Women in Leadership

I haven’t had time to blog recently. It’s been a hectic few weeks with our graduation, a major alumni event (200 people), banquet planning for our upcoming banquets this Saturday in Winnipeg (http://horizon.celect.org/winnipeg-banquet) and next Thursday in Saskatoon (http://horizon.celect.org/saskatoon-banquet), planning and reporting for May Board of Governor meetings next week, and attending two major conferences: the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada General Conference in Saskatoon at the end of April, and a Competency Based Education conference, from which I’m writing this blog now in San Antonio.

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Me in San Antonio at the CBE Conference, hanging with the Mariachi band.

The Competency Based Education conference is fantastic, laying out the model of education we are adopting at Horizon (come to one of the banquets to hear more!).

Attending this conference, it occurs to me that this is one of very few non-specifically-Christian conferences I’ve attended, and I’m struck by the demographic.

As I look around this room of professional, university leaders and administrators, I’m struck that the room is about 50-50 male and female. Furthermore, of the 5 presenters – all leaders in their fields -, 4 are women.

By contrast, every Christian-related conference I attend is made up overwhelmingly of males. (White males, but let’s not push it!) This is true of academic conferences, such as the Society of Biblical Studies, and is certainly true of our district and national conferences of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada has been fully ordaining women since 1984. Pentecostalism as a movement, in fact, would not exist were it not for the leadership of women in the early 20th century.

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Aimie Semple McPherson, early 20th-century evangelist and founder of the Foursquare Church.

Nevertheless, a glance around the room at any conference of Christian professionals shows that Christian leadership remains overwhelmingly male.

This troubles me.

I realize that many earnest Christians continue to stumble over such texts as 1 Timothy 2.12, which seemingly self-evidently prohibits women from having authority over or teaching men. (Interestingly, these same earnest Christians seldom stumble over 1 Timothy 2.15, ony 3 verses later, which seemingly self-evidently proclaims that women are saved through bearing children – hardly the New Testament formula we confess. Apparently, we can explain that text by reference to Paul’s “clearer teachings” on salvation elsewhere.)

For many Christians, however, the New Testament’s “clearer teachings” on women come from egalitarian texts such as Galatians 3.28 and the notion that God gifts people to serve him, regardless of age, race, or gender. For many Christians – on paper, anyway! – this problem is old news and women are welcome to inhabit leadership positions for which they have been gifted.

So why does Christian leadership remain such a male-dominated industry?

I don’t have good answers but, looking around this non-Christian conference filled with competent women leaders, I’m compelled to ask the question. In my own role as a Christian and, specifically, an educator of Christian leaders, I’m also compelled to do what I can to encourage and empower our women to embrace the leadership roles God is calling them to inhabit. I encourage those who feel likewise to do the same.

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7 thoughts on “Women in Leadership

  1. Great thoughts Dr. Martini. Would perhaps one of the reasons be that because there are already many strong male leaders, they often will inspire and spend time with young men to encourage them in their call while at times neglecting the young women (for numerous reasons, some have to do with how difficult it can be for a male leader to speak into a young woman’s life without it looking like something it isn’t). I think we as male leaders must look for creative ways in how we can inspire and disciple these young woman who are called to do great things among us.

  2. Great thoughts Jeromey. It seems we often base our thoughts and opinions on what we see around us as well as the influence of others, as opposed to wrestling out the scriptural basis for our opinions and theology.

  3. There are numerous reasons for this being the case – the fact that after over 30 years of ordaining women there are still very few full-time women ministers.

    A big one is the fact that there are so few available mentors for young women who desire to enter ministry. It is proven that even in the secular professional world that the availability of mentors has a significant impact of the advancement of a woman’s career.

    I personally, in my few years of pursuing full-time ministry, was denied an internship because the youth pastor refused to work closely with women, was kept at arms length by another pastor because I was a woman (I would have brought you for that visitation but I wasn’t sure if we should drive in the car together) and at the age of 23 had to bring my father with me as a chaperone to a meeting with a member of district leadership because he had a personal policy of never meeting alone with a woman, even in a public place (yes, that’s right we were meeting at Tim Hortons but my Dad still had to come).

    I eventually got tired of being treated like I was some sort of threat merely because I had breasts. Even the men who did not treat me as a threat were told by their superiors they needed to be.

    When I tried to speak up about it I was accused of being immature (don’t worry, I never used the breast line then 😁).

    So, as a woman, what does one do? Accept that you will always be on the fringes and tagged as dangerous if you try to challenge the status quo to be treated as equal (“You mean you want to be able to meet with men ALONE!?! What are your ulterior motives?).

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