“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

A Model for Reconciliation

My mother passed away on November 7, 2010.  She was a wonderful woman, as witnessed by hundreds who came to her funeral.  As my brother, sister, and I reflected on her life during her funeral, I penned the following.  I give it to those interested as a means for reflecting on your own life.  Blessings as you read this tribute.

A Tribute to Mom (from a son, David Lynn)

At the funeral of V. Patricia Neidert 

            Each of us, as grown children, experienced mom in different ways.  Mine was as a student of the Bible, which I have studied for the past thirty years of my life.  Mom loved to talk about the Bible.  It was important to her.  You could often find us perched on the bar stools in the homestead family room talking about it or engaging each other over the telephone about its place in our lives and faith.

            Living out her faith was like breathing for mom.  She may not have understood all the intricate nuances of the Bible or theology, but one element she understood instinctively was reconciliation; repairing broken things.

            Mom often worked behind the scenes to fix broken relationships. She didn’t always have it right, but she wanted friends and family to work together to repair what might be broken in the world or in their personal lives.

            Her whole life she tried to reconcile a broken place in her own experience by finding her birth family, which she never achieved.  It was an ongoing desire that never was quenched.  It was in that struggle, I think, that she somehow found in her daily life the connection for modeling and pursuing avenues for restoring broken relationships to wholeness wherever she encountered them.  Brokenness was something she personally knew.

            Restoration is sometimes hard, painful, and not easy, but mom knew it was worth the work and effort.  Because she loved the teaching of the Bible, she knew that in Christ we can be restored to wholeness.  That is the message of all scripture and one that mom understood well.

            While mom may not have understood theology, she knew sometimes we have to stand and fight for right, justice, and restoration; and challenged friends and family to do the same.

            The text of 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21 is about the ministry of reconciliation; to be ambassadors of Christ.  While she may not have known it, this scripture is central to us as believers.  It reads:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (TNIV)

            Mom sometimes simply shared about her faith and reconciliation, but always taught it and lived it out by example.  She wasn’t perfect (the only perfect things were her three children; if you spent any time with her, she would tell you that.  In the hospital, she introduced me again and again to nurses and aids.  She did the same with my brother and sister).  But mom tried to fix brokenness in family, friends, the RISK program at Green Local Schools (a program for teens) and in the church.  She knew the emotion in her own life of brokenness; somehow it may have helped her understand why it is important for all of us as human beings to be restored.

            We will honor her life in the days to come if we enter the primary relationship of all; the one we are invited to accept with Christ, who restored all humanity and the universe to God.

            That is what mom would have wanted all of us to know today.  We can be restored to God through Christ and become part of a ministry she modeled and held dear.  Brokenness fixed; wholeness coming to life.

            Her body in the end was broken; now it is whole.  That is the ultimate gift of God through Christ.  A hope she knew that would be reality as she experienced Christ face to face.

            Mom would have wanted one final prayer and blessing for you all on this day.  It comes from Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 13:14:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (TNIV)