Girls On The Rise – Part 2: Smash The Ceiling

This is part 2 of a series on what the bible has to say about letting women lead.

Click HERE to start at part uno.

Culture is making progress when it comes to women in leadership and positions of authority. It might not be as fast paced as some people would like, but most change takes time over time. The church in particular has never been fully on board, but throughout the years it has found a couple loopholes when it comes to letting women lead.

When allowed, they can lead Kids. Worship. Women.

These are the ministries women are “empowered” to oversee within the church. Now there are some churches that fully endorse and establish women in leadership. They quickly become labeled as liberal, a term that holds a wide variety of meaning: from sucker punch to bullying to excommunication. (When I witness that treatment, I get discouraged, because I guess we would label Jesus pretty quickly as well.)

Are those three ministries all Jesus had in mind when he said, “come follow me?”

What about senior leadership? President of an outreach or mission organization? Denominational leadership? Pastoral leadership?

I can hear Jesus now, one hand on his belt buckle, the other tipping his hat, “Whoa, whoa, whoa little darlin’. I reserved those saddles for the big boys. Now go run along and play.”

It’s just funny, in most Catholic and Evangelical churches, women can lead little girls and boys, worship, and women. Men are off limits.

That’s their glass ceiling, and that’s our loss.

If that were the case when Jesus died, the disciples may have never known that Jesus was alive.

The crucifixion story contains some powerful imagery. From the time Jesus stressed blood from his brow in the garden before his arrest; to the exchange of the criminal Barrabas for Jesus; to the moment when a man named Simon assisted Jesus in carrying his cross; to the time when the sacred veil of the temple tore. Every piece of the story explains an angle of Jesus’ sacrifice that is essential for understanding the expanse of the Gospel.

One of the most captivating aspects of the condemnation of Jesus is that the women never leave him. Even though the men (except one) desert and deny him, the women stay true. At the foot of the cross. At the burial. At the gravesite.

And at the resurrection.

The women were the first to the empty tomb. The first to find out that he was alive. The first to tell the disciples. You know, the men.

These women were proclaiming good news–the best news, for God’s sake! Jesus was alive. All their fears undone and now death was moving in reverse. And these few loyal women had the holy privilege of bearing witness of it all, to men.

Here’s the kicker, from Luke’s gospel account: “But [the disciples] did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” ‭

Just like a man.

If I were one of the women I’d be foot stompin mad at that encounter. Jesus had been telling them for all of three years that he was going to die and rise again, he does it and IT SOUNDS LIKE NONSENSE from the lips of some devoted ladies. Why I oughta beat you with a rolling pin!

This is our problem.

There are so many fantastic females out there who are communicating the good news of Jesus Christ to a world of young girls, young boys, and women. The men are missing out.

My wife is a fan of Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, and Shauna Niequest. I respect my wife more than anybody. She is one of, if not THE wisest woman on the planet. I want to read those who are shaping and renewing her life and soul. If these women are influencing my wife’s life, why wouldn’t I want them to influence my life too?

What saddens me about what I have read of these inspiring authors is that they write to women. Male authors have the privilege of writing to men and women, but women can only write to women? Bogus. From my quiet little corner of the internet, I want to implore you and your tribe to write for men too.

FOR. THE. LOVE! (Wink, wink. I see you Jen!) I’m not 100%, but I’m pretty sure Jen reads this blog a couple times every week.

You see the thing is, when a big dog celebrity pastor puts out a disclaimer against women in “leadership” over men, it’s us men who suffer. As men, we are not a integrated whole ourselves. Women are our counterparts. We’re missing a rib and they compliment our gaps. They do not fill in our weak spots they balance us out. We do not complete each other, we increase each other. And to be clear, men do not balance out women by making decisions for them, and women do not balance out men by cooking for them. 

We balance each other out by sharing the aspects of the image of God with each other that we do not possess within ourselves.

We need each other to experience God more fully.

We need the voices and leadership of men and women.

Which makes me think of Star Wars.

The church is traditionally 20-50 years behind the culture. We catch up on style and customs and technology once it goes out of style. There are some champs out there who are doing some really great work to shorten the gap, to increase the church’s presence and influence within the culture. But they usually get labeled liberal…

If you’ve been paying attention to the latest episodes of Star Wars, you’ve noticed that females have been cast in the lead roles. They’re being cast for more than sex appeal. They’re becoming icons of courage, leadership, skill, strength, and honor. Equal appeal.

HERoes that young girls and boys can look up to and be inspired by.

I’m not one of those guys who says the devil is puppetmaster of Hollywood. I think God is always up to something good, and if Jesus said that if we keep quiet (or hush up those who shouldn’t be), the rocks will cry out. Then why can’t a movie like Star Wars shorten the church’s gap when it comes to authorizing and celebrating the voice, creativity, perspective, contribution, and image of God in women as leaders of the church?

Every good rebellion is built on hope.

Now back to the story of no one believing the nonsense the women were saying about the resurrection. 

It wasn’t everybody. Maybe it was because he had already denied Jesus three times, that he wasn’t going to risk dissing these women as well.

“Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.”

He also went on to tell a few others the good news. Good news he received from a woman, because they’re worth believing.

Women can push on the glass ceiling as hard as they want, but it’s going to take a man, like Peter, to chip at it or down right smash it for them.

Next week we’ll talk about a servant-hearted virgin.


Girls On The Rise – Part 1: The Pride Of Man, The Downfall Of Women

Now seems like a better time than ever to talk about women in leadership.

We are on the verge of having the very first female president in the history of our nation. If we do, I predict that we will become some of the meanest and nastiest people on the planet.

Toward her.

(If the other candidate gets elected, I predict we will become some of the meanest and nastiest people toward others.)

My suspicion is largely influenced by a behavior and a feeling.

The behavior is called moral licensing. I first heard this term listening to Revisionist History, a Malcolm Gladwell podcast. The basic idea being that doing a “good deed” somehow gives people permission to do the wrong thing. Such as, once you do something good for someone, you get a pass to refrain from doing it again. The behavior is also tied to a social perspective known as tokenism, where a person (a Jew in 1940’s Germany, an African American in 1960’s United States, or a woman in the Evangelical church) is given preferential treatment to allow and accept all the unjust and ignorant actions being done to the rest of them.

The feeling is that men feel threatened by women. It is hard to say what we’re threatened by, but I know what women are a threat to.

Our ego and our pride.

There is something that quivers within us at the thought of having to take direction from a lady. It is an odd physiological phenomenon but after middle or high school, or through the brain-washing of most (not all) frat houses, women become second class, second rate, a means to an end. Not subhuman, just sub-man.

This is not to say that there are women who are hindered by their ego and pride, but it rarely roadblocks a man’s progress. The pride and ego of men will always negatively affect the progress of women.

The pride of man has a difficult time taking instruction or critique from anyone, let alone a woman. The ego, the I of man–the I can do it by myself, I can do it for myself, I can prove it to myself, and I don’t need anybody’s help–has no place for others, unless it serves the “I” and “I” get credit. Especially not a woman.

Sure, women can have pride and ego issues as well, but these are the behaviors and feelings women are often subjected to.

These are behaviors and feelings women are subjected to in the church.

I grew up in a fundamentalist church, and the only time I saw a woman lead was singing a song or in front of a flannel board at children’s church.

This is where the behavior and feelings of men often relegate women.

We would never say that though, because the bible told us so.

According to the scriptures, women are not allowed to speak in church, preach in church, or lead in church. BOOM! Let us pray.

These verses are loaded with ancient context which is often hard to nail down, but it is a playground for pride and ego. The bible said they can’t so we can’t sin by letting them.

This is when Jesus starts turning over tables in the most subtle and silent ways, that it makes us think the tables were just like that to begin with.

Jesus was a sage, a Rabbi, with followers known as disciples. A surface glance of his disciples would lead us to believe that Jesus set the standard for a leadership core comprised exclusively of men. His 12 disciples were all men. When you penetrate the surface you’ll come to realize that Jesus had more than 12 disciples and many of them were women. (The make up of the 12 disciples was probably more about symbolism than masculinity.) Their existence in his company is mentioned indirectly and their activity is subversive. Jesus is establishing a new type of spiritual leadership comprised of men and women.

N.T. Wright proposes this idea as the meaning behind the meaning in a popular biblical story of two sisters from the gospel of Luke.

Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus while he was visiting their home. Martha was Ree Drummond things up in the kitchen, for Jesus. As the oven was heating up, so was her irritation with her sister Mary. Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching. Not helping. Martha boils over and sticks it to Jesus, “tell Mary to help me.” To which Jesus responds:

“Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

‭This response is typically explained away for putting Jesus before work, or taking time to be with Jesus before getting to busy with less important matters. Those interpretations have a place, but N.T. Wright pulls out the message behind the message.

The inception of scripture.

To sit at the teacher’s feet is a way of saying you are being a student and picking up the teacher’s wisdom and learning, in order to become yourself a teacher, a rabbi.

BOOM! Let’s pray.

If pride and ego are permitted to drive interpretation than we would only ever use a story about two women as tokens for an good old comfortable object lesson on devotional practice. If pride and ego were driving Luke’s writing of his gospel, this story may have never made it onto the of scripture. For me, this is what convinces me that scripture is inspired. Men writing about Jesus legitimizing women as church leaders is huge in so many ways.

Especially for the pride and the ego.

Next week we’ll talk about how Jesus shatters the glass ceiling.