I’m not trying to be offensive, but it’s true! It’s a big deal to have a woman there for girls in youth ministry and there aren’t many of them. So many times at youth minister conferences/youth minister get-togethers/meetings, I am the only woman. Maybe it’s because for a long time women haven’t been given real leadership in the church as a whole, but it seems like that’s changed and has been changed long enough for women to start to rise to the surface. This isn’t a case for women being given leadership in the church, because that’s been done–this is a plea for women to step up in youth ministry and be the pastor/mothers they were made to be for the sake of the girls there who need someone to simply look to.
Again, I’m not blaming anyone/complaining. I’m saying, “[Darn] it, friends, be intentional about putting a woman in leadership,” and “For God’s sake, women, when you’re put in leadership, don’t ask permission to lead if God’s called you to do it or you just know you should do it.”
Practically speaking, it’s amazing in the ministry I’m currently in to see women get REALLY excited at the very mention of girls’ ministry after a long time in this church without a woman on staff. I met with a bunch of moms to discuss their children and the conversation–whether it started out with sunday school, or worship, or the culture the youth live in–kept going back to, “Now, back to the subject of girls’ ministry.” And, at the very mention of a girls’ get-together, the high school girls were SO excited and coming up with great ideas and I simply said, “Yeah, you head that up and let’s do it.”
Why is this so essential?
…because, though I have had SO many men in my life who are some of my greatest teacher, there is simply a wall that falls down when I’m talking to a woman about something I’m struggling with/trying to figure out/etc….
…because I believe I am who I am because of my grandmother’s everyday strength, my mother’s chutzpah, my teacher’s intelligence, my youth intern’s counseling and empathy, a community leader’s faithfulness, a friend’s accountability and dedication to children in Guatemala
… because I know the saying is true: “What I do not see, I do not know.”
If girls/young women/grown women don’t see women in leadership, there’s a subtle message that says, “women don’t lead.” If we only speak of the goodness of women in leadership and there are no women in leadership, then we send mixed messages/we don’t flesh out what we are saying.
I guess what I’m saying is that just being there–simply being in leadership and leading is enough. You don’t have to be amazing at everyone, just lead and let girls see you lead as who you are and be there for them (WHETHER YOU’RE PAID OR NOT). It’s a big deal.
So, I’m not trying to be cute or clever or anything, but…
more ovaries in youth ministry please!
(Thank heaven for Phyllis Tickle and Kenda Dean right now, btw!)
Becca Griffin is currently living in Birmingham, AL, back in youth ministry after a year-and-a-half away from it and organized religion, which offers a bit of a different perspective perhaps. She formerly worked at a non-profit called SIFAT (Servants in Faith & Technology), which awakened care for agriculture, rock climbing, and sustainable community development. Her blog is hummusisgood.blogspot.com, where she is currently obsessed with interviewing the students she lives alongside and the people in her world.