Women pastors deserve the same honor and respect that we give to male pastors, but they don’t always receive it.
I think this is a subconscious mindset, but even in egalitarian churches and denominations that permit women to lead at any capacity, women leaders are still treated differently.
(Disclaimer: Yes I realize that many of you are in complementarian churches that don’t even allow women to speak, and I grieve for that and pray for change, but I tend to run in egalitarian circles because that’s more where I’m called by God to be)
Today I’d like to share some experiences of my own to shed some light on how sometimes women pastors are not treated the same as male pastors. If you are also a woman leader, I would encourage you to share your own stories in the comments below.
As a woman pastor, many times when people visit my church, I am met with people asking me, “Are you the pastor’s wife?”
Now quite obviously these people do not deserve to be met with animosity when they ask a simple question, that to them was quite innocent.
I prayed about this because it’s something I encounter quite frequently, and God prompted me to be gentle in my answer, but also speak up so that I can help break this thought pattern in the Church.
Now, when someone asks me “Are you the pastor’s wife?” I simply answer, “No, I’m the pastor also.” This sends a clear message, but it’s still kind, especially if I say it with a gentle smile.
Ever since I began doing this, most people begin to apologize because they are feeling embarrassed, and I reassure them that they haven’t done anything wrong. It’s a mindset that most people don’t realize they have, subconsciously.
In my situation personally, my husband and I both function as pastors. We both lead in different ways, but we both have the title of “pastor”. It is not uncommon for us to be introduced as “Pastor <husband’s name> and Amber”.
Some people, just legitimately do not understand the english language well enough to know that isn’t the proper way to address us. It would be grammatically correct to say “Pastors Amber and <husband’s name>”. Obviously our names could go in either order.
I don’t tell this story because I want any pats on my back or sympathy. I have the most amazing, respectful, honoring, and beautiful congregation I’ve ever had the chance to love. Their honor towards me is abundantly more than I deserve. We are surrounded by supportive and amazing egalitarian leaders and congregation members. I am a blessed woman pastor that feels supported and immensely loved.
I tell my unique perspective and experience because if the Body of Christ doesn’t realize we’re treating women pastors (and leaders) this way, even if their intent wasn’t intentionally malicious, then we can’t be a part of correcting the problem.
Let’s be intentional about respecting our women leaders and treating them like credible, competent people.