My Deepest Insecurity as an Educated, Talented Woman

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I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Christian studies. I worked hard for that degree. Both the working and the courses forever changed how I approached life and Christianity. Not for one second do I regret those four years I spent writing papers on the Incarnation and reading the early church fathers.

But I’m not ignorant. I’ll be the first to tell you that there is, basically, nothing I can do with that degree. Part of it is because you will never find “Christian studies” listed as a prerequisite degree to apply for a job. And most of it is that if that major is listed as an acceptable prerequisite, the job is probably off-limits to me — because I’m a woman.

I wasn’t fully egalitarian when I started my coursework, so I knew from the beginning that this degree was for kicks, giggles, and personal transformation.

Did I want to be a minister, people asked me. No, churches don’t hire female ministers.

Did I want to be a teacher, people asked me. No, churches and Christian schools don’t hire female Bible or theology teachers.

Did I want to do anything with the degree, they asked me. Well, yes, but how could I when I’ve got a vagina?

The truth was, I really did like the idea of teaching and preaching to an audience over the age of seven about academic, gender-neutral things that mattered. But I wasn’t going to set myself up for failure and heartache chasing an elusive career in a Christian culture that opposed my existence as a female leader and teacher.

And truth be told, I do love the opportunities I’ve had. I adore working with children. I will happily talk about marriage, childrearing, and relationships. Mentoring women about women’s issues, teaching children — those are not at all lesser things to me.

I don’t resent those opportunities.

But I do resent that those are the only opportunities I’ve had.

When I am at home, not blogging, not earning a paycheck, not calculating how my interests and gifts will pan out in the “real world,” I read books on theology and sociology. I sit cross-legged on my unmade bed and talk through my theological and spiritual thoughts. I listen to podcasts on culture and Christianity while washing dishes.

I am and have always been an academic nerd who lives for the intersection of culture, faith, and everyday life.

There’s a part of me that jumps at the idea of going back to school, becoming a pastor, becoming a chaplain, becoming a tenured professor who writes books and gets called up on the Liturgists because I might know something.

Then that part of me sits right back down with a thud and moves on happily with life in the opportunities that have always been given, approved, and supported.

Because I’m terrified.

I’m terrified of being responsible for knowing things, saying things, teaching things, and guiding souls.

Which sounds very wise and humble of me to say, and I am glad I am properly terrified of such huge responsibility, but I don’t have that fear in my “okayed” roles. I say things all the time on my blog without terror. I was happy to share my knowledge of the Old Testament exile during adult Sunday school hour when the pastor asked for questions or comments. I taught my heart out even when I didn’t quite know what I was doing. I enjoyed counseling, mentoring, and offering advice to the women, teenagers, pre-teens, and the occasional man who came into my life asking for it.

I’ve always imagined my adult successful self as an English high school teacher, a speaker, a writer, a counselor.

So what’s the difference, fearful heart? What’s the terror of transitioning from “speaker” to “preacher,” from “counselor” to “pastor,” from “teacher” to “professor”?

I think the difference is that I have support in the okayed roles, and opposition in the “men only” positions. Not that I mind the opposition, per se — but I’ve internalized the paranoia that a woman shouldn’t do X, regardless of her gifting.

I’ve internalized it so much that it feels presumptuous of me to even think of presenting myself as a teacher, pastor, or spiritual guide. Who would take me seriously? Who would honestly come hear a woman speak, who would sign up for a female professor’s class, who would attend a church with a woman on the pastoral staff?

Women are too emotional. Women are too biased. Women leaders have no truth to speak because they’re all liberals pushing a liberal agenda. Women can’t command presence. Women can’t earn respect. Women are easily deceived. Women are lacking something that makes them fundamentally unqualified for leadership — like, being a man.

These are all things I know aren’t true, but that I believe deeply enough that they limit me from considering any sort of career outside of the prescribed female roles.

I try to explain this to my husband, who grew up with women leaders and teachers in his Catholic parish, who is not a woman, who never heard that women can’t because they’re women. I try to explain how brokenhearted I am that the patriarchy lives inside me and limits me. I try to explain what it’s like to feel automatically disrespected and dismissed simply because of my gender.

I don’t know how to explain it.

I don’t even know if I fully understand how damaging those beliefs are to me, how debilitating it was to be the best at something and passed over because I was a girl.

My home church made this worse, in retrospect, because they genuinely recognized my gifts and provided ample opportunities for young people to practice leadership in the church. Well, for young men.

The male Bible college students, regardless of degree, all got a chance to preach a sermon in evening service.

The high school boys all got a chance to read the sermon passage during the morning service.

The young men got to teach the youth group lessons.

Honestly, not all of them were qualified or even good at what they did. That didn’t matter to the church. They supported them, they encouraged them, they gave them opportunities. And I think it’s absolutely beautiful that our church recognized how empowering it was to believe in them and what they could do. I am happy they had those opportunities.

I would have loved those opportunities, too. I would have loved being encouraged and supported in such a public, challenging way.

That’s all I’m saying.

Many people, including the pastors, went out of their way to thank me for the comments and questions I gave during Sunday school hour. Why didn’t that ever translate into a chance to lead youth group?

Everybody praised me up and down for my speaking skills. Why didn’t that lead to an opportunity to preach an evening sermon or at least read the Bible aloud?

Why didn’t it matter that I was equally or more gifted in certain areas than my male peers and that everybody knew it? Why were my comments during Sunday school a blessing but the idea of me reading the Bible aloud an abomination of the created order? Why were my leadership skills praised when I co-organized VBS but a cause for visceral anger when I asked to lead worship? Why was my singing able to minister when it was during special music but all of the sudden a disaster waiting to happen when the congregation was singing along with a woman directing the tune?

Why do I feel capable as a kindergarten teacher with no formal educational training but incapable of teaching a class on something for which I earned a degree? Why do I feel little fear at training as a counselor but terror at training for a pastoral ministry? Why am I okay writing a blog post about a spiritual issue but uncomfortable with “preaching” it on Sunday morning? Why do I feel somewhat qualified to raise impressionable children’s souls as a mother but disqualified to guide thinking adults in the faith as a Sunday school teacher?

I know the answer to this.

I’m a woman.

And that’s the terror I have of stepping into a teaching or pastoral position over adults — heck, over even teenage boys — not that I don’t have something to say, not that I wouldn’t be good at it, not that I would not be gifted and equipped and called, but, simply, that I am a woman.

I am terrified of my womanness and the havoc it could cause. I want to spare myself from that destruction. I want to spare others from that destruction.

I’ve been taught that regardless of how gifted you are, being a woman ruins it somehow.

As an educated, talented woman, that is my deepest insecurity.

Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

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48 thoughts on “My Deepest Insecurity as an Educated, Talented Woman

  1. Abigail

    Thank you for sharing so honestly about your struggles. I’m grieved that your formative experiences have affected you this way. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up like that, because even though I grew up in a technically complementarian church, I never found it oppressive. I would never discount the possibility that there were older women in the church who felt limited in ways that were invisible to me, but overall, women served as equals, were communally appreciated, and were publicly commended from the pulpit. Also, I loved seeing men in aprons on the fellowship committee — that’s irrelevant here, but emphasized in my mind that the pastorate was the only gender-specific ministry at church.

    What I regret is using my experience to make allowances for oppressive conservatism. Essentially, my stance was, “Well, I’ve read plenty of articles decrying churches like mine for being oppressive and evil, and they’re obviously not, so why should I assume that someone else’s church is? I have no right to say from outside that someone else’s tradition isn’t acceptable just because I don’t like it.” I spent so much time reading what I called “homeschool extremist” blog posts and getting angry over what they said, but I never felt like I could stand up and say, “This is wrong and abusive and hurts the people who are promoting it.” Now, I wish I had, because I see what damage these tyrannical belief systems have on people and can no longer justify such beliefs as a personal choice that I have to make allowances for and tolerate.

    Like

    • Bailey Steger

      I so appreciate you’re ability to recognize both your own experience and others’, even when they differ. It’s so hard to remain in the tension of speaking out about abuses within your own sphere, whatever that is. I too witnessed abuse within, say, the homeschool sphere, but because everything is so “either my experience is right or yours” and so polarized, it was hard for me to speak out clearly about those abuses while still supporting homeschooling as a good thing when done right.

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    • Shantil Randolph

      I love your openness and vulnerability in sharing yourself! I have no doubt that your knowledge and faith could and does inspire many people, as well as deepen their understanding of the Bible and that of Christianity.

      As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, women are able to share their testimonies of faith and personal experience and knowledge with any and all ages.

      I have led huge choirs in singing, shared my love of God through signing solos or playing my own arrangements at church, taught scripture classes to men and women, and currently am preparing for my st year as Girls’Camp Director.

      God wants and needs so much for you to share what you have. Maybe you just need to find your voice in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which we believe in all sincerity, is the restored Gospel as Jesus taught while He was I’m the earth: rich in the blessings of a living Prophet, apostles, Priesthood Power, and authority to continue God’s work for winding up scenes before the return of the Savior as promised.

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  2. David

    Aw, kiddo. Go get a hug from someone, post haste! It doesn’t solve the feelings at hand, but it *is* a pleasant distraction. :)

    And if I can offer a silver lining for this particular cloud, I would say that you’re actually making *progress* — ’cause unless I’m very much mistaken, you just described yourself as talented. You’re right, of course, that you ARE — but Past Bailey would’ve aw-shucks’d her way out of saying so. :)

    … though I bet Present Bailey felt uncomfortable while she was writing this article. But I’m glad you could power through, because it’s hard to figure out what to *do* with your gifts until you can accept that you really do have ’em.

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    • Bailey Steger

      NOOOO! Now I have to consciously deal with publicly labelling myself “talented.” ;) I guess I don’t mean it as like particularly gifted, as in, “these are the things I’m good at compared to other people,” just that “these are the things that I am good at compared to other things.” Because we all are talented at some things, and you’re right — we have to recognize those things if we’re to use them.

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  3. heather

    Sue Monk Kidd wrote a book called Dance of the Dissent Daughter about her struggle with this issue.
    Churches can change. I remember being furious when my mother was telling me about their church voting on whether a woman could be on their board in 2008. I couldn’t believe they actually had to debate the worth of women. This year that church hired a female lead pastor.
    Let yourself change too.

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  4. Laura Jinkins

    I have a few questions:

    Do you feel CALLED to serve in ministry? By God?

    Do you want to share God’s Word with all people, or are you fixated on His Word as it relates to women only?

    If you feel God calling you, then go for it regardless of what men (and women) have to say. You’ll answer to God in the end, and ignoring His call would be a sad thing indeed.

    If you just enjoy debating the scriptures and how they apply to and affect women, then I don’t think pursuing a role in ministry would be a good thing, since you’d be doing it for your own enjoyment, rather than for God.

    I hope you find your calling/answer. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey Steger

      Why do you think I fixate only on the scriptures involving women or that I debate them for enjoyment??

      You’re absolutely right that it’s about calling. I’m talking about the process and the roadblocks to even being able to consider where I’m called — secular, layman, or clergy.

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      • Laura Jinkins

        I may have overlooked it, but I don’t ever remember you writing about being called. Just about the things that stand in your way to preaching, teaching, etc. if you are truly called, then you must persist and trust God to make a way for you to live out your calling. I am reminded of Gladys Aylward, who felt called to the Chinese mission field, but was rejected by men. She knew God wanted her there and she persisted. If you are called, do not take “no” for an answer. Do not bind yourself to a denomination that prevents you from answering God’s call on your life.

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      • Adam Macgregor

        @Laura
        Your comment detects that you don’t believe in any one truth of a single denomination. I would urge you sister to turn from this path, for it is not the way of the disciples. Such thought is very close to relativism, which leads to materialism. May the blessings of the Father, the Cross of the Son and the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit give you the strength to see the goodness of God and to find truth in his Church.

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  5. maygrrl

    Hi Bailey,
    Just wanted to say “me too.” Sounds like our backgrounds were similar, and I am also an “educated talented woman.” I am walking defiantly in ministry railroading anything that tells me “no because you are a female.” But in my quieter moments, when I am really honest with myself, I wonder, “Oh my God, what if they are all right. What if I am harming EVERYONE by insisting on my space and using my voice and being (gasp) unsubmissive to the system that shushes me?”

    Thanks for being open about your process too. It’s good to not feel alone. Also, let me leave you a little gift too. Have you ever heard Kyndall Rae Rotheus speak? Here’s a favorite (bring tissues). It’s deeply healing and beautiful. https://mediaspace.hsutx.edu/media/150220+Women+In+Ministry+-+General+Session+2+-+Rev.+Kyndall+Rothaus/0_hjbet7aj/28241222

    Like

    • Bailey Steger

      Good to know I’m alone. It’s inspiring to hear both your bravery in pushing back against an oppressive system and your honesty about the challenges. I have not heard of Kyndall Rae Rotheus! I’ll look her up, thanks.

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  6. gemmaem

    I identify with so much of this. I study mathematics, and I love it, but I’ve had people push me towards teaching as a career, because it’s feminine, and push me away from things like computing or mathematics research, because those things are viewed as more masculine.

    I like teaching, but I don’t want to end up doing it just because it’s the path of least resistance, the path where people accept automatically that I know what I’m doing and treat me like I’m capable. It’s so much easier to feel confident in what you do when the people around you treat you like you are capable of doing it.

    It gets even weirder when you move from place to place and people have different ideas about what the “girl stuff” is. Where I am at the moment, applied mathematics is sometimes viewed as “girlier” than pure mathematics. But there are countries where that is reversed, where pure mathematics is the less useful arty field that women can do while they leave the important, practical work to the men. Wherever you are, the masculine stuff — whatever it is — will usually be the more prestigious thing. That seems to be the only constant.

    Sometimes I look at this picture and I wonder if I should just wish for a nice, girly, deprecated job in exactly what I want to do. If I get to do something I like and be treated like I’m capable of it, do I really need the prestige on top of that?

    I do know this: it’s not fair that whatever the “girl stuff” is, it’s considered to be worth less. And it’s not fair that people mark out lines that women cannot step beyond without stepping into a vast field of doubt: doubt that they are capable, and doubt that they could ever be treated as capable.

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    • Bailey Steger

      YES. I’m not familiar on a firsthand basis with the challenges women face in STEM, but the same lines and doubt seem to be there for all women in whatever traditionally masculine field they find themselves in.

      For me, the question isn’t as much about prestige as of impact: if I’m not taken seriously enough in this “masculine” role, am I going to have as much impact as I would if I just stuck with traditionally feminine roles??

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  7. dolphinswithmohawks

    Not sure where you got the idea that there were no female ministers. There are quite a few out there. Still pale in comparison to numbers of men, obviously, but they are there. I follow one such, on wordpress. Look up emilycheath.com. Sharp, nice lady.

    Many religions were started and pushed by men. In some cases, they have refused to evolve, maintaining a framework of men at the top, with power and privilege, and women as subservient. As agnostic and sometimes atheist, my view from the outside is that this is less about being true to God, and more about power and privilege.
    If you want to do something with your degree, you may have to start looking for other churches or other avenues. The end doesn’t have to be a minister in a church, necessarily. Counseling or ministering to people one on one, or in hospitals, clinics, therapists offices, day care, AA or any other periodic group meeting, etc, etc. Start small somewhere and see how things go.

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    • Bailey Steger

      That’s the route I’m pursuing right now — starting small, finding a community where women leaders are embraced, seeing what happens there.

      Of course I knew there were female ministers….in all the heretical liberal denominations. ;) In my circle, there was no such thing as a legitimate female minister in an “actually Christian” denomination. Obviously I didn’t get out much theologically back then. :)

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  8. Lea

    I grew up thinking women weren’t pastors or deacons, but had very few other limitations. So that things have shifted so far has shocked me. And i have shifted majorly in the other direction, to a church where women are allowed and encouraged at all levels of leadership including preaching. And it is AMAZING. Not that the church is perfect, but it is so calming and lovely to know that this is not even a question. To the point where I cannot imagine going back, ever, to this kind of restricted choice or voice. And i never had any interest in leading a church or teaching.

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    • Bailey Steger

      That’s fascinating! I have yet to find a church with female leaders. That would be an interesting dynamic, and I love how much it impacted you even though you had no desire to be up there with them.

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  9. Mrs. Nix

    You are my people, Bailey. I could’ve written this myself, and I could not drag myself out of your article because I kept saying, “She is Me!” I don’t have a degree in Christian Studies. I have a degree in history and I graduated summa, too. I’m an unapologetic nerd. I am good at what I do. I have a gift for explaining difficult and complex ideas. I was never any good at anything else, but I can study, learn, write, and interpret like nobody’s business. It’s the only game I can play at all well, but God gave me this one thing, and it is good.

    I am terrified to write about the Bible.

    I am terrified to pursue an MDiv in biblical studies. I am terrified to show anyone the study I’m writing on Leviticus, even though it’s good, and even though I know it isn’t theologically dangerous or incorrect. I’m terrified to even tell anyone I’m writing a study. I’m terrified to show people at church that I’m writing a blog about the Bible. I’m terrified to show it to my own father and brother. I’m pursuing some contacts through fellow Bible nerds to get into a mentor relationship with an OT scholar and I haven’t told anyone (except you, now). I am so excited about the prospect of working with a man who is frankly a giant in the world of academic Hebrew and Semitic studies…but I can’t tell anybody. Because I’m afraid.

    I’m afraid because I don’t know what I will do or how I will ever recover from it what that first time finally comes and someone I admire and respect says, “Amy, God doesn’t allow women to do that.” It’s coming. I know that it’s coming. I also know that the only reason it hasn’t happened yet is that I haven’t told anyone. I haven’t allowed anyone to steal it from me, yet. I know that when I open up and tell people, that first time will come, and when it does, I have to be equipped to handle it with bravery and courage. I swear the words “be strong and courageous” appear in the Old Testament so often that I sometimes think they were put there specifically for me!

    But here’s the thing. I’m doing this–writing about the Bible and pursuing education about the Bible–because God is MAKING me do it. I have no other way to say it. I suspect from what I’ve read of you in this blog over the last month that God is making you do it, too. Ignore the people. Listen intently to God. Obey him, not them.

    Be strong and courageous.

    I talked about all of this at length with my husband when I was having one of my terrified nights. I’d just written more than 5,000 words in one sitting about a chapter in Judges, and it felt SO good. I’d been pushed to write it, and the time went by in a haze as I furiously poured myself out into the study. I was interpreting deeply complex context through my own words in the hope that other people could receive my joy and this Scripture in an accessible way. But I only got to feel good for five minutes at the most. Five minutes is actually generous because the fear hit me as fast as the joy did, and it hit hard.

    The terror came. I’m a woman. I don’t have a doctorate in theology. I haven’t been a believer long enough. I’m a WOMAN. I’m not allowed. I’m not qualified. I can’t. Someone will yell at me for posting this in public. I’m a girl.

    It always changes to “girl” at the end, doesn’t it? No girls allowed.

    My husband listened as I just spilled all of that nervous energy and fear into his lap. He said, “All of that bad stuff? That’s over there. You are here. Don’t worry about what’s over there. Over there doesn’t matter. God is here. All you have to do is worry about what’s right here.”

    Bailey, don’t you worry about what they say over there. You do what God tells you to do right here where you are. He made you a woman and then he called you to teach. No earthly authority trumps the Holy Spirit, amen? You do you, and don’t worry about what’s over there. God is with you here, and his opinion is the only one that matters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey Steger

      Wow. I am so overwhelmed with excitement for you at what you’re doing and all the palpable fear you must be experiencing and all the opportunities that are opening up for you. It is so so good to meet a fellow female history/Bible nerd doing serious academic work on it. It’s women like you who might eventually inspire the fear out of me. Thank you. :)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy Hastelow

      Mrs Nix, your shared experience reminds me of Paul saying he was _compelled_ to preach, even when others found him less the powerful in person. I, too, have experienced some of this compelling from the Holy Spirit, I’m trying to lean into it and ignore the world’s insidious whisper of “who are you to be doing this?” Thank you for sharing here. Keep going! We’re cheering you on! (and trying to do our own alongside)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jasmine Ruigrok

    Can I just say I’m so grateful you have the freedom to blog? Celebrate even that; you’re writing strong opinions and putting them out there for the world—men and women alike! That’s a start. Let’s not despise small beginnings! (Plus, I’m completely selfish in that sentiment because I just love to read what you write, so take that or leave it. You’ve got a supporter in me)

    I think you’ll get your chance, Bailey. Not all churches are that way. Actually, I sometimes attend a baptist church that has a woman as an elder and women have the opportunity to preach sermons, so not all institutions are the same. I so get the mindset being something that trips you up, but I also believe that once you find yourself in an environment that fosters women and empowers them and champions their voice as something worth hearing, you’ll find a lot of healing. Don’t be afraid to hope for a chance! You have something precious and valuable to give. God’s not going to waste it!! And I’ll be cheering for you when you take the stage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey Steger

      Thanks, Jasmine!! I think you’re right, that an empowering community can do a lot to clarify and encourage my calling in a way that looks all muddy and fearful now. That’s so awesome that you’ve seen female preachers in a BAPTIST church, of all places!

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  11. Mike Stearns

    Honestly, what you’ve gone through seems incredibly bizarre in the 21st century even from the perspective of someone who’s not a modernist. Then again, it’s what’s to be expected from an organization like Vision Forum. It pressures your sensitivities to convince you that something is the truth despite how it’s not.

    In any case, if you really are talented at handling language, then you know what the answer is to deal with that pressure and not be terrified – turn people’s words upon themselves. When people say women are emotional, remind them of how men can be hotheaded and how the fairer sex is expected to be calm, cool, and collected. When people say women can cause havoc, remind them of how men can create violent conflict and women are expected to meditate by talking things out and being supportive. When people say women are deceived, remind them of how women can be openminded to seeing all the possibilities instead of being directed towards a specific linear suggestion.

    I know this is common sense to you. It’s just a friendly reminder. Sometimes, it helps to have someone bring us back down to Earth when it feels like our thoughts are caught up in a tailspin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey Steger

      Isn’t it bizarre?! It’s good to remember that, actually, that the fear and the things driving the fear shouldn’t be and often are not the dominant narrative in all places.

      I appreciate your friendly reminder. You’re right…the tailspin makes me forget how insane and contradictory the negative voices can be.

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  12. Rebekah

    This saddens me that you were denied those opportunities. Even in my church where women aren’t allowed to teach as a pastor, older girls still lead youth group sometimes, and have read Bible passages during a sermon-type situation.

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    • Bailey Steger

      Yeah, it’s truly bizarre. I understand how scripture can be interpreted to bar women from elder/pastor, but I fail to see where the justification is for preventing women from reading the Bible aloud or leading the congregation in singing! And I do recognize that while common in my tradition, many complementarian churches aren’t at all this restricting.

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  13. happyfree

    Interesting – the internalizing – getting past the belief system embedded within – is challenging. Though I am not in Ministry, my secular work is my ministry and I having been confronted with the bias/prejudice towards women in a male dominated industry, I find it difficult to present and take ‘authority’. It’s a pioneer’s role still to some degree – I pray quite a bit for direction.

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  14. Allison

    I could have written this post, except I don’t have a degree. I am, however, a total history/theology nerd who used to cooled worship. I was not allowed to be the worship leader because I was not male. Boy, did I feel the heat when I asked if I could start leading on my own some Sundays (and this was at the suggestion of recording artists and mentors who saw me being very successful in the Christian music industry). The last church we went to was reformed Baptist and incredibly misogynistic. I was far better at theology than my pastor or any of the elders, and it was obvious to everyone. Because of this and my inability to fit into the Betty Crocker sized gender role shoebox they wanted me in, I was the target of such vicious hatred it is hard to imagine! I ended up with PTSD, and haven’t been back in a church since. I have major troubles even trying trying to read the Bible. I even bought a story form Bible in a version my old church wold have found heretical, and, I’m too scared to start reading it! I even shuddered at a picture of worship service the other day. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be able to go to church again as it seems most of the churches in my area are complentarian. I used to love church and all of that, and now due to technical nastiness I’ve encountered I’m not sure I could handle anymore of it.

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    • Bailey Steger

      Oh, my gosh. All of this is monstrously unjust. I wish these “defenders of the faith” would see how much their silly and arbitrary rules causes major damage to women like you. Seriously — what tangible horror will occur if you as a woman stepped to the middle microphone or sang the same lyrics alone without a team? NOTHING. I tried to point that out to my church, that my college church was greatly blessed by my worship leading and no hellfire rained down there, so what horrible thing did they think would happen if a woman did the same thing on their soil? It is so, so petty — but so incredibly damaging to women.

      I had to go through my own journey to set foot inside church again, hear worship music, and read the Bible without my insides wanting to crawl out, so I sincerely wish you all the best as you navigate the trauma you experienced. :( You sound like an incredibly successful musician and thinker. I hope you find a space for you to be fully you — and soon!

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  15. RAJ

    I feel you on a lot of this too. When I first mentioned to my dad that I was applying for seminary he responded by saying you’re not going to seminary! Which still to this day befuddles me since he has always been positive of all my dreams and desires, including me being a woman in a stem field.i also had a family friend who is a pastor from another church tell me not to go because I would lose my faith. (Honestly I got more positive responses from non Christians and nnonevangelicals, who nearly all wanted to know if I was going to be a priest and apologized for swearing in front of me. Answers: no and I don’t care say what you want.)

    My complimentarian church growing up only had male pastors and male leaders (except for ministries related to children or food…) Even male ushers. But it was kind of an unspoken thing too. Now I go to Anglican or Episcopal Church es, mostly because I like the liturgy, but also because they celebrate all female contributions. Oh and I went to seminary, graduated with an MA in religion this year and no I didn’t lose my faith. Without it I’m not sure I would have completely recovered from a ’bout’ of atheism I had some time before that. No regrets!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey Steger

      Wow! What bizarre responses from your friends and family. I’m so glad you didn’t listen to the naysayers and got into a program that challenged you academically and spiritually. That’s awesome. :)

      Like

  16. Chaplapreneur

    It is a great post. God has a place for you leading someone. He knew He made you a woman and didn’t make a mistake. I try to learn from women preachers because men have dominated the speaking and preaching realm of Christianity for theological reasons that are debatable matters. Consequently, young male pastors do well at focusing on the text, voice inflection, with an authoritative and highly analytical type of style. Women on the other hand: like Beth Moore have powerful eye-contact. Joyce Meyer relates through struggles of trying to be a woman of faith. The Kingdom of God is meant to function with the people of God using what they are gifted and called to do.
    As a workplace chaplain I am paired with female chaplains who connect with people who don’t relate well to me, and vice versa. Everyone has something to overcome but don’t let theology be a stumbling block wrestle through that until you know you were made for it. Your contribution to the Kingdom is valued and seen by Jesus. Here is a link to the first part of a three part blog on my site dealing with women in ministry and Ephesus.
    https://chaplapreneur.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/is-the-bible-sexist-women-in-ministry-part-1/

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    • Bailey Steger

      Thank you! Those are interesting observations you’ve made about the differences between men and women ministers. I’ve always been blessed by both male and female teachers in the secular world or my personal life, so I hope the pastoral world catches on to that blessing too!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Modderbek

    Wow. While I’m not fully egalitarian per se, I find myself nodding to so much you’ve said in this post. I’ve been battling with the role of women in the Church and am not sure we’ll get an absolute answer to this during this lifetime. So in my thought process I want to stand to be corrected and directed to what Christ really intended the Church to be like. Because I believe there is a balance, somewhere.
    So the question is, where do you draw the line? When it comes to teaching, what is the difference between standing in front of 100 people and writing a blog post or a book that millions can read? How is it that words and teaching lose value only because they come out of a woman’s mouth? On certain issues, it seems like extreme measures (not allowed to read scripture in front of the congregation seems pretty extreme) are taken to avoid…I don’t know, the other party from taking over, but in Church, how is choosing to oppress the other even an option? Hasn’t history proven that this strategy usually creates more problems? Ugh….

    All this to say, thank you for sharing.

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  18. anaramirez5623

    Hi-
    I enjoyed reading your post…and why can’t you be a Pastor? I go to a church where the Pastors are husband and wife…. they are both lead pastors of the church. I’m sure God will lead you to a church where you will be encouraged to do so. Remember, though, we all have gifts and talents but they mean nothing unless we have love in our hearts and faith in Gods timing. If you ever feel reassurance read a poem from Roy Lessin called Continue On… I’m not sure if you are familiar with it but it really helped me.

    You will find your calling in Gods timing…

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    • Bailey Steger

      Thank you for your encouragement! That’s awesome that you belong to a church that supports women in leadership. Many Christian churches and denominations prohibit women from leading and/or being pastors, so there have been significantly fewer options for me. I’d have to change denominations to feel fully welcomed as a female church leader.

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  19. katefonte

    The world is changing even so there are still some aspects that are left behind. Women empowerment in church? It is frustrating right? I am just glad that in my church worship leaders are mostly women, women can be ministry heads and be deacons. Occasionally, we do have female preacher on the pulpit.

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  20. Bailey Steger

    Hi Adam,

    Apology accepted. Thank you for clarifying. All of these issues you bring up are extremely complicated, involving both a thorough understanding of theology and theological differences as well as people’s individual hearts and reasons for why they believe what they believe. Though you may very well be correcting people in genuine love, I don’t permit others to come onto my blog to “admonish,” “correct,” or tell me or my commenters that they are deluded by the devil. I don’t want as a part of my online community people who are here to correct others on a divine mandate. This blog is a safe place to share personal opinions and disagree without being labelled heretical or deluded by Satan.

    To clarify: You are welcome to share your general thoughts about what you believe, but you may not personally single out my commenters and call them deluded by the devil or question their spirituality or admonish them in any way as if you only know the full truth and can judge hearts and discern all nuances of theology, spirituality, and history. Do you understand the difference? I have no problem with somebody stating their opinion of an issue; I have a huge problem with somebody stating their opinion on the state of another person’s soul.

    Much of what you stated was factually incorrect (Baptists do believe in sacraments, for instance), equivocation of terms (you’re misunderstanding what Anglicans mean by “catholic”), or merely opinion that ignores the thoughtful conversations Christians have been having about our differences for millennia, so I suggest you take some time to check your sources and listen to others instead of randomly interrupting blogs and pronouncing delusion and admonition upon readers. I understand your sincerity and your desire to bring about a fruitful conversation. Part of the responsibility of starting such a conversation is understanding what others believe and not just what you believe about their beliefs.

    If you can comment here with a willingness to listen and learn and merely share what you believe to be true, then you are welcome. If you continue to dogmatically correct my readers, I will have to ask you to start your conversations elsewhere.

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