Women, Diversity and Ministry (Guest Writer Rev. Kim Moran)
If you've ever played Chess, you're very aware about the power of the Queen. Stronger than the rest, the queen can do just about anything on a board. She is the most important, active piece on the board. Yet, chess is over when the less-able-or-talented King is checked.
In many respects, gender and ministry look like this. Many female leaders must work harder to be noticed and recognized for their leadership potential and yet may get passed over for a "king" who may not be as qualified. Whether it is a kids pastor simply believing they can do more than what is asked of them, a former bible college graduate who has stood alongside their spouse while he 'lived the dream' or a current minister looking at an invisible ceiling, the chess match seems all but fixed.
And so I want to invite you to read some posts from the vantage point of some "queens on the board" so we can have some onsite on their story, their struggle and their solutions.
My first guest is Rev. Kim Moran. I've known Kim for a number of years and have been able to watch her calling and career skyrocket since graduating from Summit Pacific Bible College years ago (where she is now on staff as campus pastor and adjunct faculty after a number of years of pastoring in Eastern Canada with her husband Clark). Kim is a good friend of mine whom I've known since our days at Cobourg Camp and a great person to start this conversation off.
Since I was a pre-teen I wanted to be a pastor. I loved Jesus with everything within me, and I desperately wanted to see people know and love Him more. I was smart, passionate, driven, and knew without a doubt in my mind that I was called. There was nothing that could convince me otherwise.
It wasn’t until I was in Bible College that I first heard someone say that it was unbiblical for women to be in leadership over a man. I heard rumors that some people believed that women couldn’t pastor, and I remember one professor even commenting that they would be uncomfortable if their lead pastor was a female. But somehow I still believed with certainty that God was calling me to lead in the church. I knew I was called to pastor, and I knew I was called to preach.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been so naïve. Following graduation, I really was surprised to learn that pastors only wanted to interview my husband and not me. When I was finally interviewed, I was asked more about my role in my husband’s ministry, future children and where I could work, when all I wanted to talk about was ministry philosophy, leadership development and how to see young people come to know Jesus.
I eventually found myself in a full time ministry position where I agreed to work for free until the church could afford to pay me. I poured my heart into the youth of the community and we literally saw hundreds of students come to know Jesus. But while I was seeing everything I dreamed of unfold in our youth ministry, I was becoming angry, jealous, and resentful.
Whether it was being introduced as the pastor’s wife, listening to others praise my husband for the success of our youth ministry, or being left out of ministry planning meetings, it was clear that many people didn’t take me seriously as a female pastor.
I wanted to quit a lot. I knew I could likely get a job outside the church where I would be more respected, and certainly better paid, but that deep sense of calling that I had held onto since Jr. high never went away. I knew I was called to pastor and anything else would have meant blatant disobedience.
I could tell story after story of the pain and disappointment I experienced because of lack of recognition, but those stories pale in comparison to the lives of the people that God used me to influence, despite my sometimes selfish and entitled attitude. It certainly wasn’t because of my position, paycheck or recognition that people came to know the redeeming power of Jesus while I was their pastor.
I’m all about progressive leadership and strategic plans, but they aren’t the answer to the problems and obstacles we face as a fellowship. Maybe they’ll help, but they’re not the answer. We need pastors and leaders who are willing to lay aside everything to see the message of the gospel advance. That might mean opening your mind to the idea of women in ministry, but it also might mean willing to work for free so that people can come to know Jesus. We need people who are willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of the recognition.
I’m not perfect, but I like to think I’m learning. I’m learning to trust that God really does come through on the things He promises. I’m learning that ministry really isn’t about me; and I’m learning that change doesn’t often come when you’re fighting for it, but when you’re living in a way that makes it seem like the only obvious option.
I really do believe with all my heart that diversity and equality are necessary if we want to see the church effectively reach the world, and while there are days I want to scream it from the rooftops, instead I choose to live it out. I refuse to quit; I refuse to take out another person who is trying to live out their call; and I do my best every day to listen to the Holy Spirit.
Maybe that’s how we’ll see a change. Maybe it will be one life at a time, choosing to live out their call for the one who called them.