moving towards advocacy

This past semester I learned a lot about cross-cultural leadership, and I gained greater appreciation for the benefit and blessing of diversity in ministry and teams. Our experience in Mexico has confirmed that multi-“cultural” teams (culture = age, gender, nationality, stage-of-life, experience, etc) are the most fruitful, both in terms of ministry goals and for personal character and emotional/spiritual growth.

I believe that the prayer needed, grace extended, and ego submission necessary for unity greatly outweighs the misunderstandings and time challenges involved in these “mixed” teams.  I believe that God blesses our efforts to overcome “cultural” barriers and work together for His glory.

This is especially true in the gender area – maybe because unity in this area is such a personal challenge, especially for families and husbands and wives. My professor encouraged me to further study the many issues surrounding women in leadership… and, although I was hesitant at first, I learned a lot. I am grateful for his “push”.  I do not want to enter a theological or cultural “battleground”, but I do want to actively pursue willingness to hear from God in this area.

I am convinced that our perspective and treatment of women has huge ramifications for our personal relationships, our fruitfulness as a ministry, and our participation in the battle against violence and human trafficking.  The chart below is a summary of some of my study. I offer it as a resource for prayerful consideration of your personal or organizational view of women.

Please let me know what you think. I have the sense that I am just scratching the surface of all that God would have me learn and do in this area. I’d love to learn from you also.

Moving Towards Advocacy-2What does God say to you as you review this chart?

What steps can you take to move towards advocacy?

9 thoughts on “moving towards advocacy

  1. Terry, I am glad to hear that you’re learning and studying in this area and that God is teaching you a lot! I’m also glad that you’re intentionally asking for the input of others. As a fellow staff member and woman, here are my thoughts: the chart seems a little unfair, and it doesn’t begin offer an accurate depiction of the theological positions on the matter of gender. I guess I feel rather misunderstood and misrepresented here, and I’m sure many others on staff would agree with me. For example, I believe the Bible tells us that God made male and female different, and we each have unique, God-given roles. However, I wouldn’t clump that truth that together with words like “superiority” and “gives right or means to command or control others,” and I’m not sure how that connection is relevant to the phrase “woman created from man.” Why does your chart suggest that’s the case?

    Here are a few more questions: How does saying that God ordains specific roles to specific genders (listed under Authoritative) conflict with the belief that men and women are created equal (listed under Advocacy)? Why does your chart tie the idea of authority with things like a drive for position, superiority, control, and limiting women? Can the Biblical ideas of authority and love/respect operate together, or must they be at odds in our gender diversity?

    I don’t mean to involve myself in this kind of theological battleground either, but I can’t find my views of God’s design for men and women working together on your chart. I see that “Advocacy” is what you believe to be ideal, and there are great things listed there. I guess I feel that differing positions (including aspects of my own) have been made into a straw man.

    I appreciate your reading my long comment, Terry, and I wish you the best in your studies.


    • Hi Holly! What a treat to find your comment here! I am honored to know that you are reading my blog, thinking deeply about the ideas, and willing to interact over the content! That is very exciting for me.

      I don’t know that I will be able to answer all your questions/concerns in a comment section, but I will do my best, and then invite you to chat/talk further, if you’d like. 🙂

      First, let me say that I am sorry if you feel misunderstood or misrepresented, or that the chart is unfair and makes you feel like the “straw man”. My deepest desire is encourage women and men to know their God-given value and, from that foundation, find joy and fulfillment in their calling.

      Since we have never talked about these topics before, I am not sure of your personal views or perspective, but for now, I will address the questions you have written…

      The chart is a summary of my final class paper and as such, it does not contain all the background information – theologically or practically – that I resourced. Also real life does not fit in neat little rows and boxes. It is a work in progress, based on study and experience.

      The information in the boxes represents what is most often emphasized in those general categories of belief/teaching. For instance, someone with an “Authoritative” perspective of men/women, believes that their relationship is based on positional authority, emphasizing that woman was created from man, and man therefore has a Gid-given right to superior status and command of others. Women in this kind of relationship are tighly limited to specific roles and even domestic abuse can be excused as part of the man’s “right”. Although you may connect with words like roles and headship, I don’t think that you or “many others on staff” would actually be in this category.

      I do believe that “Advocacy” is a more ideal goal. This would include an emphasis on a partner relationship based on God’s creation of both men and women in His image, having equal value. In a marriage, that means that a husband and wife would both respect, love, and serve each other. Roles are flexible based on need, situation, and gifting.

      The issue of “God-given roles” is often the most problematic. My personal studies have not found any list in the Bible where God clearly states, “These are the men-only roles and these are the women-only roles”, nor is that division stated in the gift lists. For that reason, and many others, I believe that many of the role assignments taught today are culture and tradition-based, rather than Biblical. I have no problem with a husband and wife choosing particular roles that work well for them; I often disagree when those roles are mandated as God’s only way.

      I would love to talk more with you about this… so much clear communication can be lost in a post or comment. I’m sure I can learn more from you. Let me know!

      Thanks again for visiting and for your very thoughtful comment. Trusting God to guide you!


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