman. She already knows that's the real reason, and she isn't judging you, because she's struggled with that, too. She would much rather you struggle openly and honestly with her than insist it's really because you don't like her sermons. (or, God forbid, her outfit) By insisting it's about something else to keep yourself from looking bad, all you're actually doing is tearing her down needlessly and robbing you both of what could be a very fruitful discussion.

Robert Brawn said...

Excellent points. I enjoyed reading this post, and I shared it in FaceBook and in an email to several pastor friends of mine. Thanks for sharing.

D. Arvelo said...

She may also want you to respect her personal space. Not every woman wants a hug (or a grope) from someone she's not intimate with.

Shalom said...

Love this! Thank you for sharing!

I'd add, don't assume she's weak and emotional just because she's a woman.
Just because she's young doesn't mean she lacks wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God, not only something accompanying gray hairs.

Michael J B said...

If I was in your congregation, would it be ok for me to say (in a proud, older brother manner)"THAT'S my sister!" :-)

Tim Murphy said...

She is totally cool, has her own opinion on Star Wars movies, appreciates a Starbucks for her too if you are coming that way anyway, and is a great friend who can do that in addition to being your pastor.

Anonymous said...

Amen! BTW, All of these Points also apply to women in other male dominated professions -- like university professors. It's really about being both human and Professional.

Anonymous said...

She wonders why you do not notice your gender bias when you refer to the male assistant pastor as "FATHER" but call her "reverend." If you absolutely must call him "FATHER," why do you not absolutely insist on calling her "MOTHER?" This is not a battle she can fight, dear church members, for obvious (sexist) reasons. She's come a long way, baby, but still has far to go. Will you help?

Elizabeth said...

This is a great post! I have often wished my parishioners would stop and think about what they're saying for a moment before they start introducing their "young lady pastor." I never heard them introduce the previous one as "the old man pastor!"
These words of insight are well worded and much needed. Thank you!
Also, I agree with the comment above about how we're better to look at - would anyone EVER say that to a male pastor? I think not!

Anonymous said...

She wants you to know that women pastors can and do have the gift of prophecy and vision. She may be bold in her leadership. She will not be surprised when some people balk, but she may be sad or frustrated. However, if she is gifted, she will keep leading and praying you will follow.

diana said...

Oh, well done! A great list and some great additions in the comments, too. A few things I might add (retired after 17 years in pastoral ministry as an associate):

She has feelings, just like everyone else. If you consistently invite the male senior pastor to social events and seldom think to include her, it will feel hard and strange.

When she preaches, comment on the sermon, not her appearance in the pulpit.

She is there to work for you and with you, but not instead of you. Don't expect her to make the coffee/set up the tables and chairs/do church secretarial work. She may be happy to do some or all of these things, just don't assume she will. 'Doing church' is something clergy and laity do together, right?

Anonymous said...

Under the point "She has a title" I would add that she also has a name. Where I serve, the pastor is often just called "Pastor" instead of Pastor Name or just by their name. I am a person, not a position! And so are all my colleagues in ministry.

cherie inksetter said...

Don't assume she's a pushover just because she's a woman.
Respect her leadership as you would respect it from a male pastor.
Don't assume that just because she's a woman she's going to bake the pies for the bazaar, would you expect that from a man?

Anonymous said...

Paul says, The Bible appeals to creation, not culture when the Scripture mandates the biblical qualifications of elders, and pastors. Γυνὴ ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ μανθανέτω ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ· γυναικὶ δὲ διδάσκειν οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ ὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλ᾿ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ. ᾿Αδὰμ γὰρ πρῶτος ἐπλάσθη, εἶτα Εὕα. καὶ ᾿Αδὰμ οὐκ ἠπατήθη, ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἐξαπατηθεῖσα ἐν παραβάσει γέγονε·

Amy said...

Congratulations, you have a Greek New Testament.

Please refer to point #2.

revsharkie said...

She does not represent her entire gender. If she makes a mistake, don't make every female pastor you encounter thereafter pay the penalty. No one ever says, "We had a male pastor once, and X happened, so we'll never consider a man again."

Cynthia Astle said...

Rev. Amy, I would like to reprint your excellent blog post on United Methodist Insight, Please respond to PS I am in the Order of Saint Luke with your spouse, Mike Rayson, who posted the link to your blog on OSL's Facebook page. Thanks! Cynthia Astle

Amy said...

Based on our understanding of Biblical teachings, we affirm the following:
1. Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons
and distinct in their manhood and womanhood.
2. Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the
created order, and should find an echo in every human heart.
3. Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not
a result of sin.
4. The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women.
— In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by
domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be
replaced by usurpation or servility.
— In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an
abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations
on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.
5. The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high
value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women. Both
Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family
and in the covenant community.
6. Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse.
— In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow
in love and care for their wives; wives should forsake resistance to their
husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’
— In the church, redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in
the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles
within the church are restricted to men.
7. In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that
no earthly submission—domestic, religious, or civil—ever implies a mandate to
follow a human authority into sin.
8. In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used
to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries. Rather, Biblical teaching
should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.
9. With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with
countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the
stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy,
ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no
man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word
and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and
the good of this fallen world.
10. We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to
increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the
culture at large.
The “Danvers Statement” was prepared by several evangelical leaders at a CBMW
meeting in Danvers, Mass., in December, 1987. It was first published in final form by the
CBMW in Wheaton, Ill., in November, 1988. We grant permission and encourage
interested persons to use, reproduce, and distribute the Danvers Statement.

Amy said...

Hmm, well Amy as I was reading I thought about thanking you for taking the time to put together such a carefully reasoned response - I mean, I disagree completely, but that is a lengthy comment.
At the end, though, I discovered that what you have posted has actually been copied and pasted (with permission, I see, so that's all good) from somewhere else.

Again, I invite you to consider point #2 listed in the body of the post.

As we read in Ecclesiastes 'there is nothing new under the sun' and I assure you The 'Danvers Statement' that you shared indeed offers nothing new that this pastor (and countless others like her) has not already prayerfully considered and rejected when weighed against the full weight of scripture.

I would continue, but I suspect I have already spent more minutes of original thought on this response than you did in copying and pasting yours.