Because of the male leaders in my life who have encouraged, strengthened and enabled the gifts of women to grow and be exercised in our church, I see these positive developments:
Female voices are welcomed at all leadership tables in our church. Please, can we be honest and say that women and men have innately different views on many things, including money, children, sex, work and marriage, and both viewpoints are valuable for creating a strong, beautiful community?
Though I am currently the only woman on the teaching team, I know that a woman’s unique take on life is represented in all the decisions our church is making. The female perspective doesn’t dominate the conversation, but I don’t believe anyone’s opinion dominates. We live in joyful—mostly joyful—submission to one another.
Young women see and believe there is room for them and their gifts in the church. They are not just dreaming of which strong leader they can marry, they’re also dreaming of what they can become and how their unique gifts might nourish the house of God.
Young men see that women are more than bodies and beauty. That awareness will serve them well when they date and choose a wife and work a job alongside women.
I’ve occasionally spoken at other churches where they’ve asked if it was OK to introduce me as something other than a pastor. I have no problem with this. Titles mean very little to me, and I don’t want something so trivial to alienate a listener.
Recently, however, I wrote a book, and it was a lot of work. When my publisher asked for a bio, I wrestled with it for days. What if that one word triggered a doctrinal bias that prevented people from reading a message of hope and life when they most needed it? I thought and prayed and wished for the day when entire organizations weren’t required to keep the lines so firmly drawn between men and women.
I dreamed of the glory of the garden and those days before the fall and the curse disrupted the beautiful, free flow of community and comradeship enjoyed by Adam and Eve. I prayed and wished and dreamed, and then I wrote what I know to be true: Bo Stern is a teaching pastor at Westside Church. And that’s my journey.
Bo Stern is a blogger and author of the newly released Beautiful Battliefields (NavPress). She knows the most beautiful things can come out of the hardest times. Her Goliath came in the form of her husband’s terminal illness, a battle they are still fighting with the help of their four children, a veritable army of friends and our extraordinary God. She is a teaching pastor at Westside Church in Bend, Ore.
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