No Girls Allowed. Have you ever seen that sign? You probably won't see it anymore since everything has become a litigation frenzy, but it's still out there.
Sometimes the roadblocks for a woman called to minister in the Kingdom of God can be difficult, and often times, overwhelming. Difficult to establish any credibility when your not given any opportunity. Overwhelming, when you just get tired of the whole battle.
25 years ago, my husband had been involved with a hockey outreach ministry for a number of years before we met and married. He'd go on trips to isolated Native communities in Ontario, Canada and forge relationships with the people there using the sport of Hockey as a common interest. An outreach was planned by this ministry soon after we were married and it's preparation begun. Both of us wanted me to be involved with the outreach, so we approached the leader with our interest. His response was that I could go and participate as a cook, but not as a member of the team of ministry. He reminded me that serving in the kitchen was truly ministry and not to see it differently. I wondered why, if it was so great a ministry, I didn't see any men on the kitchen and cleanup team!
His response sparked some candid rebuttal on my part. I finally persuaded him that I would help in the "ministry" of cooking and clean up, but I would also like to be a part of the outreach ministry with the Native people whenever I could get out of the kitchen. He never endorsed me for any of that, but did allow me to go on the trip. And I did do my kitchen duty to submit to his leadership. The other women involved all stayed in the kitchen the entire time. I alone escaped that confinement and joined with the guys in ministry. I found a ripe and ready field to minister in outside of the kitchen and that was exciting and fruitful! That for me, was real ministry.
A friend of mine, John White (LK10.com) speaks often about our design. Those things that make us unique and designed for a purpose. We can look backward in our lives and see how that unique design was apparent even as children. A design with a purpose in the Mind of the Creator.
I grew up playing with the guys. There were only a couple girls in the neighborhood and I found I liked playing with the boys better. I'd organize the building of forts, tree houses, crayfish catching, exploration adventures and salamander hunts. Jimmy A was my best friend for years. Together we'd plan and organize teams for capture the flag, army, cowboys and Indians, baseball, dodge ball, flag football, tag and whatever game we had interest in and gear for. But I wasn't a "Tom Boy". I loved being a girl and dressing up to look pretty. Sometimes I'd play house with my baby dolls, build cities for my barbies, leap around the house in a tutu or in flowing Arabian scarves as a princess of the Far East. I liked being a girl, but I felt totally comfortable as a girl in the world of boys and that made up the majority of my friendships and camaraderie.
There are those who would say that my design, and God unfolding that throughout my life, needs to fit into a certain box of acceptable ministry venues as it relates to the Kingdom. I don't always hear those words, although I have had many such exchanges. But I certainly feel the affect of those beliefs.
Many years ago, one leader I was submitted under, pulled me aside one day and asked me to withdraw from the church planting training my husband and I had enrolled in. He said that since I was the one gifted in leadership on the team of my husband and I, and not my husband, we would not be able to continue in the training program. A woman could not be the primary church planter because she could not be in a leadership position that was "over" men. I asked him; "what do you do with Deborah in the scriptures? She was in leadership "over" men, and was supported by her husband and Barak, the head of the army of Isreal?" He responded with; "Deborah was an exception." I responded with; "how do you know I am not an exception?"
(I won't go into this persons' lack of understanding of what true Kingdom leadership is. He clearly sees it as a top down position. I'll save that discussion for another blog post.)
So did God make a mistake in creating me uniquely designed? Has my creation in my mother's womb and then reflected throughout my life experience gone amuck? Why has He made me comfortable in circles of men with similar gifts and calling and yet bar the door to entrance?
I used to ask myself these questions a lot and finally had to concede that God doesn't make mistakes. He is not a sadist. The error must be human.
In the book of Genesis, God says we are intentionally and uniquely created in the Imago Dei (the image of God), both male and female. We are created for a purpose. We are created to bear fruit and to honor Christ. Our living out that created unique design is an act of worship. It is obedience.
Can we please take down;" No Girls Allowed," and encourage us all (male and female) to walk in obedience and in the fullness of our unique design for His purposes and Kingdom?