Both male and female

Floyd McClung has reached out to the women God brought across his path and championed them in their callings. For more than 20 years, he and his wife, Sally, have discipled women who are now making a difference in the nations. Floyd contributed a chapter to The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church. Here’s a quote from the chapter.

To be clear, I believe leaders can be both male and female. Obviously the church body is comprised of both genders. And certainly, martyrs have been both male and female. Missionaries are both male and female.

But it is important to be more specific, lest we overlook the obvious: both women and men have impacted nations for God because both genders are called by God and both are given leadership gifts.

I believe leadership in the church is not meant to be gender-specific because, at its core, leadership is about service. It is not about an office or position. Leaders don’t serve in order to be leaders; they serve because that’s what leaders do. Leaders serve. Period. When we abandon a hierarchical, worldly view of leadership and consider it from this perspective, we can see that both woman and men can, and already do, use their gifts to serve–that is, lead.

The church worldwide has been shaped, led , and taught by both men and women– starting in the home, and moving into every sphere of church and public life.

SwanJacketfinal

Hierarchy and discipleship

Some of our deepest theological conversations occur in our hot tub.

This past weekend was no exception. Some close missionary friends of ours who work in Asia came to stay. We always have fun  debates with them, Here’s the gist of one of our conversations that took place late at night in our jacuzzi:

Missionary: In Asia, our culture is very hierarchical. This hierarchy spills over into the church and it’s an asset to discipleship because the new believer is looking to learn from someone more experienced.

Me: God loves us enough that in his mercy he uses whatever culture we give him. But Jesus spoke against hierarchy. He said, “You know how the rulers of this world function (hierarchy). But it must not be so amongst you.”

Missionary: In the West, we are so individualistic and egalitarian. But that is not Scriptural either. In Asia, we are more communally and society minded. Because in English, it’s impossible to tell the difference between you singular and you plural, we miss the fact that much of the New Testament is addressed to groups.

Me: Neither hierarchy nor egalitarianism are Scriptural. Jesus spoke about and modeled something different–closer to an upside down hierarchy, Servanthood. We lay down our lives for others that they might grow.

What is your opinion on this? How do we best disciple others–using a teacher/pupil (hierarchical) model, as peers (egalitarian), or as servants? Does it depend on the culture we live in?

Servant leaders?

One day, Jesus' disciples were squabbling over which of them was the greatest. In fact, two brothers, James and John, had persuaded their mother to ask Jesus if they could have privileged positions in his Kingdom. The other disciples were indignant; they wanted those positions for themselves!

Matthew 20:25-28 continues: 

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 

We know how leadership works in the world. It's hierarchical. Whether you're talking about government or the army, industry or education, the world's way of leadership is based on a hierarchical model.

Jesus said we shouldn't do it that way. So what have we done throughout history in the church? We've built a hierarchy–bishops and senior pastors, vicars and denominational superintendents. 

What does it look like for leadership to be servant and slave? Jesus demonstrated it for us when he washed his disciples feet.

Ross Rohde wrote a thought-provoking post on his blog recently (http://bit.ly/fsOAur)

Do we aspire to leadership or servanthood?

Shoe shiner