I really want to write about my issues with the professional ministry, and I’m terrified.
Actually, I probably want to write a series of posts because it’s a big topic about which I have a lot of feelings, but that’s not the point. The point is I’m not sure I can do it.
I’m afraid of being heard. I come from a family where children are meant to be quiet and women submissive. I come from a denomination where people still debate the “appropriateness” of having female missionaries on a Sunday morning, and even if they get a chance to speak they may not be asked to preach. I spent three years in leadership in a campus ministry where I was regularly encouraged to step back and wait for one of the men to lead, to the point that I sometimes wondered if they were emphasizing “godly male leadership” at the risk of having no leadership at all.
I’m afraid of being wrong. I’m afraid that my arguments will be poorly thought out or poorly supported. After all, I’m not a theologian. I’m not a biblical scholar. I have a degree in religion from a secular university, but I’ve always felt undereducated about my faith and under-qualified to have my own opinions. I’m afraid that I’ll be too emotional. This is an issue that gets me hot under the collar. I was raised by a card-carrying Assemblies of God minister, and it left me with a less-than-neutral opinion on the issue. I’ve been messed on by the church. I’ve seen first-hand how painful and politicized and ugly the ministry can be. I’ve seen how it creates unbalanced power structures, how it can become an insider’s only club, and how it can leave people bitter, hurt, and empty. I’m not sure I can approach this issue without a bit of bias.
The truth is I feel like that about most important issues. I don’t like confrontation. I’m embarrassed to be wrong. I’m not comfortable speaking out in a group that I’m not sure agrees with me.
I don’t want to be that person.
I know that I’m not the only person who struggles with this. In fact, Sarah Bessey, a published author, recently wrote a great post on learning to own her authority as she edited her second book. I think my concern is that I’m not sure I have any authority. I’m not a well-respected anything. I’m just a 20-something student with a blog, trying to figure things out.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s the thing that makes it okay to be wrong. I don’t have to know everything to have a starting point for a discussion.
So there’s a series coming on my issues with the professional ministry. It probably won’t be the last topic I discuss that I feel insecure about. But I hope that in posting I will learn something about myself and my readers and that maybe we can learn something from each other.