The Failure of Ministry: Character Flaws Unique to Women (by Megan & Barbara)
Below is an extract from a comment made by Martin on the blog. (The full comment can be found here.)
Churches don’t fail in mission or function because of gender. They fail because of character. When it comes to character, both men and women have manifold, and unique, character flaws in the Bible. Being a man, I will illustrate from a position of authority with male issues. Men entering ministry often become merciless tyrants because they are unaware of man’s revealed nature to be lustful, power hungry, and driven by money [Just think Adam (apple), Noah (vineyard), Abraham (Terah), David (Bath-Sheba), Solomon (700 wives), and these were just a few good men]. Being a man, I strive always to be aware of MY unavoidable character flaws. The unrestrained fallen character of man in churches may be one of the biggest reasons for the existence of this blog or ministry.
Women entering any kind of ministry also have their own unique set of character flaws revealed in Scripture to be aware of and manage. Those are best discussed by women, and it is edifying to see the discussions below illustrating uniquely female challenges. So we know any ministry, pastoral or otherwise, will not be blessed should it be run by an ungodly dictator – be they male or female living in unrestrained fallen character. I know of successful and blessed ministries run by Godly leaders – both male and female.
We (Megan C and Barbara) found this wise and interesting. We both wondered what our female readers would consider unique character flaws to women – sort of “default” traits we females have, left unchecked. To where do our hearts wander if we are not careful – and what difficulties do those traits pose for women in leadership positions?
In this post, we do not intend to debate whether women may or may not be pastors. We are just pondering the idea that the flawed and fallen characters of human beings express differently for men than for women (speaking only in generalities, of course) and these differences may give rise to typically different sets of problems for women in leadership than for men in leadership. We are referring to leadership in a broad sense: everything from para-church groups, mission organizations, music ministries, educational, writing and blogging ministries, etc., the many different ways that Christians can be active for the kingdom.
Admiring Martin’s humility in speaking of his gender, we thought about what are considered poor common character traits of women – jealousy? a competitive spirit? cattiness? emotional dependency/fragility? being focused on personal relationships at the expense of big-picture objectivity and reason?
For women entering any kind of ministry, what are the unique set of character flaws revealed in Scripture that they need to be aware of and manage? If Martin is right, and Scripture shows man’s revealed nature to be lustful, power hungry, and driven by money, what does Scripture show about women? And since Martin confined his examples to particular male characters in the Bible – Adam (apple), Noah (vineyard), Abraham (Terah), David (Bath-Sheba), Solomon (700 wives) – we decided to do the same and confine our examples to particular female characters.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her (Gen. 3:1-6)
To what was the serpent speaking? Perhaps to induce a sense of inadequacy . . . insecurity, in Eve. Stirring up a new fear in the beautiful, previously unflawed, perfect woman . . . helping to create flaws that are NOT unconquerable, but certainly challenging.
“You are not enough on your own, Eve. You need this fruit to make you better, to make you wise. Look at how you lack wisdom: you couldn’t quite remember what God had told you! God didn’t tell you ‘you shall surely die’ by eating that fruit. You got it wrong, Eve; you’re really a little bit – dippy. You need that fruit, Eve; you need the wisdom it will give you! Then you will be enough. You will be adequate and secure. Just take it. It’s good food, it’s beautiful to look at, and once it makes you wise, you will be better able to love and help Adam!”
After the Fall, God told Eve “Your desire shall be for your husband” (Gen. 3:16), a text that we believe has been gravely misconstrued to say that women are always desiring to usurp the authority of men, as if women are driven by a sick compulsion to be shrews and harridans. We believe the text actually speaks to the yearning of women to be loved, protected and cared for by their men, a desire that is so strong that it can lead to women clinging in hopeful longing even to men who mistreat them.
Maybe a sense of inadequacy is what drove Sarai to seek offspring through her maidservant Hagar, then blame Abraham when it started to cause problems, and finally cast Hagar out (“she is more adequate than me; I can’t bear it”). Maybe insecurity drove Lot’s wife to look back (“I am losing my home, my security”). Esther was not sure if she could accomplish what was being asked of her; Michal was afraid of what others would think.
Perhaps these two traits (a sense of inadequacy and insecurity) can and will be a driving force to women, left unmastered. The devastation these traits have upon a ministry is incalculable. Perhaps one of the fruits of the flesh that grows when a woman does not master these traits may be the tendency to think that every that time she has a little waft of emotion, wishful optimism or imagination, it is “a word from the Lord.” Or are we going too far here by calling this a female trait? Maybe men can err into false prophesy just as easily as women?
What do our female readers think? What traits do you believe are common to our gender that would cause the mishap of mission or ministry? And to our male readers: we are happy to hear from you too – you may shed light on things we cannot see or haven’t thought of.