A few months ago, I took a spiritual gifts test as part of a Bible study I was leading. Traditionally, I’ve been a teacher and encourager, mostly. So, imagine my surprise when one of my results was pastoring/shepherding.
To some of you, that may not be reason for shock or embarrassment, but as someone who has spiritually grown up in a church and denomination that does not ordain women as pastors (and in some ways interprets that to exclude women from any kind of leadership position), I didn’t know what to do with that information. I tried to explain it away as being a gift I picked up from my husband who was in seminary at the time.
But when I read about the gift and talked about it with my husband, I realized I had no reason to fear or be embarrassed.
Our views — my husband’s and mine — of women in ministry have evolved over the last four years, and I’m much more open to the idea of women as pastors, leaders and teachers than I ever used to be.
And after reading The Resignation of Eve by Jim Henderson, I’m inspired and impassioned to encourage women in using their gifts in the church, whatever those gifts may be.
Henderson presents a “what if?” scenario. What if all the women in your church suddenly didn’t show up one Sunday? What roles would be missing? What wouldn’t get done?
That, itself, is an interesting proposition. At our current church, the answer would be: a lot. I thought of that on Sunday at church as I looked around at the pianist, the teachers, the congregants and greeters. Our church is not devoid of men, but women certainly contribute their more-than-fair share.
Henderson proposes that women are the backbone of the church yet are, in some communities and denominations, not allowed to hold leadership positions or become pastors. Using statistics from a survey of women and the personal stories of women he interviewed, Henderson explores this controversial issue. And he does so with humor, grace and compassion.
I loved this book. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have even picked it up. Even three years ago, I might have thought him crazy to even consider such a topic. Now, though, I’ve met women — Jesus-loving, compassionate, intelligent, committed women — who are called to be pastors. Who ARE pastors. And my mind is no longer closed to the idea.
It’s a book that will challenge you. Maybe even make you mad. I guess what I appreciate most is that it opens discussion. And sheds light on a topic some people refuse to talk about.
Read at your own risk. And with an open mind.
Here’s chapter 1 to get you started.