“Yes, Virginia, you can be a Leader.”

“I don’t think women can lead.” This was the statement uttered confidently by a women being interviewed on the radio from a group in Iowa labeled Christian Conservative. The large group was being interviewed about the Republican presidential debate, the upcoming primary, and why a person would or would not vote for a particular candidate. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was summarily dismissed as a candidate by this woman, not because she lacks character, logic, leadership abilities, no vision, or any other reason. Bachmann may not be able to lead for a whole host of arguments, but being a woman is not one of them.

I have to say this statement pushed me over the edge and into this writing to affirm from my Christian perspective and study of the Bible that God calls, equips, and places women in roles of leadership.

I won’t make the laundry list….it would be pages and thousands of names long. An almost endless number of women have effectively and with vision lead nations, NGOs, universities, states, churches, businesses, etc., etc., etc. As a Christian, however, I now realize a statement like the one uttered this morning is based on personal opinion and little to do with intense scholarly exegesis or study of scripture, household codes of the ancient world which is the context of the Bible in these passages, or examinations of western church dogma as it plays on one’s opinions. Statements like these don’t pay any attention to the gospels and Jesus’ affirmation of women as disciples nor Paul’s overall tone in his letters about women and their roles as leaders, deaconesses and coordinators of the early church. One text…one text in Timothy…not fully examined has been read in such a way as to relegate women to second class roles and status. Even the Genesis text has been misused to simply dismiss women as equal partners. All the references to chapter three of Genesis of man being over women is after the “Fall” if one reads the context; chapter three is not the created order God desired. It is the order after sin and disobedience had entered into the world. The ideal described in scripture of women and men is in the first two chapters that the two should be one and in a partnership with each other.

It saddens me that these texts and others have been used to tell women they cannot lead. I have personally talked with young women called by God to serve in ministry and leadership roles who agonize over what they know God has placed on their hearts because people use the Bible to blast them or tell them they are unworthy of leading because they are women.

I believe we serve a God who calls all people to serve him where he appoints them and equips them. I believe the Holy Spirit equips and guides all people to lead within the kingdom. I believe Christ invites all people to be his disciples and lead the structures of the world where they have the ability. Women and men; men and women, partners in kingdom work and ministering through the structures of this world.

“Yes, Virginia, you can be a leader” and if you want support, drop me a note and I will supply you with all the resources you need to affirm, guide, and encourage you in the journey.

Blessings for this day. Grace and peace as you thoroughly study the sacred texts we hold dear.

David Neidert

Your Next 100 Days

A lot can happen in 100 days. I haven’t written to my website blog for the past 100 days and more for the purpose of watching what happens. I last wrote a blog on the verdict day of the Kaylee Anthony Trial….the loss of a child in a tragic concoction of human choices, law and public fascination with this case. It captivated us worldwide. Dr. Phil has tried to keep this all alive via interviews with prosecutors and the Anthony Family, but alas…we have other things on our minds.

We soon left the trial for the most recent of events coming onto the screens of our lives via media bytes focused on new ways to capture our viewing, Twitter and Facebook posts. We saw the fall of Libya, Egypt and a host of unrest in the Middle East. Iran is trying to keep secret their ongoing nuclear arming, Heavy D died, as did Joe Frazier, and the Greek economy fell apart. Herman Cain seems to have gone the way of many politicians with a sex scandal, an asteroid comes ‘close’ to hitting the earth, and a star falls as Joe Pa and the Lions are embroiled in a sad display of treatment of our children.

I could write a lot here about what distracts and attracts us as consumers of media….but the point of this all for me is that life happens….and this too shall pass.

Yep, life happens. It comes and goes and fills us with events of world importance that grab our attention and “must see TV,” but it is also filled with those things most personal in our lives that supersede even the hottest of topics. In these 100 days, in my own life, family members have received not-so-good health news, some have died, financial burdens reflective of the economy have continued to be at the fore, I have celebrated with new students coming into the college environment pursuing a life calling and eventual vocation, been to some birthday parties, basked in Thanksgiving festivities and food, laughed a lot, cried some, and….well you get the point. Life happens….it goes on….and it is both predictable and surprising all at once.

So, what do we do with all this? I am reminded of my many years of academic training, professional work and personal philosophy that we should live each day as powerfully as possible, making plans for what we hope will unfold in life, loving those near us, counting our blessings, not sweating the small stuff, and being merry…..because we don’t know what the next 100 days will bring. This is not about giving one’s life up to the ‘fates’ but remembering that life is filled with certitude and joy as well as unexpected and unwelcomed moments. It is choosing to live life with gratitude, peace, love, kindness, gentleness, and all those things “against which there are no laws,” as the Apostle Paul wrote. It is about being aware that we live in a tension of the present and the future; finding a way to navigate them both with purpose, hope, joy and contentment.

I know what has happened in my past 100 days…I can only imagine what I must be prepared for in the coming 100. And you know them, too. Ever stop and wonder, “What is about to happen in the next 100 days based on the past 100?” So, bask in your blessings today, make the best choices you can for this moment, hug those you care about, live well as Aristotle challenged us, and work to keep all things in perspective.

Blessings to you for this day, and those yet to come….grace and peace.
David Neidert

A Child Lost

I just watched the verdict of the Casey Anthony trial. To say I am shocked is not true. I didn’t watch the trial every day like thousands did, nor did I follow it in the newspapers or read blogs on the trial regularly. I did watch and pay attention enough to know that the verdict would be ‘not guilty.’ I even told my family this several days ago. The trial was a mess; it was a terrible display of our legal system on both sides. I believe the family is not telling everything and I believe that Casey is involved; but we will never know the extent of any of the real facts as the case is filled with lies, overstatement of facts, and deceit at every turn. No matter what the outrage today or my personal opinion, the system has given its verdict.

I do sit, however, with a lump in my chest. The kind of lump you get when you know it is all wrong and you get tingly and nervous that it is all wrong; it is the type of feeling I cannot fully capture, but know others may feel it. In the end, no matter the verdict, a little girl lost her life. She is more than a victim or the subject of this trial. Caylee is the subject of a travesty of the first cause; that there should be smiles and ignorant jubilation while the life of a little child is not mentioned or if so, in cold facts like when someone describes a historical event we are separated from by time and space. A child, the real victim in this case, a victim unable to find justice. We as a society are to be mourned for what has taken place. No words can even express my sense of loss; and maybe yours as well.

As is often said in situations like this at the death of criminals: “May God have mercy on our souls” for what has occurred in what is to be the justice system. May God have mercy on us. And may God’s mercy and grace and peace bathe over the soul of Caylee Anthony. May the paradise promised be fully enjoyed by Caylee now and forever more.