One Aspect of Male Privilege Actually Surprised Me When I Became a Pastor

After reading Dr. Jeremiah Gibbs’ excellent post on “Women Pastors and Male Privilege”, I was compelled to add one additional category to his list of the ways male privilege is manifested in this setting.

I have been surprised at the number of people who question my role in counseling male congregants. In the almost 30 years my husband has served as a pastor, I cannot recall anyone questioning whether he should offer pastoral counsel to the women in our churches. There have, of course, been seminars and workshops on setting appropriate boundaries, and I agree completely. But there was never a suggestion that he should pass along the women who came to him for prayer or advice to a female counselor. Since we started co-pastoring together in 2009, I’ve had numerous people advise me to refer male members to my husband, even though they have come to me and not him. Interestingly, even though we are now tag-team pastors, no one has yet to say he should send the women to me.

Adding to my surprise at this attitude is the fact that it has not occurred in any other setting. When I served as principal at a Christian school and also while on the faculty at a Bible college where I was responsible for the spiritual formation program for our students, my ability to meet with and counsel fathers and male students was never questioned. In fact, I was the one who had to insist that windows were built into my office doors in both settings.

I’ve never heard a discussion about whether a female therapist should take on male clients. Why the church has such a hang-up on this has taken me aback.

Welcome to the table …

The table – It can be used for meals, meetings, games, conversation, counsel or even as a make-shift writing spot for those like me who cannot always find the top of their desk (or just prefer to head out to a coffeeshop to write). It is my hope that this blog will serve as a table where we can gather for each of these purposes. So, here are the kinds of things I’ll be posting:

Meals – We all need nourishment for our minds, our bodies and our souls. Through music, art, devotions and challenges to our thinking, may we all be well nourished.

Meetings – I am a certified Grip-Birkman coach and have a passion to help people discover their gifts, personalities, intellectual styles, and occupational motivations. I particularly like to hold team-building seminars and foster appreciation for the fact that an effective team requires people with different ways of thinking and doing. See more at www.gripbirkman.com.

Counsel – Life is messy. Why pretend it’s not? I am a pastor who avoids the idea that there are quick fixes to tough problems; no one here will be told to “just get over it.” Instead, you’ll find links to resources and good advice from others who have been where you are. Those who are suffering and those who are overcoming are welcome to this table to share their life experiences.

Games – We all just need to have fun sometimes. “A merry heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). You’ll find healthy doses of humor here.

Conversation – I believe the best solutions come when we do life in community. Whether we’re looking for answers to global problems, theological debates, or just day-to-day conundrums, we’ll take a look at varying opinions and develop an ear to really listen and hear what others think and feel about the issues at hand. Open-mindedness and civility will be part of our core values, but that doesn’t mean we’ll tip-toe around the issues.

Writing desk“Lisa Womble writes hope-inspiring true stories that draw people closer to God and closer to each other.” This was my answer when instructed to draft a one-sentence mantra to keep me focused on the primary goal of my writing. I’m currently working on a book about my friend who is in witness protection. I will be sharing excerpts and reporting on my progress here. It is a powerful story of transformation. But not all stories have to be this dramatic to be powerful. Story sharing is a great way to get to know each other and my aim for this blog is to create a space where we come together to share our stories.

If you want to be understood, tell your story.                                                                                                                                      If you want to understand others, listen to theirs.