I was crying. Blubbering like a fat baby. We were sitting in his car in front of the Christian bookstore. Just one week prior he had asked me to marry him, and I had said “yes.” But now the reality of the fact that I had said “yes” to a seminary student who would not always be a seminary student but would someday become a pastor was starting to sink in.
“I’m going to have to paint a wall red. And wear a jumper. And I don’t own a single turtleneck. Am I supposed to own a turtleneck?”
He stared at me helplessly, “You don’t actually have to do any of those things. You know that don’t you?”
“I will! I will! I am going to be a pastor’s wife and pastor’s wives do things like that… Oh my word you are going to want me to lead women’s ministries.”
He shook his head, refrained from rolling his eyes, and he answered, “No you don’t have to lead women’s ministries if you don’t want to lead women’s ministries.”
I gulped back a sob, “Really? Are you sure? Because I thought that pretty much all pastor’s wives led women’s ministries at some point in time in our life… and, honey, I’m just not sure I could do that. Doesn’t it involve a lot of tea parties, and learning how to do flower arrangements, and probably painting the women’s bathroom mauve, or something, and I don’t like mauve. Do I have to like mauve?”
He reassured me that I did not have to like mauve. But lurking underneath my questions, hiding behind my tears was a deep seated fear (perhaps even dismissiveness) of the role of women’s ministries in the local church.
I didn’t want to be relegated to pointlessness. I didn’t want my ministry to be defined by my gender rather than other God-given skills. It appeared to me that the traditional women’s ministries would spend all their time and Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 (marvelous chapters though they are), and ignore the rest of the Bible while they puttered around fake flowers and gossip.
I was not speaking from experience. (I was part of a church with a remarkably robust, theologically sound women’s ministry. But I was aware of the fact that the vast majority of women’s ministries are not like that.) Was my role of helping my husband’s going to be boiled down into the Christmas tea parties and knitting circles? Because I couldn’t knit…
Since those tear-filled lamentations in the middle of a parking lot, I have experienced a wide variety of ministry and service. I’ve done so as a single woman, an engaged woman, a married woman, a married with a baby woman, and then are the two babies, three babies, four babies… you get the picture.
And in the course of this ministry I have encountered a wide variety of women. I met strong women, suffering women, tired women, lonely women… women. I met a lot of them. Some in a church foyer, some crying on my couch, some avoiding me in the sanctuary. Three years ago when I was handed the role of women’s ministry director (My husband volunteered me for the position, then told me later), I had reached the point where I realized that this was a vital, integral part of a healthy church family. No, I don’t believe that women’s ministry is the only way to minister to women in the church. But I do believe that neglecting the minds and hearts of Christian women is a gross misstep.
When we relegate women’s ministries to tea parties and flower arranging we are depriving the church of one of its most vital components. Women are necessary, and women are different from men. Women hold special gifts and abilities. Different does not mean “unequal,” different just means different. When the church is robbed of these differences, when every woman tries to act like a man, (or believes her gifts are only beneficial if they are used the same way a man uses his), when women stunt their own hearts by limiting their theology books those with pink covers and their Bible studies to only two chapters in the Word of God, we take the women of the church (who should be strong, polished cornerstones) and we handicap their true potential.
As John Piper said, “Wimpy theology makes for wimpy women.”
“…for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14
So, yes. I am now a Women’s Ministry Director. My fear has dissipated and my battle cry has begun. I believe firmly that women must be equipped with the Word of God. I believe that women must be chewing on solid, meaty portions of God’s truth. Women must be impacting their culture, their communities, their families, and every relationship with the unique talent that God has given them as women. Our female design makes us able to live out a beauty of the gospel in a creative, powerful way. And we must live that gospel, for our world is dying for a lack of brave femininity.