A Seat at the Table
A photo going around the internet lately has really been on my mind. Perhaps you’ve seen it? Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is standing at a huge table of men. This isn’t a political post, but this picture is so striking. A lone woman in a sea of men. Old white men wearing white shirts and ties. This same table of men, who are the highest leaders of our country, could easily be a table of men that are the highest leaders of our church. We notice immediately that Speaker Pelosi is the only female. She is pointing at the president. She is boldly calling him out. It is so unusual to see a woman admonishing men, but the reverse would not even be noteworthy.
Half of the people in our nation are female. The elected representatives of all Americans, at the highest level, those that have a seat at the table, are all men. Except one. At lower levels the balance is somewhat better, but at the big table, in “the room where it happens,” there is just one woman. Our elected leaders call themselves “public servants”, but how much service do you feel they do for you?
At the big table for our church, it is all men. Without exception. At lower levels there are some women, but not many, and none with lifetime appointments. Can you imagine this happening at any level in our church: a woman leading and teaching and correcting men? Church leaders always refer to “church service”, and I have seen remarkable service from leaders of both genders at the local level. At the highest levels of leadership, do you feel that service, personally?
In our government, our elected officials are meant to represent us. There cannot be adequate, equitable representation without gender balance. Until women are included at all levels of government, especially at the big table, there won’t be good governance or leadership. Imagine that big table with equal numbers of men and women. Equal female representation, wisdom and lived experience added to the decision making process could be world changing.
Are our church leaders meant to represent us? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. They are meant to lead and guide us. Knowing what we need and want requires knowing us. Until women are included at all levels of church leadership and councils there won’t be the best possible leadership. Can you imagine a stake high council that has six women and six men? Equal female representation, wisdom, and lived experience added to the decision making and inspiration seeking process could be church changing.
Having wives and sisters and daughters is not enough to enable men to represent, lead and guide. Having good intentions is not enough. Thinking that women are magnificent is not enough. Women need seats at the table. The big table that is in the room where it happens.