In this episode, Michael Crawford discusses the importance of training and developing women in our congregations.
Michael Crawford: Hello, my name is Michael Crawford, state director of missions, and we are at the Annual Meeting, 2019 November. And I’m with my good friend Eliza. How are you doing today?
Eilza Huie: I’m good. Thanks for having me.
Michael Crawford: Just for those who aren’t familiar with who you are and what you do, why don’t you tell us a little bit about that before we get into the content we want to discuss today?
Eilza Huie: Sure. So I’m the executive director of Life Counseling Center Ministries. It’s a biblical counseling center in the Ellicott City area. Been there since 2009. Yeah, so that’s where I work. I’m married to my husband Ken, and we have three grown children, four now that my son got married in June. So, that’s a little bit about me.
Michael Crawford: You’re picking up the kids.
Eilza Huie: We are, happily.
Michael Crawford: I’m so glad you chose to come in again. We’ve done some podcasts, they’re kind of picking up and it’s always fun to do a podcast with you. I think the things you have to say, the perspectives you share are helpful for men, women and kids, but particularly to pastors and wives and ministry leaders. We were talking a little bit about what we would talk about and I brought up the subject, what pastors should know about the women they shepherd. You kind of jumped on that one. So, why did that interest you?
Eilza Huie: Well, all of your topics are always very practical. And when you sent me a list, I felt like that’s a topic I don’t think I’ve ever heard done on a podcast before or let alone even just in a conversation really. So as a woman, I’m grateful to actually be asked to talk to that because that kind of makes sense, but also just, I think it will be very practical. I hope it will be practical, as most of our times together are.
Michael Crawford: I think I said this in our breakout session today at the annual meeting on raising kids in the midst of ministry, especially in the second session, we broke out of the breakout and talked specifically just to the wives and the mothers. Just to say, a lot of our resources are pointed at the men, if we could just be honest. A lot of our breakouts, a lot of our research, a lot of the products that we develop are for the men. Seminaries classically were for men. Now there’s a lot of women going, which is great. I think it’s awesome. But if we’re honest, it’s been that way. And I think that part of that has been making me think, I think if you’re going to effectively shepherd the church and the church is made up of both men and women, you should know something about the women you’re shepherding.
Michael Crawford: I know for me, when I first started pastoring, everything was about men. I do recall there was this time in my ministry when I planted the church in Baltimore, Freedom Church, where a group of women came to me and they said, “First of all, we just want to applaud you for going after guys and you’re meeting with guys all the time and you have manhood Monday and you’re just always around dudes and you’re pouring into them and your telling them to get jobs and get Jesus and be righteous and be a leader and you’re just raising them up.” And then one gal says, “But what about us?” And right along that time, I actually had to do a retreat with David Jackson. I went away on this retreat and he said, “We need to just be more holistic and open to the Holy Spirit.” And I had that looming in my mind.
Michael Crawford: And he says, “Maybe there’s something that has happened to you recently that God’s trying to get your attention with.” So the exercise was the go to your cabin up at Sky Cross, our BCMD Baptist camp where we do lots of amazing things. I went up there and I locked myself in the room for three hours and I just started reading through the gospels, looking for the role women played in Jesus’ ministry. So I was skipping a lot, but I was finding a lot. And I started getting really convicted, like my ministry doesn’t look like Jesus’ ministry. Where are the women? I mean, I’m very man heavy, which is cool, but it doesn’t look like that. So that started a journey for me to start saying, what does this mean? And I’m by no means where I should be, but I started to realize right there, oops, I’ve got a big chasm here. So it started me on just investigating and talking to ladies and saying, “Hey, what are we missing? What can you see?”
Michael Crawford: So today I want you to help us, especially help pastors. So let’s just start off. What’s one thing pastors should know about the women they shepherd?
Eilza Huie: In some ways, even as I’m listening to you, it’s reminding me of a scenario that I don’t know if it’s ever happened to you, if you’ve been in a situation like that. When I was in grade school, we used to play kickball on the playground, and the kids would line up against the fence and there’d be two captains and the captains would pick the team, the kids from the fence on who they wanted from their team. And there would always be that kid, maybe sometimes it was me, I don’t really remember it being me, but I’m sure it could have been. There was always that kid who was jumping up in the background with their hand raised real high saying, “Pick me, pick me, pick me.” And I think in some ways women can feel that way in the church, that there is a desire for us to be a part of this body.
Eilza Huie: This is our community, this is our faith family. And many times we’re in the background jumping up and down with our hand up in the air saying, “Pick me, pick me.” And I think in some ways, that’s really what I want to share today, is pastor just know that there’s women in your church who really want to be a part of just what it looks like to be really integrated into the life of the church. And if I can say, not just in the childcare ministry or not just playing the piano, which is great because we definitely need men and women in those areas.
Eilza Huie: But I think the thing that I really want to encourage pastors is that we actually want to learn. We want to know theology well. We want to study it. We want to be invested in our own path of growing in our own faith and making that not just a matter of doing a woman’s Bible study, there’s great women’s Bible studies out there, but include us in just the general teaching and training that you would for men because there really is no gender difference as far as learning solid, deep theology. So that’s one thing I would really say is, hey, we’re back here jumping up and down with our hands up saying, “Pick me for the training.”
Michael Crawford: Yeah. You and I have been friends for a long time and we usually don’t have a problem being honest. So let’s be really honest. Why doesn’t that happen more?
Eilza Huie: That’s a good question.
Michael Crawford: Why aren’t women being picked? Why aren’t they being included in basic things like discipleship, leadership development? Why is that happening? What are some things that come to your mind?
Eilza Huie: Well, just a couple of things that come to my mind. There’s probably more reasons, but one is just the essential teaching of male leadership in the church is men being pastors, and that is something just to keep in mind, just because a woman wants to learn theology or study doctrine doesn’t mean she wants to be a pastor. And so I think there’s one sense where there’s that part of it. Another thing that I think does come into play is just a caution, and we see that in good ways, just as we hear the Billy Graham rule of just it’s known in the churches that we’re just not, it’s not a safe or wise thing to be one-on-one with opposite sex, and I think that can almost go too far to where …
Eilza Huie: First Timothy 5 talks about treating older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. But I can’t remember the last time my brother was uncomfortable being in the room with me alone. I mean, we can handle that because we respect who we are to one another. And I think there’s been reasonable or understandable caution based on wanting to maintain purity, but I think sometimes we can take it too far to where it’s just we just don’t want to cross those lines. And so maybe discipling another woman, which I don’t necessarily know that one-on-one discipleship is the wisest, but actually investing in them and in bringing them into conversations or having a one-on-one phone call with them can get a little bit scary because well we don’t want to cross any purity lines or anything like that. And so those two reasons I think come to mind as to why maybe we’ve been pushed aside. I think there can be a real sense where unintentionally women can be viewed as dangerous. And that’s just being completely honest, since you said to be honest here.
Michael Crawford: Yeah, and I would add to that, I think inferior too. I think when you’ve seen something throughout church history and you’ve seen a practice, even though the practice doesn’t have the ideology of inferiority attached to it, when you’ve seen it for decade after decade after decade, if you’re not discerning, it can come with an embodiment of we’re better. God wants men to be pastors and not women because we’re better. No, it’s not because we’re better. It’s just he chose that. You know what I mean? So, it can be a thing to where, well, it’s not only danger, but there’s just things we’re just better at. And the challenge with that, tell me what you think about, the challenge with that can be when we’re talking about things where God hasn’t said it’s because it’s better, it’s just because he’s made a gender choice.
Michael Crawford: But also when we’re talking about things that have nothing to do with gender, like when Jesus said, “Go unto to the world and make disciples.” I would assume we have to make disciples of women too. I’m just assuming since they’re in the world. Right? So the question then becomes, well I mean a man and a woman, they’re both there. They both need to get baptized. They both need to be taught all things he’s commanded. They both need to figure out what their gifts are and where they fit in church and how they serve. But then we’ve seen this disparity, exactly what you’re talking about. So I think there’s some ideology that’s probably unsanctified and there’s probably some emotional stuff that may be unsanctified. And I think we got a deal … if it’s there. I’m not saying it is. Besides just the practice, I think that ideology and emotions drive practice.
Eilza Huie: Yeah. And it’s hard to change. We’re not talking about something that we’re just stepping into right now. Let’s talk about where women fit. We have laid the groundwork to where women fit for many, many years. And yes, some of it is actually based on biblical principle, but I really appreciate what you say about it not necessarily, that it can be about inferiority, that here is a mindset of well a man would be just better for this. And I think we’re starting to see that actually there’s many places where a woman brings a perspective that wouldn’t be there if it were just a bunch of guys figuring out a situation. And that is the beginning of change, and anytime there’s change it gets a little uncomfortable figuring out what that looks like. So, yeah.
Michael Crawford: I think this isn’t something we have done in our church a lot, but we’ve done it a few times and we need to do it more. But just an idea just based on this that’s very practical, because you know I like to be practical. I mean it wouldn’t be bad to identify some women in your church as a pastor that you consider to be godly women.
Eilza Huie: Absolutely.
Michael Crawford: Get them together and say, “Hey, here’s our 2020 vision or our next five year vision. What do you guys think about … What are you seeing from your perspective?”
Eilza Huie: That’s so important.
Michael Crawford: Is there a way that … Are we missing something with the women? Is there this, that? Because I mean, there’s a wisdom in a multitude of counselors, right? All I’m saying is inclusivism. And I think the slippery slope stuff is, I get it, but I’m not a buyer because everything is a slippery slope. Going to Chick-fil-A can be a slippery slope. So I think that could be one practical way.
Eilza Huie: Well it is and that’s really … So where do we start? What do we do? When you begin to realize that the women in your church do you want to be an active part of this faith community, and it’s not just in the little ways that we’re used to in picking the decor or maybe planning a ladies conference, but actually I love what you said about sharing the vision and mission. And when you have planning committees and when you have really important decisions that need to be made, whether it’s in the church or maybe even in situations in the church, to bring women into that and to let them know that their voice really matters to this.
Eilza Huie: I serve in a place where, I’ve actually worked in a Presbyterian church for many years and that’s been an interesting thing as a Baptist serving in a Presbyterian church. One of the things that they have there is this leadership that’s all men. One of the things I’ve seen recently just starting to happen is they will call, sometimes called me in because of my role as the lead of counseling there, called women in to say, “Here’s a situation. Are we missing anything? What can we do to make this a better situation for everybody involved because there’s mixed genders involved? There’s men and women involved. So what do we need to do?” Most of the time, meetings like that have been basically all the male leadership deciding what needs to happen when there’s women involved. Never a woman even asked to consider what would be helpful. What will make this meeting a little bit more comfortable?
Eilza Huie: So I think more and more just including them in decisions that need to be made, getting input, and recognizing that these are valuable voices that bring helpful insight that sometimes is not going to be what men mostly think of. Just like there’s going to be things that I’m not going to think of and I need my brothers to help me think through that as well.
Michael Crawford: Yeah, that’s only one. What are we going to do about all these other ones? So we’re talking about what pastors should know about the women they shepherd and we’re basically saying, “Look, they’re like the kids back there. They’re saying they want to be in the game.” I started thinking about this with church planting because that’s my position. I’ve come to the conclusion that women should plant churches, and that can be controversial. I don’t know, it shouldn’t get me fired, but maybe it will because I’m actually reading the Bible and I’m actually drawing the lines where God says to draw the lines, not where we’re scared of slippery sloping. The reason why I only say that is because when I read the book of Acts, I see that at least two of the churches that were planted-
Eilza Huie: Were in the houses of women.
Michael Crawford: Yeah. And we’re catalyzed by women. And we actually in the Southern Baptist, we have a one or two church planning catalysts that are women. So I love that because, and it’s not about like, hey, we need to catch up to the world and their tenure. I don’t care about that. That’s worldly stuff. I’m just about what does the word say? But to your point, I love the fact that there are a lot of women going to seminary now and a lot of seminaries are accepting. There was a time when they wouldn’t expect women. And they’re like, yeah, theology’s for disciples, men or women. And I like that idea of saying, “Hey, we’re going to look at every single person in our church and ask them, what gift has God given you?” We already have the guidelines.
Michael Crawford: So if someone says, “God’s given me the gift to say that Jesus is not God,” well we know that’s not a gift, right? Because Jesus is God. Why are we afraid of that? We just know that. So, I really think that’s an amazing thing. What about though, let’s go a little bit farther into gender though. What should pastors know about the women they’re shepherding? How is it different to shepherd a man from a woman? What are some of the differences pastors need to be aware of?
Eilza Huie: Yeah, that’s a good question. And I think in some ways, part of me wants to push against that. I’ll just be completely honest. Part of me wants to say, “Let’s not make divisions in that and begin to see us more as just the body, brothers and sisters.” But on the other hand, there are differences. There’s very clear differences. And sometimes it’s going to be in gender and sometimes it’s just going to be in personality. I mean, I have female friends who are more like my male friends in the way they think, and so it just depends. But I do think that women do bring an emotional awareness and intuitiveness that maybe the guys sometimes miss. It doesn’t mean that guys don’t have that, but I think in certain situations there’s just a sense of, you know what, trust me on this one kind of a thing.
Eilza Huie: And that that can be hard, especially for more analytical thinking brains, like a lot of times guys have. But that’s the value of the difference is I need those analytical thoughts and that analytical direction, and my brothers need that emotional connection and that relational depth that I’m always in tune with a lot more than maybe some of my guy friends or my brothers in Christ. And it doesn’t mean that there’s never, because I don’t like to completely stereotype people, but I think we see that. We see women being a little bit more intuitive, a little bit more relationally inclined, and a little bit more just aware of what it looks like to really engage the deeper sticky places of emotions that guys tend to go around.
Michael Crawford: Yeah, and I really like what you said because you draw out one, ecclesiology which the church is a body. And I recently preached a sermon where the thesis was the church is where everyone has a place, everyone plays a part and everyone has a purpose. And if we say everyone, that means men and women. And what you’re saying is women, you’re saying to pastors, correct me if I’m wrong, women have a place in the church. They play a part. Some of them personality-wise, they’re not so distinguishable from maybe some men in the way they perceive and process and do relationships emotionally, but some of them are and they definitely have a purpose. But I also like the fact that there is something for most women and most men where there is a difference in how we’re approaching things. It doesn’t make us deficient. It’s just different.
Eilza Huie: Here’s a story to give you an example of that. So I was working with a pastor and situation where a husband and wife, there was some abusive situations there going on. He was being abusive to the wife and the wife was very intimidated by him, and they were asked to come in to talk to the pastor. And the pastor, I felt like this, and I really commended him for this because he asked me. He said, “What can I do to make this meeting more comfortable for her?” First of all, I said, “The fact that you asked that question right there is already making the meeting more comfortable for her.” But one of the things that I said was the way these chairs are set up in here, he has his chair that he just wheels over to the little couch and more comfortable chairs where they would sit. And I’ve been in meetings with him before and he would just wheel his chair up there, but the problem was his chair sits about three or four inches higher than the other chairs.
Eilza Huie: And I just told him, I said, “The best thing you can do is sit in a chair equal to her, level with her.” And he was like, “Oh, I didn’t even think about that.” How many times had he sat across a room, whether it’s a situation like that where somebody had been intimidated and been in situations where they were abused or even just the fact that he brings a certain amount of power into the room because he’s their pastor and it feels like that even more when you’re sitting in a chair about three inches higher. Now, is that something that has ever been brought up to him before? No. Did it take a woman? Yes. Could it have taken a man? Maybe, but I don’t think so. Those are just the little things that are just like, you know what, as a woman, we have felt the power that comes from a man’s presence and especially if you’re sitting three or four inches higher than me when we’re having a very serious conversation.
Eilza Huie: So those little things can be valuable. You really can’t underestimate how just a little something like that really helps you care better as a pastor for the women that you’re shepherding.
Michael Crawford: Yeah. I remember my daughter went running in our neighborhood one time and a car was following her. It was very traumatic. She came and she said, “I’m never going to run in our neighborhood again.” And she said, “You guys don’t understand as men that we’re always vulnerable because men are generally stronger than us. So you guys can just, you don’t think about your privilege of being a man that you, there’s just things you do.” And at first I was like, “This is some feminist nonsense. What are you talking about?” But when I stopped to think about it, what I saw was the gospel. I saw Jesus as God emptying himself, becoming extremely vulnerable, spit upon, losing all the privileges. Can I not call a thousand, a legion of angels? And I started realizing, no, there really is because I’ve never, in my mind, I’ve never worried about going out for a jog that something might happen to me.
Eilza Huie: Right, exactly.
Michael Crawford: And then I was involved in a domestic abuse case and I was supporting a sister. I saw her in the courtroom and her partner came in and he had been physically abusive. And they brought him in and he wasn’t in chains, like totally chained. He had some flexibility. And they stood him right next to her as the judge addressed him. And I saw how uncomfortable she was and there was nothing between them. And I turned to my friend and I said, “This is not” … but I would have never seen that had my daughter hadn’t said, “Dad, you don’t realize you’re six foot two, 230 pounds. You look big and strong. Probably 99% of the people who’ve thought about messing with you don’t because of your physical stature.” She’s like, “Me, I’m five two. I weigh 110 pounds and nobody respects me because I’m little.”
Eilza Huie: Yeah. Yeah. And there’s numerous ways that I think the church can be better at caring for one another by, and that’s when you asked what the differences are, by seeing what other people see, like seeing as pastors what the women see through the eyes of a woman really, not through the eyes of a man. So there’s just a lot of value to be gained in just, like I said, the fact that he asked that question, what can I do to make this more comfortable, to me is the beginning of a real win situation. And he’s asking a woman what would make a woman feel more comfortable in this situation.
Eilza Huie: But another thing is really just including us not just in the decisions and the conversations, but I can’t tell you through the years the different times where the churches I’ve been in, we’d go to different conferences, big conferences that are really equipping conferences and training. And it would be a group of guys who would go. The men who are looked at as leaders or small group leaders or whatever that is, which is great, but the women wouldn’t be included or sometimes the wife could come along, but equip them and pay for that equipping. Bring them along and say, “Hey, I’ve got a ticket for you at this conference and we want you to go and we want you to get the training,” because what that says is we feel that you have value to bring and we want to continue to increase that value through equipping.
Michael Crawford: Yeah, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Those are practical, practical things. I think the overall theme of what we’re talking about today, what should pastors know about the women they shepherd, if a woman’s in your church, there’s a high likelihood she wants to be there and she loves Jesus and she has gifts and eyes and ears and perspective and she wants the church to thrive. She wants people to get saved, get baptized. She wants to see the church plant churches. She wants to do Titus 2. She wants to see men raised up. And she just wants to find her place and her part and have a purpose.
Eilza Huie: Absolutely. Yep.
Michael Crawford: Well, it’s always great for you to come in. Eliza Huie, thank you for joining us today.
Eilza Huie: You’re welcome. It’s a privilege.