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How will I be heard?

February 9, 2013

Add a season of serious busyness, some ill health, some indolence and voila: no writing.  However, the blog world has recently kicked me into gear once again.  Some recent conversations as well as some personal reflection have had me thinking about how I communicate.

Several years ago I read  The Loudest Duck by Laura Liswood.  This book helped me articulate many of the issues I was having within my workplace, where I am one of the few female pastors on a large staff at a mega church.   Our senior pastor had asked the entire pastoral staff to read the book.   It gave those of us who did not have male privilege and power some language for dialog.  Sadly, however, not much changed ultimately.   I still regularly find myself ignored when I express myself in my normal manner.  Called out for being harsh if I express myself in a way similar to my male colleagues.

In an earlier post I wrote:

As we look at current business leadership, the trend is toward teams and team building, with an emphasis on creating teams that are strengths based. From a biblical perspective, I would say that this points us to one of the first issues.   As we seek to develop leadership teams for churches, do we not want to reflect not just strengths, but God’s character and nature on our teams?  Men and women are created in the image of God, yet are often different in the ways they think about and approach issues.  As men and women, we both reflect the image of God, yet somehow differently; different aspects, different ways of looking at things, different ways of processing information.  I would suggest that leadership teams for non-gender specific ministries that are not mixed gender fall short of reflecting fully God’s nature and character in the leadership team.  Well balanced single gender teams, while they may be highly successful, might find that they are even more effective moving to a mixed gender model, although they may have to learn to operate a bit differently!

I am even more convinced of this today than when I posted this previously.  I know that there are things that I see and experience differently than my male colleagues.   I also know that God placed me where I am for a purpose.  How then can I fulfill this purpose if I am ignored or silenced when I reflect what I am seeing and hearing in our church?  If I am not to operate in the way that God has created me, then why be there at all? Honestly, I’m tired of having to put on the “man suit” to be heard and respected. I’m tired of being ignored when I don’t and damned when I do.

How can I communicate in a way that does not violate who I am as a woman and still be heard?  One truth I have recently embraced is that I do not need anyone’s permission to have an opinion, to voice it and defend it.  Do I need to speak like a man to do this? No, but I do need to be tenacious and that can be difficult.  My old complementarian upbringing had convinced me that at some level I needed permission to think and speak differently than the males around me, and to hold an opinion that is different in the face of much masculine disagreement can be challenging.  So I need to pick my battles carefully.

So, how will I be heard?  I’m still figuring it out.  But I do know this;  if I don’t speak at all, I will never be heard!

From → Women's issues

  1. As the first female non-Catholic chaplain in a Catholic hospital, I was silenced A LOT. My input, caregiving, theology, beliefs, and even my very personhood were demanded and ignored. It was a progressive administrator who believed in me say the need for a broader Christian representation and mission that was needed in our small town hospital. After about six months, I went to his office, trying really hard to not cry like a girl, and laid my resignation on his desk. “This place just is not ready for me, for a non-Catholic woman, it’s okay, I understand, I am stepping down.” John simply and kindly looked at me and said “somebody has to be the voice of change, I believe that somebody is you, and I believe that you can do this.” Four years later, John now serves on the other side of the country and I am still serving in this small town Catholic hospital. There are many who have “come around” and now appreciate my gifts and passion to serve. And there are some who have not, nor ever will. I have come to be at peace with this. I was the voice of change, I am proud of that, I still don’t like it, and I will continue at it anyway.

    Some of us are quite simply called to be the voice in the deserts of narrowness, old systems, and oppressiveness. We must speak. We must speak with love. We must speak loud at times. And above all, we must speak with the Spirit’s guidance. Thanks, Sue, for being a fellow voice with me.


  2. Lisa Menden permalink

    Thank you for being bold, leading others, and speaking truth in love. Those who going before us are most wounded in the battle, yet without those willing, we will stay where we are. May Christ go along side of you and His grace abound though you my Sister.


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