Every once in a while, I see the old church leadership debate about men and women flare up on Twitter or other social media platforms. As with so many social, cultural, and church issues, there are passionate proponents on each side. You have those who say that church leadership roles, most especially the roles of church elder and preacher are reserved exclusively for men. On the other side are those who say that women are equally as gifted and called into these and any other position.
Let me be abundantly clear from the beginning. I am not arguing for either side in this blog post. This is not an attempt to add one more voice into the cacophony of voices trying to convince the other side they are correct. No, this blog post has nothing to do with women in ministry leadership.
Instead, today I am writing to men. Too many men are willing to sit back and let someone, anyone, whether male or female, do the hard work of spiritual leadership. Here is some hard truth guys. Whether your church affirms women in leadership or not, you as a man are called to help carry the burden of spiritual leadership.
Whether your church affirms women in leadership or not, you as a man are called to help carry the burden of spiritual leadership.
First, we need to get on board with the reality of spiritual leadership. Leadership in the church is not a privilege. It does not afford you rank or prestige. Leadership in the pattern and image of Jesus Christ requires us to stoop low and carry the cross. We are called to lay down our pride, our rank, our privilege on behalf of others. We are meant to bear the cognitive load of decision making and the spiritual load of being answerable to Good Shepherd for the state of His flock. Consider what we learn from Mark 10.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:35-45 English Standard Version Emphasis added
Leadership in the image of Jesus is a dirty job. Yet how often are content to sit back and let others carry this load? Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, we sit there twiddling our thumbs while our wives do spiritual battle with Satan. Like the Israelites, we look for Moses to go talk to God and tell us what He says, because cannot be bothered to go ourselves.
If you are a man in a church or denomination that affirms women in roles of leadership, great. Don’t you dare use that as an excuse to abdicate your call to servant leadership. If you are a man in a church or denomination that limits who can serve in leadership, then you really better step up, because who else is going to do it?