Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What Do Women Bring to the Pastorate?

I will admit up front that I am treading on dangerous ground here. I fear that I will fall into stereotypical assessments of the qualities that a woman might bring to the pastoral task, but I welcome being challenged on these observations.

What particular strengths might a woman bring to the pastoral ministry? First, I certainly think that she would be more concerned and, perhaps more importantly, sensitive to relationships than many men are. From a male perspective, we often fail to detect the signals that someone is hurting, puzzled, or just plain angry.

Second, I think that most women ministers would be more concerned about aesthetics than the majority of men in the ministry. We tend to be interested in the content rather than the context. Male ministers are concerned about the task and reaching the goal, while females in the ministry are more concerned about presentation--"How will this be perceived? Will it be acceptable?"

Third, because women have so often been placed in roles where they are powerless, I believe that a woman minister will have a different approach to both authority and leadership than a male minister does. My guess is that the woman's approach to leadership will be rooted more in community than in position. This certainly fits the postmodern context in which we do ministry today.

Fourth, I think that women will have a healthier balance between public ministry and private life. Because of their concern for relationships and community (see above), I have found women in ministry to more concerned about self-care and private time, whether that is family, friends, or leisure activities.

Am I missing the boat here? What do you think?


Joel Emerson said...


As someone who is an ordained male in ministry married to an ordained female in ministry, I can second much of what you say from personal experience. While I share your concerns about stereotypes and generalizations, I have found much of what you have said as it relates to my wife and I to be true.

Especially in the area of personal health...spiritual, physical, etc. Ann has always been light years ahead of me in her ability to prioritize those tasks in life and ministry that keep her healthy and able to function at a high level. She is a classic "quadrant II" person (See Covey) and I have always both admired and been jealous of that trait in her.

Keep posting...I am enjoying your thoughts and thoughtfulness.

Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

Change is often slow in coming, but there are signs that women are under consideration for more leadership positions. You can look to the Baptist Women in Ministry report and get an idea regarding the number of ordained women in Baptist life. Offering conferences like the one held by TNCBF should offer a forum for encouragement and networking.

The one area I believe moderate pastors (male or female) should improve upon is preaching. Fundamentalist churches seem to have stronger preachers in presentation and personality. While other ministry areas are important, the preaching moment offers the greatest opportunity to help the most people at one time. We must not lose the "thus saith the Lord" attitude as we stand before God's people.

Anonymous said...

Let me know when you have the conference again.
what was the line up for the past conference?