I’d like to start out by saying that, while this is my personal blog, I know the lines between regular person with an opinion and pastor of a church are kind of blurry. So, while I am writing about politics today, I’d like to be sure to note at the beginning that I am not endorsing a party or a candidate, and also to say there are many lovely and faithful members of my faith community with various political persuasions.
But . . . everybody keeps calling, emailing, texting . . . asking me what I think about the Republicans’ choice of Sarah Palin for their vice presidential nominee. Thus, here I offer my somewhat disorganized thoughts on the matter, aware that everyone is asking my opinion because I happen to be a woman in a leadership role largely dominated by men. (What??!? Not because they are dying to hear my astute political analysis??!?).
When I first heard the news that Sarah Palin was named VP nominee I, like everyone else in my world, said, “Who?” Nevertheless, I immediately emailed a friend who works in that realm to say I thought it was a gutsy move. Whether you like Hillary or not, I think all of us know there are many gifted female leaders who would do just fine leading our country. We know this, of course, because we all have women in our lives who are exceptional leaders.
Yet, (and I am aware that some may disagree with me here), I really think that these exceptional female leaders we all know and love are exceptional in their leadership capabilities largely despite their gender.
In other words, in my opinion, whether or not you’re an excellent leader is largely unrelated to whether or not you wear pantyhose.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to pursue pastoral leadership even though I am a woman, but, really, after awhile it all gets a little tiring. I’ve come to realize that, while I do support women in ministry (duh!) my passion is more about finding and nurturing and working with excellent leaders, no matter what their gender.
Some of the brightest and best young ministers I know are women.
So I don’t really care whether you wear lipstick or not. If you want to be a pastor I’d rather know: Do you love Jesus? Does Gospel community make your heart sing? Do you have dreams for the transformation of our lives and our world? Do you honestly grapple with questions of life and faith? Do you try your best to love people?
Anyone who has been to a pastors’ meeting lately can tell you that there are some scary people in our profession, many of whom should not be in leadership roles. Some of those scary pastors are men; and some are women.
In other words, gender doesn’t determine ability to lead, in my humble opinion.
This is not to say that the road is evenly paved for everyone. To be a woman in leadership, no doubt, takes a commitment to excellence and some peace with the realization that you’ll be watched closely and probably held to a higher standard than your male counterparts. But that’s just part of life, isn’t it? And what’s so bad about being held to a standard of excellence? It might not be fair, but in the end you’ll be a better leader.
No, I’d prefer to forget the whole gender thing this election and judge our candidates not by their skin color or lipstick shade but by the positions they take; the policies they espouse; their commitment to values we hold dear; their ability and dedication to making our country a better place for everyone.
I don’t want to be a good woman pastor; I just want to be a good pastor period. And whomever we vote into office this November, I hope they end up there because they’ll lead our country with courage and conviction . . . not because they have cute hair. Didn’t someone once say: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. . . “?
So, to John and Sarah, Barack and Joe . . . please know I’m hoping we’ll all be looking a little deeper than skin color or gender this election. If you can be the kind of visionary and courageous leaders our country needs, then I don’t really care if you’re beautiful in high heels or not.