Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On the Soap Box With Pastor Deanna


I know I have been kind of MIA. As some of you know I received a promotion/transfer at my secular workplace. I have been in constant training mode and moving into my new office. It has been nice. To be completely honest, it has been a nice diversion. My heart is so heavy right now. Not in a bad way- in a “stirred” way. I have been reading a lot of blogs lately and Pastor Deanna Shrodes has really got my attention these days. Her post entitled “It Shouldn’t Take Courage” has “fired me up.”

Some of you are aware of my current “in-between” status right now. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, trust me, it is the weirdest place I’ve ever been (figuratively speaking). I am a southern girl at heart. Though I was born in the UK, I lived there only briefly. My parents moved us to Florida when I was a toddler. So, the first 30 years of my life was lived in Central and South Florida. I have also lived in Tennessee and Alabama. So, there should be no arguments, I am southern through and through! (grin)

Which brings me to my real topic for this post. In the 35 years I lived in the South I encountered many things when I revealed my identity as a Co-Pastor, or Ordained, Licensed Minister. For the most part people were entirely supportive, they were intrigued by a woman doing something that had generally been acknowledged as a “man’s” job. They were even more fascinated when I revealed that my husband and I co-pastored together. Then of course you had those who were small minded and manipulated the Word to propagate that women should not be in a leadership capacity in the church. However, this was really a small percentage- in the SOUTH!

I am now living in the Midwest in a very modern city, or so I thought. However, I seem to have stepped into a “time warp.” I have had every thing about ME questioned since day one because of my gender and because of who I am married to. Here are a few examples:

1.) WORKING: My decision to work outside our home has posed a lot of questions. This BLOWS my mind because most households are two income households now days. I have even been asked what I did before we moved here and before I could spit out an answer, they retorted, “Housewife?” Now, I have no issues with women who choose to stay home and become (imo) “domestic engineers,” but it is the almost blatant disregard of the fact that I could do anything other than be a “housewife”. I have also been told, “My husband would never LET me work because I had kids.” I REALLY wanted to laugh out loud because there have been times in our marriage where I was the bread winner and supported the family while Craig was finishing college or HE was working at home and caring for our little ones. We are and always have been a TEAM!!! I am working outside the home because up until now I worked as Co-Pastor at our church. It was my job! I was not offered a pastoral position here so I decided to get a job elsewhere. I’ve been working in some capacity since I was 15 years old. This IS 2007 for goodness sake!

2.) MINISTRY: I’m just going to leave well enough alone with this one. Trust me, I’ve been questioned!

3.) IDENTITY: For the first ten years of our marriage I went by Tara Denson-Sloan. Yes, I hyphenated my last name. And it had nothing to do with being a feminist or anti-anything! At the time I had a lot of teaching credentials in my maiden name so it was just easier for me. Since then I still carry the “Denson” but more so as a middle name. Anyway, since moving I have not only shed the Denson, but I have also lost my first name. I am now referred to as “Pastor Craig’s wife” or “your wife” (when mentioned to my husband). When some people call my home, despite the fact that it is my voice that greets them on the voicemail the message is, “Pastor Craig, this is so and so,” and their business… no greeting to me, no mention of me. I am also referred to as a “pastor’s wife” in relation to EVERYTHING. I want to scream, “I have a NAME! I have an IDENTITY! You have NO idea who I am!”

In addition, the way I carry myself, the way I greet (or don’t greet people), and my clothing are all “judged.” I’ve been told that what applies to others does NOT apply to me as I am a “pastor’s wife.” No name, no identity, no credit for what I have accomplished in my life, or where I am going. To certain individuals, I’m just Craig’s wife.

4.) PARTNERSHIP: This has been a natural order for Craig and I. Why is it so difficult for everyone else to grasp? Sadly, they just don’t get it! To further this point, what if we were both physicians and we opened a practice? We would be working together, complimenting one another, tag teaming, and meeting the needs of our patients! Sounds like pastoring, huh? It is the SAME principle!

Thankfully I am secure enough in Christ (although I just did a fair bit of whining!) to shrug most of this off. Or I try to anyway. Unfortunately Craig endures the frustration that I express through what can at times become tearful and I’ll admit painful. However, I am learning through this “season.” I have learned that “ignorance” is a dangerous “enemy” in the lives and minds of Christians. I have also realized how very ignorant I have been. I’ve always been aware of “women in ministry” issues but I never really experienced them. So, I have decided to educate myself. I am researching everything I can relating to religious mindsets that would bound women. I want to be an advocate for women who desire to be in ministry roles. My heart is that EVERY woman realize her potential and destiny in Christ!

As the mother of five daughters I will make it a life goal to see each of my daughters have every opportunity possible to become their destiny! Haley (10) recently confided to me that she wants to be a Pastor when she grows up. I love that she can say that! When I was her age, I knew God had called me to ministry but the only women in ministry models I knew of were women missionaries! So naturally I assumed to be in ministry I had to be a missionary! Of course I found many more role models and heroines in ministry as I grew older!

I’m setting out again. I’m tired of having to listen to everyone else’s opinions on who they think I should be. I’ll not be silenced and I refuse to be boxed in! To quote Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

I have been brutally honest in this posting because I cannot stand the lies the enemy has flooded the church with! We get SO caught up in HAVING church that we forget that we ARE the Church! As Pastor Deanna has so eloquently shared, "All that is necessary for gender or racial prejudice to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

So, PD, thanks for the swift kick in the rear! I’m jumping up on the soapbox with you! I’ve got your back sista!

7 comments:

Pastor Deanna said...

Thank you Tara...you always know how to inspire me..........

When I read your writings I feel like I'm reading something I wrote myself, only better! :-)

I'm glad I can be an encourager to you as well and I'm SO GLAD you have not allowed the environment you are in to seep into your spirit but instead, that you have remained confident in who you are and what you can do.

I believe in you more than ever!!!

Pastor Deanna said...

Hey I just blogged about your post at my blog and basically wrote you an open letter........

love you!

Penless Thoughts said...

Sound like you know who you are in Christ so don't pay any heed to the other!
Susan

Pastor L said...

Tara,

I totally understand! I was told once that "if you're in the ministry, it just doesn't work for both spouses to work outside the home." Huh? Who made that rule? And do they expect my husband (since I'm credentialed and he's not!) to sit at home all day and not have a job, just in case I need him for something? Whatever! I'm also discovering the profound truth of "be who you are, and don't let anyone other than God change you!" Keep doing what you do...

Pastor Lisa said...

Would you believe we had two people leave because I'm a woman pastor? Elgin plays the organ, so I pretty much lead the service. They saw this as me running things...not a partnership, not Elgin playing double duty as a pastor and a musician but "his wife" was in charge because I had the mic more and in their minds, that's simply not God.

Never mind the anointing, the Word we ministered...none of that mattered. I was perceived as being the one in charge and they left.

I truly thought this was a Southern mindset. So you're telling me this nutiness exists outside the South? Oh boy.

I don't recall any of this being the case in Los Angeles, but then I wasn't pastoring a church either. I know the PAW has/had women pastors so I never really thought twice about walking in this calling.

Jones 5 said...

Thank you for your honest blogging...I'll be refering back for encouragement! I too worked double duty to get my husband through college (mom, wife, and several jobs)!!!! WE are and have always been a TEAM :) Then one day I decided to stay home with my youngest child and work as part time as possible so that I could spend more time watching soccer games, practices, attend field trips and playgroup...phew! Mom, Wife, and outside job...one day I too, hope to get back into ministry outside the home ;)

Tara Sloan said...

Thanks Jones 5! And to your post on Jesus is a Superhero...That WILL preach! Great analogy! Out of the mouths of babes! Thanks for stopping by Destiny Driven!!!