My friend and colleague, Mike Rayson, shared a blog post on this Facebook timeline the other day. It was called “9 Things You Need to Know About Your Pastor”. It was an interesting article. And when I say, “It is interesting,” I mean that in the same way as I do when someone shares with me an article by Joyce Meyer or Joel Osteen. “Oh, pastor, did you see that article by Joel Osteen I shared with you?”
“Yes, it was very interesting.”
You see, while the post did bring up a few noteworthy points, it was difficult to wade through its gender bias. When I last checked, there were 133 comments on the blog. If I were to add one, it would read: “I will add No. 10 – He’s a woman.”
Mike’s wife Amy Rayson wrote this blog “Ten Things Your Pastor Wishes You Knew About Her”. Coincidentally, I am told, she had written this post a few days before he shared the “9 things” post, but it seemed to be a perfect response nonetheless.
1. She is not a woman pastor.She is a pastor. No one says, “This is Pastor Steve – he’s a man pastor.”Having her gender attached to her job title as a (dis)qualifier diminishes both her, and the role of pastor.2. Yes, she has read 1 Timothy 2:12.Also 1 Corinthians 14:34.Often. In fact it is likely she has spent many, many, many more hours than you pouring over and wrestling with those texts.3. She doesn’t do it for the fun of it.She has argued, wrestled, cried, lamented, and railed against her call.She has been to Tarshish many times on her way to Nineveh. She does not exist to make a point, to make waves, or to make you mad. She is (and should be) obedient to her God, not to her critics.4. She is soft.She is soft not because of her gender, but as all people are soft – by nature of the biological and psychological reality of humanity. She works to REMAIN soft, despite the abrasions and burns of life. Because only psychopaths are content to be hardened and heartless.5. She has been hurt.Recently. Possibly by you.It is a tough gig.When she is hurt she is like an athlete competing on a broken foot. But she keeps doing her job anyway, because she is obedient to her call. Your positive feedback and encouragement on the job she is doing help her heal from those hurts more than you can imagine.6. She loves her family.Not all pastors have children, but all have some kind of group of humans she calls family.If you hurt them, you hurt her and reduce her ability to be effective in ministry. Yes, she will devote some of her time and energy to the care of her family. This is good and scriptural. She loves it when you support her in this.She does not put church first and family second. She puts God above all things. God takes care of the priorities from there.7. She has a title.She may prefer you to use it. She may prefer to be called by name.But if you do use a title use the correct one.She may be Jane, or Pastor Jane… but she is NEVER Miss Jane.
Yes, this includes when you introduce her to someone outside of your church or religious group. When you introduce your doctor to a friend you don’t demote him to ‘Mr.’ Even Protestants call the Roman Catholic leader ‘Pope’.If you can’t respect her, at least respect the office.8. She is not a feminist.Or she is. Really that’s up to her. By definition, a feminist is simply ‘a person who supports the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.’But she is not automatically a feminist by virtue of her gender or profession.It is likely, however, that she has spent at least some time wishing people would be less genderist (look it up).9. She wishes she had a ‘clergy wife’.(She has this point in common with her male colleagues.)Single or married, she has heard of these mythical creatures who play piano , lead Sunday School classes, keep the home and any children clean fed and happy. . . and she would LOVE to have one of them! Who wouldn’t?Sounds awesome!Instead (if she is married) she has a spouse who is her partner in the home, and who holds their own position of value in the world; possibly, even, a position of paid employment. Her spouse (if she has one) is not an unpaid, extra church staff member. Take your church issues up with her, not her spouse (or her kids).10. I do not speak for her.She shook her head at least once while reading this. She is diverse and unique and her story is her own.And she would love an opportunity to share that story with you.11. She makes mistakes.See? Even in counting points in a blog post.She makes mistakes, not by nature of being female, but because she is a flawed, broken human being who is redeemed only through the grace of God. She craves forgiveness just as badly any other person.