I myself am a little tired of the whole woman pastor debate, as it went on for a while on my personal blog a few weeks ago.
I’m tired of it because debating rarely changes anybody’s mind and because I really–really–have more important things to do with my time.
But I do realize that I am one of the very few in a large group of Baptist women called by God who has somehow found her way to a pulpit. And it seems lately that I’ve been called on to speak up on this issue whether I really want to or not.
Just call me “Reluctant Activist.”
Two things circulated in my life this past week that brought the issue up again, so here I go again:
First, I chuckled about the recent reports of Southern Baptist criticism for CBF churches because they are not hiring enough women. You can’t win for losing, you know, but this time … this time, whether he means to be or not, Al Mohler is right.
My, I never thought I’d say that.
Yes, while things are picking up for women pastors in Baptist life, it is still ridiculously difficult for talented, trained and called women to find pulpits. Much of this is social mores and just the fact that many folks have never seen a woman in the pulpit; this fact, however, does not excuse more moderate folks from working harder to open ministry opportunities to women, especially those who want to pastor.
Second, I have now staying in my basement a former intern whom I would consider to be an exceptionally talented young minister. She’s one of the good ones, you know, one of those who is really going to make an impact on Baptist life. She’s smart, articulate, driven, committed, faithful–all the things you’d want your pastor to be.
Having recently graduated from Duke Divinity School and determined to stick within Baptist life, it’s a sad but true statement that if she were a man she would have numerous opportunities to pastor. But now she is still interviewing, hoping to relocate to the area in a ministry position that will allow her to use her considerable gifts and excellent education. (Read her funny blog entries: The Pastor Goes to Ann Taylor.)
As I watch her wait and struggle, this one who is exceptionally qualified and vastly talented, I remember the pain of wondering whether I’d ever get a chance, praying for clarity and hanging on for dear life to the conviction that God had some business with my life and would never let me rest until I started participating. (I haven’t yet told her that once you actually get a chance sometimes the expectations of 100 percent, every moment, overachieving excellence are a little bit wearing.)
The women I admire, pastors to God’s people, they are women who just want to be pastors, not activists. But somebody’s got to give us a chance to try our hands at the helm of ministry, carefully manicured though they may be.
And just because Al Mohler said it, don’t dismiss it. Let’s show him that we practice what we preach, that we really believe God can call whomever God wants. Shall we?
As an act of faith I declare here the witness of three women I know to be exceptional pastors: Dorisanne Cooper, Julie Pennington-Russell and Amy Jacks Dean. Leave your links here in the comments as the beginning of a list we can compile together so that perhaps sooner rather than later we can declare with conviction, “Al was WRONG!”