Thank You to the Men
In light of Beth Moore’s May 4th post Letter to my Brothers, I decided to write my own letter. It’s been in my head for a while, and since Beth Moore’s letter encouraged, inspired, and caused me to weep, I knew it was time to write my letter.
Unlike Moore, I’m at the very beginning of my vocation in ministry. But similar to Moore I’ve experienced terrible sexism. Also similar to Moore, I've experienced beautiful, healing male-female relationships with coworkers and fellow ministry workers. While I think we have a plethora of examples of what not to do, I wonder if we have enough examples of redeeming situations of men and women working together to serve the cause of Christ—serving one another with mutual respect and deference.
That’s why I wanted to write this letter. I wanted to get a chance to say some things about being a female ministry leader in the evangelical world, but I also wanted a chance to say thank you to some significant men in my life whom the Lord has transformed and allowed to bless me with their humility and care.
But first I must give a nod to my own painful experience: In the short time I’ve been in ministry, I’ve been mansplained so many times I’ve lost count. I was once told by a man that I shouldn’t go to seminary because it was completely useless if I wasn’t going to be a pastor. I’ve been told by a man that the solution to struggles in my career was to, “just get married so you won’t have to work.”
I once was in a meeting of all men, a document needed copies and the document was unceremoniously passed across the table to me, the only female. I eagerly got up and made the copies (I was just so grateful to have a seat at the table). It wasn’t until later that I realized every man at the table had two legs and a pointer finger and could have made the copies themselves.
That’s the sad news. But here’s the good news and the reason I wanted to write this post. Many of us women have bad examples of times when we’ve experienced sexism, but we also have stories of care and deference from men who have been gifted with supernatural empathy and who are humble enough to be wise. I have several of these men in my life and I wanted to take a moment to say, thank you.
Thank you for deferring to me in meetings and fighting for me to have a voice. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to fail and come back from it. Thank you for the times you’ve come to me seeking advice (and not just on issues related to women). Thank you for asking me to read your sermon notes and listening to my critiques. Thank you for acknowledging my work as pastoral and ministerial. Thank you for looking me in the eyes and not being afraid to speak to me. Thank you for being my friend and ally in ministry. Thank you for challenging me and encouraging me to grow.
Thank you for thinking I was worth the investment and not overlooking me because you assumed I might get married, have kids, and quit my job.
Thank you to the men who want to care for women well. Thank you for not giving up and not giving in. Thank you for seeking to discover your blind spots and for taking a risk by betting on me. You give me hope—hope that your example will encourage transformation in other men.
I once experienced a man repenting for mistreating me and not listening to my advice. It was one of the most healing and restoring experiences of my life—because the repentance wasn’t just words. I got to witness his transformation first-hand in the way he treated me after and I’ll never forget how awed I was at how God worked in his life.
While sadly I have more wounding experiences (and hear regularly from my female friends in ministry of their own painful experiences), I am grateful to have tasted the healing, empowering, and life-giving relationships between men and women who are co-laboring towards a common goal: the goal of sharing the love of Christ with all people.
This letter is a word of hope—hope for final restoration and renewal in our present age.