Welcome to “This is What a Leader Looks Like”, a series adapted from an interview project conducted by Naomi Hall. Naomi recently served as a student intern with the Center for Transformation Leadership, a joint endeavor of the Free Methodist Church and Azusa Pacific University. Today’s interview is with Janette Ok, a Teaching Pastor at Ekko Church and Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, New Testament at Azusa Pacific Seminary. She writes “In the fifth grade, I attended a camp for Korean-American youth. At the end of the camp, I received a “paper plate” award that read, ‘Janette is bound to become a Sae Jong camp counselor someday due to her leadership abilities.’ That was the first time I saw myself a leader and, ever since, I have tried to discover what it meant to be a great one.”
The Junia Project recently published an article written by my wife entitled, A Day in the Life of a Female Pastor.
The unfortunate reality for my wife and many other women who live with a burning passion for and calling to ministry, is that they have been told by some (mostly men) that the Bible frowns upon or even forbids women to serve as pastors/clergy.
The point of this post is not to address all of those issues, which have been batted around and debated for years. Personally, I still can’t believe that with all the pain, brokenness, disillusionment and despair in the world, there are people who think it’s a good and biblical idea to prevent one half of humanity from serving and giving themselves to its healing and wholeness.
But I digress.
So let me just share with you what my wife, a female pastor, did on the day her post was published and let that speak for itself.
There is a phrase that continues to be repeated by those in leadership when asked how local churches might be encouraged to be more open to having a female pastor. This phrase is “If we have exceptional female pastors to point to, other churches will consider hiring a female pastor.”
At first observation this phrase seems supportive and maybe even a little bit like common sense. If you see an exceptional pastor, why wouldn’t you want that for yourself and your church?
Only, what happens when a female pastor is not exceptional? Should a woman’s merits, talent, gifts, or even her chemistry with a specific congregation be used as a plumb line by which all other women in ministry are measured? Are the only women capable of being great pastors those viewed as “exceptional”?