How Dare SHE Teach!
| KATIE HALDANE
I know what I am called to do, I know who has anointed me to do it and I am strong in my calling in God so I hesitate in writing this blog as I don’t really want to get involved in the numerous debates around this subject. But for the generations who come after me I thought I would put my thoughts and experiences down on paper (so to speak!).
I am aware of the storm that rages around my calling as a teacher, I am aware that as a female and a single female, in some people’s eyes I have no right and no authority to teach the Word of God. I am allowed to share emotional stories, I can share and preach from The Message Bible but I cannot stand on the pulpit and teach a male member of the congregation.
My upbringing told me I could be anything I wanted to be including ‘Wonder Woman’ (seriously who didn’t want that outfit!). I grew up with grandparents and parents who never told me that I wasn’t supposed to be good at this, they never mentioned that I wasn’t supposed to be able to teach the Word of God like I do. I had pastors that encouraged me to be all God has anointed me to be, there was no word from them of condemnation and ‘redirecting’ of my gifts, only encouragement to follow Christ and His calling on my life. No-one said that my passion for the Word was a waste of time, actually Pastors Phil & Julie Oldfield bought me books to train and equip me in my gift to teach. Pastors Richard & Kate Forsyth released me to teach at Christian Essentials, Pastors Pat & Amanda Antcliff asked me to teach at C3 College, Pastors Jeff and Tracey Berry released me to teach at C3 Avalon, Pastors Phil & Chris Pringle have been nothing but encouraging to who I am and my gifting to teach. And my bosses, Pastors Mark & Bernie Kelsey have only ever encouraged me to ‘go the bold’ when I teach! But I am aware how amazing this is, this is not the norm.
My first encounter with the offense of my calling came when I was a young Youth Pastor I was running a unity event called ‘Coast United’, my idea, my concept, something I initiated and when I spoke at one of the meetings, the new Pastor in the room spoke over the top of me. Every time I opened my mouth, he spoke. It got annoying and super funny until completely frustrated I turned to the Baptist Youth Pastor next to me and said “What am I doing wrong?” he said “You’re female, he believes you have no authority to teach him.” I was shocked and unsure of what to do, so this beautiful and encouraging Baptist minister took over the meeting, made us pair up to pray and put me with him. The new Pastor stormed out. My next encounter was when I was asked to speak at a Night College class, just for one night. I stood up to start the class and an older man up the back said “Are you going to teach us tonight?” I said yes, he answered “How old are you?” With total embarrassment and indignation I said “Oh I really don’t want to answer that in front of the whole class.” He then said “Are you married?” I said “No I’m not!” He then turned to his wife and said “She has no authority to teach us” and he pushed his notes to the side of his desk and sat back in his chair with his arms folded. His questions baffled me, I’m not teaching on marriage, I’m teaching a Bible subject, how does my age, gender or marital status make a difference to my calling to teach? Feeling completely overwhelmed, embarrassed and shocked, I got the attention back from the rest of the class and began teaching. But when I went home I was really cranky, shocked, overwhelmed, truly devastated and frustrated that God had it so wrong in anointing me! I was angry with God that He had not got me married earlier so I wasn’t so offensive to the body of Christ, I had to have that spiritual covering. Then I was angry that I was a female and clearly incorrect in being gifted the way I was.
This was a turning point in my life, do I give up on my passion or do I stand in what God has called me to do, no matter the storm that rages around me? Because the storm is not going to go away, it has been raging on for centuries. Can I teach in the midst of this storm, can I be all God has anointed me to be in the midst of Christians questioning silently and not so silently “How dare SHE teach?”
So I went on a very long and very intentional journey of what the Bible says about women teaching in Church. Do I have to be silent, am I allowed to teach a man, am I allowed to be a teacher of the Word of God without being married? I read peoples opinion on the subject, I watched videos teaching on both sides of the spectrum. I studied and gained as much knowledge as I could about the debate and then I sat down and made my own decision of what I believed. Not from a girl’s perspective, not from a single female’s perspective but from a well-informed, educated Christian’s perspective.
Now my heart in sharing my journey is not to stir hatred, anger, or even frustration in you. It is not for you to pity me or commend me, but my heart is that you know the struggle that we face to do the things God has called us to do and they are very real! Remember that what we are discussing here is really a matter of personal opinion and interpretation of two texts in the Bible. And it impacts peoples culture, it is in their upbringing, it is in their denominations policy and so the decision is theirs alone. My calling is to focus on God and what He has called me to be and let everyone else make their informed decisions around me. I will not lower myself to hatred or even negative banter towards my brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with what I do, because they have every right to have their opinion. Same as I have every right to have mine. They are after all who I’m going to hang out with in heaven, they might even be my neighbour!
But I will say this, be encouraged female teacher, you are not alone, do not be afraid, for there are more with you than against you. Your calling is not a mistake, your anointing is not deception, you have been anointed to teach the Word of God with emotion, power, strength and Godly wisdom. There will be a day when you are just a teacher of the Word of God, not a ‘female teacher’ of the Word of God like it’s new and obscure!
Don’t try and be anyone else but be ‘you’ with all your strength: be as girly, as strong, as wise, as vocal and as passionate as God has anointed you to be. He created you with a brain, He created you with passion, He created you to be strong and feminine all at once. You are not a mistake and neither is your calling, so be bold, be wise, let the storms around you rage but don’t give in to their hatred. Love, forgive and keep your eyes on Him. Focus on Him: the one calling you into your future, the one calling you into all you are meant to be, the great redeemer of all men, women, slave, free, Gentile, Jew, divorced, single, teacher, mother and businessman.
Be bold in who you are, let the storm rage because you know the one who walks on the waves in the midst of the storm!