What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Professional Women
Four things to keep in mind as you prepare your messages
Though nearly 25 percent of credentialed ministers in the Assemblies of God are women, only about 5 percent of those are lead pastors. The vast majority of pastors and those teaching in our services are men. And while there are inherent differences between men and women, there are also some unique things about the lives of professional women that we wish our pastors understood. Here are four:
We Are Often Lonely and Exhausted
Many women spend 40 to 60 hours in the workplace, then come home to begin what some have called the second shift. When it comes to domestic duties, the vast majority of women — professional or otherwise — are carrying a disproportionate share of the load. Women still do more work than men caring for children, preparing meals (including the shopping, preparation and budgeting), and doing the housework. Even if children are not present in the home, the domestic labor still falls primarily to women.
Despite all this, many of us feel guilty, wondering whether we’re devoting enough time to our jobs, our kids, or our aging parents. We could use some grace, encouragement and prayer. The love and support of a church family can make a big difference in our lives.
We Sometimes Feel Like Outsiders
We don’t always fit in well with professional men, but we also cannot relate well to women who primarily work in the home. And stereotypes make matters worse. Not every stay-at-home mom lacks a professional background, and not all women who work hate taking care of their families.
Keep these things in mind as you prepare the illustrations and applications for your message. Use past and present examples of female leaders. Talk about strong women in the Bible, like Deborah. Highlight the contributions of women in the Early Church, like Lydia, Priscilla and Junia, who had roles that were outside of the traditional culture of their day.
We are looking for more than just advice on being wives and mothers.
We Are Not One-Dimensional
Whether we have families or not, we are looking for more than just advice on being wives and mothers. We have diverse backgrounds and interests. Like others in your congregation, we are curious, insightful and well-read. We want depth of scriptural insight, thoughtful analysis and applications that challenge our thinking.
Use both male and female pronouns when talking about leadership roles. Don’t limit descriptions or depictions of women to domestic clichés. Certainly, many of us are wives and moms. Some of us are also corporate leaders, government officials, pastors, surgeons, soldiers and police officers. Through both conversation and collaboration, acknowledge the many societal contributions of women leaders.
We Want to Serve
Pastors, be intentional about asking women to serve on your board, teach classes in their areas of expertise, and offer counsel. Women are increasingly serving as CEOs, leading in industry, and engaging in entrepreneurship. Encourage their gifts by providing service opportunities throughout your church. Look around. If women are only in the nursery, in gatherings with other women, or just providing food, you are missing the gifts of a significant part of your congregation.
Women, like men, are complex human beings who desire nuance in the ways in which we are referenced and included in the community. Often, preachers talk primarily to the men and then leave it up to the women to consider how the sermon applies to our unique perspective. This is a poor communication strategy. Effective speakers are careful to connect with their audience members in the small details as well as in the broad strokes.
Pastor, what professional women wish you knew is that we need you, and we need the Church. We feel called to our work and to our fields of expertise. We want to share out of our giftings. We want to pursue God’s plan for our lives and honor Him as we discover all that He created us to be. We want to grow in our love God and others.
Attention to your audience deepens both what the audience receives and what you are able to give.