By Warren Janzen, International Director, SEND International
This article is part of the series Pursuing Partnership: Men and Women in Ministry.
Part 11: A Brother’s Cycle to Action
Her name is Carol. She is a gifted leader, in a position where she can freely exercise her gifts. God has been using her powerfully to impact many others for the sake of His Kingdom. Then there is Karen. She too is a gifted leader. Yet, like the lock-downs we face with the Covid-19 pandemic, her contributions are restricted in scope and impact.
My journey towards pursuing real, empowering partnerships between women and men in ministry has felt like the slow journey through a set cycle.
First is the wake up call. My wife and others have graciously but firmly brought my attention to the fact of gifted women, some of whom are under “lock-down” type restrictions while others are released and contributing. They’ve raised questions about assumptions, about conscious and unconscious barriers, of God’s intent and design. They’ve challenged me to examine my assumptions and then use my influence to address this topic with individuals, organizations and churches.
Second is recognition and acknowledgement of my blindness or inattention. I’m busy, there are lots of things that need to be done. Its easy to pass over some “volatile” topics in order to keep other things moving ahead. Sometimes we need to do that, but not on this topic. The collective impact women and men can have for God’s Kingdom when they are freed up to partner together is exponentially greater than when women are sidelined or restricted. I’ve had this experience over and over: in discernment and decision making it is consistently better when we do it together. But that, depending on the context, takes a lot of hard work.
Third is study. I realized early on that my opinions of women in leadership and ministry were often imbibed from others rather than discerned on my own. After the wake up call and recognition of my unchallenged assumptions, I dove into studies of God’s Word and the reflections of many others who have researched this topic. I attended a retreat through Missio Nexus and met others who like me were on this journey. My eyes were opened to so much more truth, so much more potential.
Fourth is determination. Upon realization of the incredible resources that we have kept under varying states of lock-down, I have determined to release them to be woven into the very core of who we are and what we do. Carolyn Custis James uses the term “blessed alliance” to describe the healthy and productive relationship between men and women serving Christ. This term has helped frame the topic for me and is the goal which I pursue.
I called this a “cycle” at the start because it is not merely a one-time event. I’ve gone through each step and unconsciously assumed I had arrived at the end of this journey only to be woken again to the fact that there are more layers, more situations where I need to struggle with the many ways in which we are not operating as a blessed alliance. So the journey continues, and so do the rewards of working together with many fabulous and gifted sisters in Christ.
This article is submitted by Wendy Wilson of Missio Nexus and of Women’s Development Track. Women’s Development Track is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.