“You hit like a girl!”
“You run like a girl!”
Statements like these rang out through playgrounds and schools throughout the world. There was inferiority that was attached to being a girl or a woman. That cloud would follow women into the boardroom, the classroom and even into the church. We are seeing small changes over time but what do you believe will be the shift that creates a big win for women everywhere?
I believe it is important to shed light on this topic because women across the world are still fighting for where there should not have been a fight.
- In 2018 women in Saudi Arabia given the opportunity to drive.
- Spain had a majority of women ministers in their cabinet
- Women broke records in elections
- Women’s votes shifted the elections
- Women in Iran were able to celebrate and watch the World Cup in the stadium seated next to men
We look at this list and are amazed at some of the accomplishments but we are also perplexed as to why it has taken so much much time to get her. A big influence in the progressive gains for women have come women standing up and using their voice. We endured a lot for so long because we were silent about the pain, effects, and fear. Now that women all over the world are becoming more vocal in their core values it has set a higher standard for others.
We will be heard and listened to!
That was why Kierra’s story stood out to me so much. In a time when we see the impact that women are having across the world, it is stories like hers that still need to be shared. It is a voice like her voice that still needs to be heard.
Here is Kierra’s story:
In 2018 I endured a life-changing event when I lost my pastor; the devastation that I felt was only amplified by losing my church as well. After his burial, a meeting was called by one of the highest officials within our district. I will never forget his immense gaze when he locked eyes with me and said: “We have decided to retire the church; the ministry is not at a point where we are comfortable with female pastors.”
I would love to stand before you and tell how my faith brought about my healing, but what actually lead to my healing was finding out that I wasn’t alone. Once I began sharing my experiences, I ran into countless women who confided in me with their own “it happened to me too” stories. I read blogs where women were devastated at how they couldn’t become monks. I viewed discussions where women of Islam addressed how religiously prohibited laws were misused, all in an effort to prevent women from having religious leadership. Confirming that this was not a Christian Faith issue, it was a people of faith issue.
Despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal to discriminate based on sex, some of the major religious bodies such as Jewish Orthodox, Latter-Day Saints, Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, Muslim, Orthodox Church in America, Southern Baptist Convention, and the Roman Catholic Church presently still forbid women from having religious leadership positions. While I am not here to speak negatively about denominations, I am here to share my thoughts on some of the potential ramifications that gender exclusion in religious leadership can have. I am here to help eradicate the religious message that women are not qualified to lead men. I am here to help bring the echoes of “it happened to me too” to an end.
When qualified women are not permitted into church leadership, it can imply that there is something wrong with them; that they are somehow inadequate. This can cause a direct correlation in how they are treated, or even perceived by the opposite sex, but most importantly, it can impact how a woman views her own self-respect. Remember, God created both male and female in his image, meaning that we cannot see the full image of God without looking at both male and female, and the more you suppress the image of women, the more you suppress the image of God.
Societies can be transformed by the inclusion of women in religious leadership. Women can use this platform to discuss “taboo” subjects in the church, such as rape, molestation, abortion, domestic abuse, promiscuity, from a woman’s viewpoint.
Having women in religious leadership positions could have a direct correlation to the gender leadership gap outside of the church as well; this reminds me of an instance where a less qualified male candidate was promoted over me at work. It isn’t the gender bias that stimulates my recollection, but rather a particular conversation that I had with the decision-maker. A conversation where he expressed, he was a deacon at his church, and how he found it disturbing that women would seek higher leadership positions over men. When your ethical principles teach that men are supposed to lead over women, it can correlate over to the business world.
My motto in management never brings me a problem without a solution, so I want to offer one way we can all promote change within our circle of influence.
We must challenge misinterpretations that are often utilized to promote male superiority, such as scripture found in the book of Timothy where it addresses that women are not supposed to lead over men. Many religious leaders apply these texts as the “golden rule”, without acknowledging that these are letters being written from one person to another to address specific situations. Situations such as women not teaching men, because most women were not formally educated at that time. There were great women leaders mentioned throughout the bible. We see Priscilla the religious leader, Deborah the Judge, Huldah the prophet, Phoebe the deacon, Philip’s prophesying daughters, and even Tabitha, who was grieved so heavily when she passed for her good deeds, that Peter prayed and her life was restored. In fact, it was a woman who delivered the first sermon, and two women who shared the gospel message “He has risen.” It is up to us to break these misinterpretations by sharing stories of these phenomenal female leaders not only in the church but outside of the church as well, to help inspire the next Suzan Cook or Joyce Meyer.
I know there maybe some of you present who believe this talk doesn’t pertain to you because you aren’t religious, but religion is integrated into our everyday lives, regardless if you are religious or not. The official Motto for the United States is In God We Trust. It appears on all printed currency, and you know what, you don’t have to be religious to spend it. In fact, I have never handed someone money and had them reply, “I can’t accept that, I’m not religious.” Afghanistan, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Iraq, Samoa, and so many other countries have National Motto’s, or even governing statutes similar to ours that incorporate the word, God. And I can bet your bottom dollar that not all of their citizens are religious. In these circumstances, I believe that God is supposed to be a representation of the connection of humanity. This is not a discussion aimed to draw you into a religious debate, this is discussion aimed to reframe how we view gender equality and overall humanity. A discussion shedding light on how gender exclusion from religious leadership can impact women and leadership outside of the church. A discussion to eradicate the “it happened to me too” conversations centered around gender exclusion in the church.
Kierra Alderman completed her undergraduate studies with a BS Community Health with a concentration in biology, before completing her MHA in Healthcare Administration. She founded website www.bolempowerment.com in an effort to uplift and encourage those who are suppressed. Kierra has served as a licensed Elder and minister since 2014. She holds a Life coach, Mindfulness as well as Six Sigma Black Belt certification. She has authored two books “Revived” and “Bread of Life” and is working to complete her third book “Coronation Day”. Kierra is an advocate for equality and aims to be a voice for those who remain silenced.
Podcast: The Obstacle Overcomer