Role models and Mentors for Women in Public Leadership – Hilary Clinton

28 09 2016

Humans of New York

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/150136510691/im-not-barack-obama-im-not-bill-clinton-both

Political agendas aside – I get her. I get Hilary Clinton  (yes this is a bold staement to make). I have not experienced the depth of vitriolic public shaming she has experienced by some citizens of our country, not even close. I am with her when it comes to the way a woman “must” present herself when speaking publicly and the  available role models and mentors leading up to that point – mainly men. Men, and every woman, who says I need to present myself differently in public to exude a sense of strength and confidence and  poise. This includes working hard to keep my voice low and slow since my higher pitched voice “doesn’t assert authority” – I dont mind being told low and slow so people can hear and understand – but to assert authority is a different piece of advice that exposes biases.

I’ve been blessed working and ministering at LCPC – with first a 70 year old woman who was interim pastor and now pastor Sandy for six years. I have learned a lot from both about the difficulties and the benefits women have in public leadership. Often times, when both of us, or several women have stepped up to leading the public part of worship at our church – heck even our organist and pianist are women – I have this nagging wonder and concern about the men and boys in the church and who they have as male role models in the church. Who can they look to to learn to be men of God?

As I read Hilary’s comments on role models, I realize there are more than enough positive male role models in the church, in our society, and there always will be. There are plenty of other places these men can choose to worship where men are the majority or only public face or voices. Personally, I truly am grateful for the many men in my life who have been and continue to be great mentors for me… so often though it has not been by choice. They simply have been or are the only option available to me as a woman.

There are many men who choose to stay and wholly participate in our community and after several years of being publicly led by women, they are still there. I really need not worry about them, they are fine. They choose to look to and minister alongside the women God has currently called to publicly lead their church – they have a choice. They get a choice of who will be their role model for public leadership – something a lot of women did not get until the last few decades. Actually, many women still do not have the choice in choosing to be led by a woman in authority – in the church, in academia, in politics.

Take this a step deeper and consider this who are in minority – people of color, people in poverty, LGBTQ persons – when do they get the choice? Why do we suppress their voices and styles of leadership and assume that the wealthy, white, straight (mostly male) role model is THE model for leading the whole of this mixed diverse population?

Thank you Secretary Hilary Clinton (first woman to be a Presidential Nominee for the United States) for standing strong for yourself, speaking up for women in leadership, and being a role model and mentor we can relate to when it comes to being in the public eye. Thank you to the men who take women as we are and have full confidence in our leadeship abilities – help in to hone our natural abilities rather than clone a full replica of your own skills and abilities.

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But I Don’t ‘Sound’ Like a Seminarian…

8 06 2016

It is that time in the quarter and the school year – when I have a lot of deadlines with my school, my kids school, our family life, our church year – the end of Spring quarter and the beginning of summer. It is also that time of the quarter where I become self-reflective and concerned about whether or not I should even be in seminary (never mind  I’ll have completed approx. 40 of the 120 credits needing for the Master in Divinity program in a few days).

Tonight was the last meetup for one of my classes that I am sad to see end – Global Christian Heritage. I can’t believe I have taken three quarters in this series following the history of Christianity around the world beginning with Jesus on up to today. It has been an eye opening series of classes. I have learned a lot more about the beliefs and interactions of the church – the one I grew up in, the ones in which I’ve served, the ones that family,friends, and others attend or now disassociate themselves with, and the church experiences yet to come. I don’t know it all, but I know a bit more than when I started my second year of class this past September.

Something else I’ve learned is I still haven’t acquired the ‘lingo’ of a seminarian – at least that of the ones I often hear speak up in class around me. This is something that really hit me tonight as we gathered for our final class at our professor’s home. I shared something connecting my work in children’s ministry with what we were talking about it class and what I had to say did not at all have any ‘seminary/theological’ lingo. I felt like the one with the most practical answer, with the most simple words, and I couldn’t even think of any words to try to match those of the brilliant colleagues in my class.  I kicked myself even as I spoke, realizing I was opening up my mouth yet again about children’s or youth ministry, wondering if what I wanted to say even made any sense to our discussion. It is really hard – very easy  to want to compare myself with others and yet understand that I am who God has made me to be and will give me the words I need for each situation. This is all on myself. No one has said anything to discourage me. I think it is my own expectations of what a seminary student is really supposed to be able to say, understand, and communicate.

Sometimes I wonder if because I have spent so many years translating theological concepts to children, teens, and other adults – trying to learn the big words and break down the lingo for others – that I don’t have the ability to speak as ‘eloquently’ as my seminary colleagues and professors. Perhaps this is one of my purposes for being called to pursue seminary studies: to learn the big concepts, grasp the greater issues of the church so that I can break it down to those whom I minister at church and at home. As I work through this frustration, I’m guessing this is how many of the people I’ve worked with who volunteer in children’s and youth ministry feel – and to those of you I say, it is OK if you aren’t able to teach or speak like your pastor or other minsters… just do your best to master the material set in front of you and translate God’s role and our role in it the best you can for the children and youth in your care – even if they are ‘just’ your own children.

We need not compare – only encourage and pray for one another to continue the call God sets on each of our hearts, knowing somehow that through our simple and our eloquent words that God will be made known to others. And please don’t hesitate to remind me of this if you hear me worrying about whether or not I’m eloquent enough to be in seminary (although I’m sure to some I could probably make some improvements when I contribute to a classroom discussion).





Inspired by “Ministry Matters™ | Helping people transition to another church”

5 08 2014

I’ve come across an excellent post describing how one can help a person in transition when they need to leave the church. Ministry Matters™ | Helping people transition to another church. It discusses how to address a congregational community member when they leave for life changes like college, marriage, new jobs, etc.

What I hoped it would but doesn’t address, is those who are simply looking for something different in worship service or a different type of worshiping community – locally. This is where I often  have continuous conversations with parents and teens in children and youth ministry in a smaller church.

In our church a few things might cause people to want to try  something else (at the same time, these might draw people in!):

  • We don’t have the exciting thrills of the mega-churches around us in the Seattle area when it comes to children, youth, or adults.
  • Our children’s and youth minsitry various from 1 to 20 children/teens on any given Sunday.
  • We have women in leadership – the pastor and myself (whom the church has chosen to call in to these positions).
  • Much of the staff and much of the congregation is (not officially) affirming to LGBTQ parishioners and families – our pastor will perform same sex marriages.
  • We are trying to figure out the best use of our large, beautiful building that we can’t afford to keep to ourselves.
  • Staff salaries have been cut recently including hours of availalbility which affects programs and plans.
  • For now church polity requires that in order to be an elder or deacon you must be an official ‘member’ of the church – and some people are not keen on membership to anything really hindering some excellent folks from holding various leadership roles in the church.
  • We have and use an organ (among other instruments) and sing songs from hymnals (among other types of music)

These and other concerns are reasons I’m continually having conversations beginning with “We are trying out some other churches…” . In a smaller church you really notice when someone or some family is missing for any number of weekends. Other parishioners get nervous and constantly ask “Where are they? do you know if they are coming back? What can you/we do different to bring them back?” . I sometimes know the answer to the first question and usually have nothing for the other two.

To be honest, I decided several years ago that people are going to make their choices, we can do the best we can to involve them in the life of the church and then it is up to them and God’s holy spirit to figure out the rest. My brain will get tired trying to keep track, but it isn’t up to me to decide whether they will stay or go. It is up to me not to let my heart be jealous and angry at people for making their own choices.  We all have seasons in our lives where we need to try something a little different or experience something for ourselves to see to even know if where we are at is what we want and need. I’m of the opinion that we pray for folks and give our blessing to let them wander and try new things and let them know should they choose to come back and stay we are here and have a place for them. I will be sad if it is a person or family that has been a “pillar” of sorts in the congregation community, but it isn’t fair to make people feel guilty or hold them back from something God is calling them to do for themselves and their families.

I have the same opinion when it comes to working with volunteers. Sometimes volunteers want to try something else and they feel stuck in having made a commitment to a particular ministry. I love my volunteers and generally it is few and far between with children and youth ministry – but again we need to let the Spirit lead. If they have gifts and talents and interests they want to try somewhere else for a period of time or they simply are having some tough times in life  – release them, give them permission, and trust that God will work within the ‘gap’ seemingly left in your ministry. We have to trust that God isn’t just working in the life of that one person, but yours as well.

We are called to be people of the spirit – the one Jesus’ sent to work in and through and with us. That means it is important having the tough conversations and giving permission and blessing to allow God’s spirit to work in all people – even if it stings our heart a bit.





Help me: Children Verbally Abused by Peers

20 05 2014

This happens in communities all the times – I see it in the children/youth ministry and I see it among my almost 10 yr old daughter and her friends – and it breaks my heart.

Child # 1 just happens to be friendly to others and tries to be understanding in tough situations and then by chance and sometime “on purpose” because she gets along with others well – she gets paired up or simply stuck in a group with Child #2.

Child #2 is maybe jealous , can’t handle the niceness or Child #1, or maybe gets frustrated in their own shortcoming but knows Child #1 won’t lash back so passive aggressively blames the failings and frustrations on Child #1 – privately or in a group setting.

I’m in an odd place in trying to figure out how to be the adult in these situations – because:

1) often the children come to me to report, Child #1 is hurt by child#2 and doesn’t like it and needs it to stop. Child #2 claims they’ve done nothing wrong and it is the fault of Child #1.

2) I don’t always see or hear the interaction.  Other friends chime in to support child #1, and no matter what Child #2 keeps up the shenanigans.

3) Child #1 knows all the others are on their side, but that doesn’t matter when you are a tween or a teen = because you’ve been embarrassed in front of them, so there must be something wrong that you are the one verbally abused.

In church, school playground, and “team work” related activities parents have committed children to participate in Child #1 has no real way to get away from or ignore Child #2.

So what do you do? I can see why child #1 might actually love participating in a ministry program or attending church, or avoid going on the playground during recess, or not want to be in an extracurricular they really love – becasue if they go it is more than likely they will be attacked (in a way the adults won’t see) by child #2.In a few cases, I KNOW it is NOT the fault of the parents and in other cases , it is more than  obvious the parents have modeled this behavior for their children.

Also what do you do in group settings where child #2 gets ostracized by others, after they have repeatedly been reprimanded by the community of friends of child #1.  In church, the school playground, other activities — these kids need the interaction with others, but they become unwanted after damaging the hearts of other one too many times.

How do we love Child #2, while protecting/supporting/empowering Child #1? How might both be engaged without  both dropping out  because they’ve been hurt.

When is it OK to talk to parents as an adult who hasn’t been an eye-witness but has children eye-witnesses?

How do you talk withthe parent of Child #2 when they are a leader of the group, or not willing/to embarrassed to  admit their child could have been so hurtful to another?

I get stuck in the middle as a parent (my kiddo is so often the Child #1 and it breaks my heart). Tough when I am usually the leader of what ever program Child #1 and Child #2 are participants of…. “Your child is picking on my child” – They see me as the leader who thinks their child is perfect and can do no wrong.

Please share your suggestions and similar experiences in the comments below.





5 Traps That Can Catch The KidMin Leader | Kidmin360

8 04 2014

Taking me longer than I expected to process the promised “next” post.

I couldn’t help but share this link for my KidMin (Children’s ministry) inclined followers. I’ve been in a conference workshop session or two led by Greg Baird and I respect his thoughts and ideas when it comes to minsitry leadership. He has great words and adapts his posts to the context of small, medium, and large size churches. I especially appreciate today’s post on “Traps”. True-to-Life situations and excellent questions for us to ask to keep ourselves and our ministries in check. All apply to me, but applaud #5… something that has been meaningful for me to realize over the years as a small church faith formation leader.  Take a peek, it is worth the read:

5 Traps That Can Catch The KidMin Leader | Kidmin360.





Please!! Let the Children Lead!!

27 09 2013

I drove into my daughters’ school drop-off zone yesterday morning pnly to drive out angry at how adults sometimes treat children who are trained and designated to be community leaders.

I confess – we were in the “5 minutes to the last bell”crowd. As I pulled up closer to the five designated drop-off-and-drive-off spots, I immediately noticed some heavy drop-off congestion. Five cars were all vying for the same spot. Just beyond the parking lot, safely on the sidewalk and wearing her patrol gear what a child who looked frustrated but kept doing her job – holding out her hand for cars #6 and beyond to wait and directing other cars to pull out. Parents in cars #1-5 and even #6 #7 were ignoring this poor young lady and just driving up to other spots and causing the crazy congestion that stopped the entire parking lot from working as smooth as it could.

Now these drop off spots are very clearly marked by numbers and heavily publicized policies in parent/school  communications). Often there is an adult – parent or teacher – helping out, but these patrol students are well trained. I’m guessing it was “5 minutes to the bell” and the adult helpers needed to get to their classrooms, etc. There really shouldn’t be an issue here. Had the driving “adults” respected the leadership and training of this student – rather than simply dismissing her as “only a child” perhaps the drop-off area would have run more smoothly.

I was really frustrated for this little girl and need to send a note of thanks off to our principal to let them know what I observed. I was so frustrated that parents of a community pledging to come together to raise our kiddos up as leaders in this school system can decide to one-up the system and take things into their own hands. Not only does it clog up our parking lot and drop-off system – it degrades the very thing we are trying to teach and deflates an individual child’s confidence in their abilities.

Here are my thoughts when it comes to children and leadership in churches (or anywhere really):

* When provided training and given responsibility we need to let the children go and let them lead – especially the ones who really get it. Sometimes they may need assistance etc. But let them lead.

* When being led by a child – we need to let them lead. Adults simply need to respect and trust that if another adult has left a child (11,12,13 yr old child) in charge then they likely are responsible enough to lead. IF there is an issue – bring it to the team leader, rather than take things into your own hands [unless it is a viable safety issue of course].

Please let our children and youth be leaders – they need it, we need it, and sometimes they are just better at the job!

And to that young patrol student – this is what I want you to hear: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  – 1st Timothy 4:12





Hope Tank on Empty

27 06 2013

I know there were people listening to my side today and supporting me through my failures.But sometimes I just mess up and feel like the lowest most hopeless person in the earth.

Ever had a day where you were having a great time, then it all sort of fell apart? That happened to me today.

My scripture for tonight “I lift my eyes up, to the mountains, where does my hope come from? My hope comes from you, maker of Heaven, creator of the Earth. Oh how I love you Lord, you are my only hope, you are my only prayer”. Psalm 121

I used to pray this psalm on a regular basis in college, through depression and other crazy life happenings. It has been awhile since I have thought of these words I am thankful for God’s spirit flowing psalms of hope through my “saddened and disappointed in my self” heart.








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