A while back I was asked to contribute a piece, a lament, on the struggle for women in leadership. I was asked to write my own psalm, a reflection on Psalm 40, which speaks to an ache in David's heart. As I wrote this lament, the words flew off my fingers as I asked God - once again - HOW LONG we would sing this song of injustice, sexism, oppression, and inequality? A few tears even fell for myself, for my daughter, and for all the women in leadership I know who have to fight for their place at the leadership table.
These were the words I wrote. You won't believe what happened after I submitted this lament...
Waiting. No one likes waiting. Maybe least of all me. I’ve waited for my entire life to see your Church reflect your heart to see men and women lead your people. Equally. With skillful hands and integrity of heart [Psalm 78:72]. I’ve waited for your Church to wake up and get it that we have as much to contribute to the Kingdom as men do! I wish your Word was painfully clear about our contribution equality!
Too many times I’ve seen women in the pit of despair because they have not been allowed to use their voice, their gifts, their experiences, their very calling to build the Kingdom. You have not stopped them from leading and teaching, Lord; your people have.
My sisters and I have cried when we’ve been told “no”, “be quiet”, “this is not your place”. We need your rescue, God. We desperately need you to bring good news in places where we are pushed down, snuffed out, and negotiated around. Your Kingdom suffers when we are relegated to roles and ministries and places where we are not gifted or passionate. How long?
Our circumstances may not change, our culture may never fully reflect your heart for your Church, but you never change. You are solid and steady and trustworthy. When your Church may fail me, I can still be amazed by who you are. I will find my hope in who you are, not in an outcome – a promotion or a platform or power. I will receive a new song that you give me and sing to the rooftops of who you are and what you’ve done. I will serve you fully and contribute my best to your Kingdom, even in the midst of broken systems and unjust theology. Give me the courage I need to be faithful today.
How long will we sing this song? When I grieve for what your Church is not yet, I must remember that you are a God of justice and have called ordinary people like me to bring justice on earth as it is in heaven [Matthew 5:10]. Help me not be afraid to speak out and speak for those who do not have a voice.
You have written your calling upon my heart and I will not forsake you. I will take joy in following you no matter what anyone else says. Help me listen to you more and more and follow you obediently. Thank you for my calling, even if it’s not honored among others.
The author who asked for my contribution with this specific piece was thrilled with what I wrote. The publisher was too. The distributor, Lifeway Christian Bookstores, was not.
In fact, Lifeway refused to carry the product with my piece included. REFUSED! My piece was a very small part of the overall project, but they were adamant my piece had to be REMOVED from the project or they wouldn't carry the product.
So it was removed. The author was very upset, but it wasn't his decision. The publisher caved because they couldn't afford Lifeway NOT to carry it. In the end, my piece was axed from the larger project because of money and Lifeway's power.
Even more, this piece rings true in my spirit... HOW LONG will we have to sing this song of injustice, sexism, oppression, and inequality?