A Woman Should Learn

I wonder if we’ve missed the lesson.  

In all the arguments and pontifications about how to interpret 1 Timothy 2, about what is really the role of women in the world, I wonder if we’ve missed something hidden in its message that is universally applicable to all.

 

I wonder if we should take to heart that anyone who gets onto a platform to talk, write, or argue about God, whether woman, man, or child, first

 

“should learn in quietness and full submission.” – 1 Timothy 2:11

 

In my interpretation of this verse and the ones to follow, I believe it is quite important that the words “women should learn” are phrased in an imperative, while the words about how he "does not permit a woman to teach” in the following verse are not. (Though, 1 Timothy 2 doesn’t render that way in English translations.) If you are interested in a fuller discussion of an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 that would support women in leadership and teaching, this paper from Christians for Biblical Equality is a good read.

 

But regardless of your view on women in leadership, in the midst of all the debates, isn’t there a truth imbedded here that we have missed?

 

teacher learnerI wonder if Paul is reminding us that a teacher must first be a learner, sitting in a posture of quietness and full submission to the God he or she is talking about.

 

Too many of us, myself included, have a habit of being loud before we are quiet. We share with others before we listen to God.

 

The other habit is to only teach on something once we have figured it out. We share about our destination instead of our journey. “I used to struggle with such and such, but now, with God’s help, I have found a better way.”

 

What if more preachers and teachers and writers and debaters took the posture of a learner first, sitting in quietness and full submission to God? How would that change the tone of Christianity today?

 

We cannot judge for sure whether that is going on with each individual. And we also can’t assume that everyone will be able to get it right all the time. But what if we did more to hold one another accountable to that ideal?

 

I had the opportunity to preach at all the weekend services of my church this past weekend. It was a joy and a blessing. And though some may view it as a betrayal of 1 Timothy 2:12, I hope it was a living out of 1 Timothy 2:11.

 

I hope I was a learner first.

 

In some ways, I know I was. I find such joy in teaching when I feel it is a lesson I am learning out loud. When I walk away knowing the words coming out of my mouth were just as much God’s message to me as they were His message to anyone else.

 

In other ways, I know I wasn’t. That came out in some convicting but wonderful feedback from someone on my team. In my message, I talked about a learning experience during the summer of 1999. That’s 14 years ago, people. {Crazy!} Here’s what my team member had to say about that

 

I know it might be hard, but when stories can be more recent, it shows that the speaker is willing to STILL be working on themselves. Right? When possible, to show growth from the past two weeks might be a weightier call to action. Because we’re talking to people about how they are living their life today (and we’re supposing they need to change), but we use examples for ourselves from years ago.”

 

I LOVE that challenge. And I plan to take it to heart the next time I speak. How powerful would it be if more preachers had the courage to say out loud what they are currently learning.

 

I wonder if 1 Timothy 2:11 could make better teachers out of all of us.

 

If you would like to listen to my message from the weekend, you can find it here. Look for the “Regroup” series, and the message titled, “ReGroup: Jesus’ Community” by Stephanie Spencer. And, if it’s not clear on the audio, when I tell that story from 1999, and talk about the bossy girl who was controlling and hard to love, I was raising my hand and pointing to myself. :) 

On Being a Woman in Ministry

The debate about whether or not women should be in ministry rages across the church world. In the midst of it, I love what Ed Cyzewski has done. Instead of entering into lots of heady and heated arguments, he has opted to tell stories. Debates are different when we realize we are talking about real people.

I am so honored to be part of a series that has featured so many amazing women. Please don't only head there to read my post, scroll through and see some of the other stories that have been told.

Here's a preview of mine:

Words are slung carelessly about the Internet every day.

We climb over each other in effort to sound the most eloquent as we share our opinions. We long to prove why we are right, and why others are wrong. It’s as if life is an extended debate match we are somehow better people when we come out the victor.

Arguments like this rage about the question of whether women should be in ministry.

One person hurls out 1 Cor 14:34-35 as proof that women should stay silent in church, while another shoots back that Paul’s greetings to women in his letters are evidence that they were considered among the leaders. One person launches the grenade of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 instructing women to not have authority over men, while another heaves language and cultural circumstances that point to these verses as not being normative commands.

All the while, someone like me stands in the middle. Sometimes feeling hit by both sides.

I am a female pastor. This debate is not just about theology. This debate is about my life.

 

Go to Ed's site to read more of my post, Women in Ministry: The Risk of Unused Gifts

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