Category Archives: Leadership

Wake up, Deborah!

And God gave them judge-leaders. Whenever God raised up a judge-leader among them, God was with them and saved the people from the hands of their enemies.
Judges 2:16.18

Deborah, a prophet, was the judge-leader of Israel at that time. Judges 4:4

Yesterday I preached on the story of Deborah and Jael. But before I begun, I read the following statements to the congregation and asked them to raise their hands if they recognised the phrase; if they had heard them before, whether spoken explicitly or implied.

1) Women must submit to men, in particular their husbands.

2) Girls must dress modestly to avoid causing men to sin.

3) Women are created for different roles to men: their ultimate calling is to serve their families by keeping things clean, having supper on the table by six, and, most importantly, making babies.

4) Women can’t preach in church, that is a man’s job.

5) A woman must not have authority over a man.

Our congregation at MCC Newcastle is very diverse, with members coming from various Christian traditions, and yet most of them had heard these statements at some point. Almost everyone raised their hands for points 3 and 5.

Then I asked for those who knew the story of Deborah to raise their hands.

One person.

And that’s when I could feel the anger starting. The good kind of anger, a kind that lent passion, nuance and humour to words I had fairly emotionlessly written earlier. The kind that finally gets it.

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Learning to Cope

Weird things keep happening to me. When something happens to disturb my peace, even something very small indeed, it seems like tears are never far away.

This is very disconcerting. It feels like something has wound up tighter and tighter in me until it has snapped and now I have become “weak”- that is, susceptible to displays to emotion that I cannot quell.

I have not always been like this, not at all. I have been a tough nut. If someone said something that I didn’t like, I reacted in two ways: I got angry, and then I got detached. Both of these reactions made me the stronger person in the situation. My anger allowed me to squash the other person in furious debate, whether it was about homosexuality in the Church with a stranger online, or face-to-face with someone who wanted to do something different to me, or who called me out on something. And then the detachment let me shrug it off – “I don’t care anyway.” I would – quite consciously – leave the situation. I would stop caring.

My anger and my detachment were my go-to coping mechanisms. And they were OLD, going back right the way to preschool and probably further than that. They were the frustrated “giving up” of the small child that could not make herself understood in an unfair world. They made me strong. I found it easy to be a leader using these same mechanisms – without really realising it, it was my way or the highway.

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