On Being Faithful to One’s Gifting

mgymnTMIt’s good for me to remember that I’m not the only one challenging Tertullian.

Yesterday, I came across a helpful post by Laura Turner. You might know Laura Turner, but more likely you’ve heard of her parents, as Turner is the daughter of Christian ministers, authors and teachers John and Nancy Ortberg. The Ortbergs come from the Willow Creek church context.

The thing I appreciated about Turner’s post is how she frames the issue of the role of men and women in the church in terms of gifting. As in, if you have a spiritual gift, you are bound before the Lord to put it to work, whatever your gender.

I recommend the whole post here, but to whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt:

“From the outset at Willow Creek, there was nothing being done anywhere in the church that could not or was not being done by a woman. Every Sunday morning I took the thick gray brochure with green embossing and read five names under the “teaching pastor” positions: three men, and two women. One of those women happened to be my mother, which deserves its own separate post–she’s remarkable in ways I cannot even name–but the reality of the situation remained that I was reminded every single week that women were called to follow their gifts, too, and that their gifts weren’t relegated to the domestic sphere and that gifts of leadership and teaching did not require an all-female audience. I never once got the message that women were weaker, more emotional, less able, or needed caring for. I was part of the largest evangelical church in the country, and my dreams for the future were never limited by my gender.

The issue has always been framed, in my experience, in terms of giftedness. If there is a man who is gifted in the areas of hospitality and care, we shouldn’t put him in a preaching position simply because he’s a man. And if there is a woman who is gifted in areas of leading and teaching, then she ought to be leading and she ought to be teaching. Not to do so would to be unfaithful to our Lord.”

I appreciate Turner’s words, but I think I appreciate her story even more. Growing up at Willow Creek, she didn’t encounter the barrier of prescribed gender roles until college. That’s extraordinary.

Oh that my kids, and my girls in particular, would experience that kind of environment as well!

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