Wednesday, August 31, 2005

You Can Only Be What You Are

I believe that our character and giftings become evident in the life we live. If the giftings of a pastor, apostle, prophet, teacher, or evangelist are in you, they will find a place of expression in your life.

Many of our current church structures and titled positions are based on power and rank, not necessarily gifting. Those in power become the gatekeepers to determine whose giftings are recognized and who is qualified to serve. Too often, we have waited for these systems to validate and acknowledge us.

Go ahead and be what you are. Let the life of Christ be expressed through you in the ways that are in your heart, not worrying about whether your giftings carry a title. If it is in your heart to mentor and shepherd, don't wait for someone to call you an elder or pastor. Go ahead and serve with the giftings that are in you.

Women especially have sat sidelined while men, scratching their heads, puzzled over what a woman's role in the church should be. It doesn't matter what they decide, because their lack of understanding doesn't negate the spiritual giftings that are already within women. You may never be acknowledged by certain institutions, but the kingdom is wide open to those who desire to serve with a humble and loving heart.

The same thing applies to being missional and emerging. It really doesn't matter if those around you agree with your ideas about being emerging. If you are emerging, go ahead and emerge. If you are truly missional, find a way to express that in your life. You don't have to change your entire church in order to be missional. Let being missional begin in your own heart and life first.

As we pursue insignificance and obscurity, it is likely that we will never be recognized at the gates of influence. However, there is nothing holding us back from living our lives with full expression of the spiritual gifts that are resident in us.
So go ahead, be what you are!


Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Great affirmation. Thanks!


-just-a-girl- said...

amen sister.

fr'nklin said...

Once again, very nice blog. I've been working on a blog about "women elders". My denomination does NOT ordain women as elders. However, when I look at our church, the people we call "elders" don't do what elders are called to do, while women, who are not ordained as what elders are called to do!!!!

We may pride ourselves on our doctirnal/Biblical soundness ("we don't ordain women elders")...but when God looks at us...who do you think he sees as "elders"? The people we "ordain" as elders, or the people who are "eldering"?

Thanks for your post...sorry for the rant! LOL

Pam Hogeweide said...

There is a wonderful book by the founder of Youth With a Mission, Loren Cunningham, titled "Why Not Women?"

In this book Loren and his co-author (a bible scholar) tackle this very issue head on of women in ministry and leadership. Loren believes and affirms women in leadership and gifting of every kind. His book is helpful in examining some of those hard passages Paul wrote (e.g. Let a woman not teach...).

For many years it has been my conviction that God does not limit anyone - we limit ourselves and one another. It may be wisdom in each situation whether the leadership is male or female or both - I do not think someone is disqualified from certain gifting or leading just because of their gender.

I like that verse in Gal 3:28 -
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I appreciate that you are blogging about this EG. It really is an important subject.

I was once involved with a women's bible study in a conservative, evangelical church that I was a part of. Very lovely church, great people. I was not surprised that nearly all of the women at this study were of the opinion that women ought not to lead when that leadership would be over men. Women could lead children and other women, but not men.

I was surprised, and dismayed,however, to learn that about half of the women there would not vote for a woman seeking a political office based, simply, on her gender, rather than her competence. I was also distressed to discover that the leader of this group felt in her convictions to never pray outloud in the presence of men, and if she heard a married woman pray in public she would silently ask God to quiet her up "so her husband could pray instead". She felt very strongly about women not usurping men's authority in the home or the church. To her, it was very clear that God does not release women to lead when men could be influenced by that leadership.

I gave her a copy of "Why Not Women?" and told her when she read it I would like to take her out to lunch and discuss it.

She still hasn't called.

Lorna said...


Found my way over here courtesty of eija.

Great post. and the timing is excellent too. I just got back from interviewing a (male)leader of a church plant who has spent some time investigating what the Bible really says about women, and what Paul might have actually meant.

His conclusion? That God doesn't look at gender to include or exclude those He has gifted and called from leadership, be it as an elder or a pastor.

Let's hear a great big hallelujah for this :)

More to the point though I agree 110% or more with the post. We might not get recognition (some of us, male or female) but let's just get on with the task in whatever way we can. God opens doors if we step out in obedience.

be blessed all of you :)

grace said...

I was just reminding myself. :)
Nice to meet you. I've seen your comments at lots of places and visited your wife's blog today.

sliverzgirl, nice to meet you too.
I saw your name on "the list."
I'll pop over for a visit to your blog soon.

fr'nklin, I always appreciate your comments. I agree with what you are saying. It doesn't matter as much what we've got figured out doctrinally, as it matters how God sees it.

Hi Pam. When you know what you are, it doesn't matter much what limiting rules others play by, unless you're trying to play in their game.

There are a lot of "christian" doctrines that leave me shaking my head, thinking, "you must be kidding!"

Lorna, I'm glad that you caught that this is not simply a female issue. Like you said, it applies to any of us to get on with what God has called us to.

Thanks for the discussion.

Saint said...

Hey Grace - great post, and I have to agree it is very relevent right now. Being a young married guy (married to sliverzgirl), you can imagine how much of the JamesDobson-Focus-on-the-Family-Fundamentalist-Religious-Right style family teachings I have had to endure over the past few years.

You know its funny that I used to really eat that stuff up until I got married and realized that if half of what all of the MEN are saying about marital roles (and by extension, leadership roles in general) is true, then my wife and I must be in for REAL trouble, because we are just the kind of people that can hold up the patriarchal thing.

And its not that we are being rebellious against it - we just (as individuals and as a couple) are not built that way. And more and more I am noticing a lot of Christian women who have been functioning in so-called "Christian" marriages who I never realized are completely repressed and seem miserable in a way that is hard to define.

Anyway, sorry to rant - keep posting!

grace said...

Hi Saint. An earlier post of mine, titled "Requiring Submission," may be of interest to you. I explained how mutual submission and shared leadership have worked in my 25 year marriage.

Nice to meet you, and wishing you and sliverzgirl many happy years together.

RonMcK said...

A tremendous variety of ministries are open to women in the Bible. The prophetic ministry was always open to women. Miriam, Deborah and Hulda are given the title of prophetess in the Old Testament. In the New Testament we have Anna the prophetess who recognised Jesus as the Messiah, when he was a baby in the temple. The four daughters of Philip are also described as having the gift of prophecy.

The apostolic ministry was also open to women. An apostle is a believer who is sent out in a missionary situation. A woman who fulfilled this ministry is Priscilla the wife of Aquila (Acts 18:1-5, 18-26). Paul met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth, and when he went out to establish a new Church in Ephesus he took them with him. He mentions Priscilla three times in his letters as a fellow worker.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul describes Andronicus and Junia as outstanding among the apostles (Rom 13:7). Junia is almost certainly a feminine name, so Andronicus and Junia were probably husband and wife. Paul considered them both to be apostles.

In the New Testament both the apostolic and prophetic ministries were open to women, so it follows that women can be elders. Female elders in 1 Tim 5:2. The word translated as older women is “presbuteras”, which is a feminine form of the Greek word for elder. It could be also translated as elder’s wife, female elder, or elderess. The passage should then read: "Treat younger men as brothers, female elders as mothers, and younger women as sisters." Paul is speaking of a female elder.
(From Being Church Where We Live p.42.)

grace said...

Great comments Ron.

It doesn't surprise me that Scripture would actually support the idea of individual gifting that is not categorized as male or female.

Elden Ezelle said...

OMG! Thank you for this.