I recently responded to The Naked Pastor at one of his posts that brought up the issue of fearless women.
I have always asked myself why most of the fearless people I have known in church have been women. I can come up with an evolutionary, genetically based answer – don’t mess with their nest and where they want to raise their young.You mess with the gene pool and you are messing with them. Can’t figure out if this is sexist or not. But one way or another, they take what happens at church as critical to their lives and will take incredibly brave stands to preserve the good. I have seen a lot, and I mean a lot, of “whatever” Napoleon Dynamite men. So many that I just wonder sometimes. Around a lot of pastors who are making it in the war that is the church is a group of women storm troopers who know that the pastor is in a battle. It seems that Jesus had such around him,too, though only male apostles. It would be great to have women chime in on their explanation of why this phenomenon exists.
I see this phenomenon at every church I have ever been in. My pastor friends have, too. There are just some women who incredibly care and are incredibly powerful in commitments and loyalties without compromising their femininity. (spell that last word five times in a row quickly – I can’t). I have talked to plenty of males about whom I conclude that they may care. They just don’t care enough.
We are all familiar with the strong, silent type male. We are all familiar with the gabs-a-lot-doesn’t-show-up-on-workday male. We all know the I’m-too-busy-with-my-career male. And we certainly know the typical-show-up-at-board-meetings-and-have-my-say male who can’t be counted on to lead a ministry, take an initiative and actually do the work of the church.
When I was in seminary I remember one of my profs telling us about “pillow elders”. These are the wives of the church leaders who remind their husbands before they drift off to sleep what has to be done in church. The prof was reminding us how critical these women were to the health of the church and to remember how important their role is.
I do know after 40 years in church ministry that women are incredibly aware of this phenomenon and that most of them would not be caught dead on a church board. They don’t want to waste all that time. Their appetite for work, advancing the cause, culling out slackers, and taking risks is amazing to behold. Putting them on a board is like putting a lion in a cage. The men can show up and act like they are in charge. The women are already used to that. Their end game is to change things, not get credit for who is important.
The other thing that impresses me is that most of these women don’t care much about the “women in leadership” thing. They are not ideologues. They have no doubt they would do a better job than what is being done. But it is the doing of the job that fills the field of vision.
Obviously, this is stereotypical and the readers should not draw unwarranted conclusions about what I believe from these observations – as in, all men are Homer Simpson neanderthals and all women are Linda Carter Superwomen. But as I look back over my years in ministry, one of my memories is the incredible number of strong women I have met in ministry. And, unfortunately, the incredible number of weak men.
And you are right – I have used the word “incredible” an incredible number of times in this post.