What adjectives come to mind when you hear that a woman is assertive? Do you think bossy, pushy, domineering and other less than complimentary things? Being an assertive woman, I can attest to the fact that those things can certainly be true of those of us that God has gifted with stronger personalities!
Women have been encouraged to be assertive since the 1960’s when the Women’s Movement really took off. Before long they were burning bra’s along side those guys burning their draft cards. Prior to that generation women were gentle and considered to be passive and submissive. We were silent in our churches and many wore chapel veils or hats and gloves that matched their Sunday handbags.
With the advent of Women’s Lib we were told to assert ourselves and go for jobs that traditionally were only available to men. We were not to let them push us around any more and more than one woman cracked her head on that glass ceiling as she tried to “become” what God did not ordain her to be- manly.
Our calling as women in the church has long been to minister to our husbands and children, and to work in the kitchen and nurseries of our churches. For strong single women, and those who have neither desire or ability to serve in those traditional areas it has long been a difficult road to walk. We are often seen as not knowing “our place” in the church and as being usurpers of the authority God has given to men.
How does a strong woman function in church culture? The answer is, she functions the same as one who is not strongly assertive and confident. Submission to all authority is God-ordained and even strong women must bow the knee to that truth.
God intends us to trust in His plan for our lives, not to be wandering off the path in search of personal fulfillment in places His Word tells us not to go. The wander-lust of the heart and the incredible ability we have to lie to ourselves and convince ourselves that as long as we have “peace” about something it must be from God often brings us to places of heartache and suffering.
There are places of service for assertive women in our churches but they can really only be realized when the leadership of the church is secure and confident in that the teaching from the pulpit accurately portrays the roles of both men and women in the church. I am a complementarian, meaning that I believe men and woman are created equal in the sight and image of God but I believe there are distinctly different and complimentary roles within the church. I minister the gospel to people every day, but I would not do so from a church pulpit. I teach God’s truth both to men and women, but not in context of a church worship service. My role is to compliment the male leadership of the church not usurp it.
Biblical womanhood must be retaught in our churches because so many women have no idea what to do with their talents and abilities and the men often don’t know what to do with us either! Pray for your pastors and leaders that God would give them wisdom and encouragement to teach strongly and biblically in this area!