Fueling the Fire

img_8835We have curious kids.

I mean, they are off-the-charts inquisitive. I have no idea if it’s normal or not for kids to be this curious, but I can testify that it’s wildly normal in our house. Woe to the parent to tries to communicate in hushed tones, only to be treated to a chorus of “what was that?”s.

The other day, I was running some errands with our 10 year old daughter Gracie as my copilot. And, at a stoplight, she stopped me short with this little zinger:

“Dad, why are you so passionate about men and women being equal?”

As I affirmed the heck out of her question, I considered my answer. And, truth be told, I could think of like 7 ways to respond to her question. There are lots of things that fuel my fire, many of which I’ve talked about on this blog over the years.

But instead of going through my laundry list, I told her this story:

When I was a young(er) campus minister, I was pastoring a large community of students at our alma mater, Cal Poly SLO. And one of the characteristics of our fellowship was that we were decidedly egalitarian. That is, our conviction was that men and women were both gifted and called to serve in the Kingdom in any and all capacities.

One year, my wife Amy was leading a small group with a male student, and it was a mentoring arrangement. The idea was to develop this student by having him apprentice with a staff worker, and Amy got the call to lead.

And she did a great job. Want proof? At the end of the year, as they debriefed their time together, this student said to Amy, “I’ve grown more this year under your leadership than any other year in my life as a Christian. Thank you.”

Pretty cool, yes?

Of course, you’re waiting for the “but,” and here it comes. The next fall, so maybe two months later, this student joined a group at a local church that advocated a strong complementarian theology. In other words, this student began to hear that the Bible restricts the leadership roles available to women to more supportive functions.

Over some time, this student came to embrace and own this more conservative theological perspective. And when that happened, he naturally began to feel dissonant being a leader in a community that affirmed women preaching, discipling men, leading teams, etc, etc.

And that dissonance eventually resulted in a meeting with me, the campus director. Over the course of an hour, we talked about his new-found approach to the Scriptures, and we talked about the impossibility of him holding that theology with integrity, while serving within a community whose practice communicated the opposite conviction.

Finally, I popped the question I’d been holding since the meeting began. Here’s what I asked him:

“So I know what you told Amy at the end of last year, that you had grown more under her leadership than ever before in your life as a Christian. In light of how you are holding the Scriptures now, how are you thinking about that statement?

You ready?

Here’s what he said:

“That was God using Amy in spite of her disobedience.”

……..and so I punched him in the face.

Just kidding.

(but I really wanted to)

What fuels my fire? Lots of things. I honestly believe that fidelity to Scripture calls us to gender equality. Personally, I have benefitted from the leadership of women time and again. And I genuinely believe that the mission of God will advance more effectively if we can figure out a way for women and men to function as equal and reconciled partners in mission. And I could go on.

But here’s another reason:

My wife is a gifted minister of the Gospel, and how dare anyone call her disobedient for obeying God’s call in her life?!?

So what fuels me? The drive to do everything I can to create a church where all women, including today’s curious little girls and their mothers, are invited to use their all of their gifts to advance the Kingdom of God.

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5 responses to “Fueling the Fire”

  1. Marg says :

    I wanted to punch him in the face too when I read his response! I’m fuming over here.

    What judgemental arrogance! It’s very sad.

  2. Kim says :

    The younh man reminds me of the term, “sheeple.”

    Great article Rob

  3. Teresa says :

    Hi Rob,

    I served in the Cal Poly InterVarsity fellowship, and after coming out of a background of Patriarchy (and holding.my.ground. in knowing it’s truth) to being completely convinced otherwise and feeling God’s call to have me lead, to having a Bible study co-leader leave the fellowship because he could not reconcile leading with a women while teaching men, and thus, leaving a woman to lead alone, I cannot possibly convey what it means to have you as a passionate advocate. I have no words except thank you.

    • rdixon1365 says :

      Thanks so much Teresa. Thanks for sharing your story, which is simultaneously hard to read and incredibly uplifting! Blessings on you and your ministry as you continue to follow Jesus’ call to LEAD!

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