She doesn’t feel good enough to serve in your church…

“Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them” Hewlett Packard Internal report.

These statistics have been discussed and debated and the reasons why this is true put in question. Is this about confidence, a mistaken perception of the hiring process, or not wanting to waste anyone’s time? What doesn’t seem to be questioned though is whether this is true. Women seem to have huge issues in putting themselves forward for jobs, projects or ideas that they would love to do, but yet worry they are not sufficiently qualified for.

The implications of this research are far spread. But for me I want to apply it into the flourishing of men and women in the church.

I don’t think this just applies to job application forms. Many people feel that they need to be 100% perfect or competent before they offer themselves for a new project, an opportunity or simply an idea they’ve had. But it may also be that they don’t know how to play the rules of the game or rather the ethics of the culture.

Take for example B, a gifted woman. Whenever she prays in church or shares testimony her gifts abound. She points to Christ in a way that teaches me afresh each time. But when I talked with her she said she could never teach, even in a woman to woman setting, why? Because it takes her so long to prepare. She said “surely someone who is really gifted wouldn’t take that long, or be that nervous before delivering a talk”.

In many of our churches we have drifted so far from men and women serving and building up the church together. Maybe one of the reasons is that women don’t feel good enough or skilled enough for God to use us. Not only do they lack confidence, they have no experience in the process of preparing for or leading an area.

Imagine this scenario… A new team is formed, the notice goes out for others to offer themselves to join. I imagine someone like B thinking I’d like to do this, but there is no way I’m good enough. Maybe there are aspects I could do, but not all of it. I’m sure there is someone better than me and if I was really good enough surely they would just simply ask me. Add to this a culture of favouritism or elitism. The new team is formed with no thought of someone like B getting involved and so the cycle is perpetuated and the inner voice of courage squashed and replaced with “see this really isn’t something I could do”.

Have we misunderstood the kind of person that God chooses to work through? Have we forgotten that gifts are given by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1) not by the church leader and finally that gifts are given to build up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12).

Have we misunderstood the kind of person that God chooses to work through? Have we forgotten that gifts are given by the Spirit not by the church leader?

Could God use you to build up his church?

I’d love us to pause and have a look at the life of Peter. Through Marks gospel you see Peter;

  • publicly proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah
  • publicly stating that he would never deny Jesus
  • rebuking Jesus in front of others
  • being rebuked by Jesus
  • being called Satan by Jesus
  • disowning Jesus three times
  • falling asleep on Jesus three times

If you were leading a project at church, would you choose Peter to be on your team? If you were Peter would you have offered yourself to be on a team at this point?

But this isn’t the end of the story for Peter. Later Peter is described as the rock on which the early church was built (Matthew 16:18). The early church that grew 40% per decade for nearly three centuries. So what happened to Peter? How was this passionate, impetuous, fickle person transformed into a rock?

Between chapters 14 and 16 in Marks gospel we see the death and resurrection of Peter’s friend, his Messiah. But we also see the words from the angel, go tell the disciples and Peter. The reinstatement of Peter shows us that God stretches out his hands both in rescuing us but in also using us to build his church.

Peter the one who denied him, fell asleep on him and even rebuked him was reinstated as his friend. Imagine the sheer relief at the inclusion and singling out of his name. The cross and resurrection show us forgiveness and restoration both for us and in our ministry.

The words found in Marks gospel show that the kind of people that God chooses to use are those who are far less than perfect. The inclusion of Peter’s name displays the nature of God. His generous grace and kindness in working through people like you and me. I wonder if lesson number one for women to learn is that God does not expect perfection from those who follow him. If God can work through someone like Peter, then surely you and I are not out of the picture either?

It seems to be that there are so many things that hold us back from serving God or offering ourselves for a project or maybe simply sharing a new idea. I think we feel like we need to be 100% perfect at everything we do inorder to serve God rather than trusting that God delights to work in flawed and broken people like you and me.

If it is the Spirit that gives gifts, gifts that are tools not jewels, gifts that build up the church of God. Then what is holding you back? This week have a go at offering yourself for a project, serve in a new capacity in church, share the good news of Jesus with a friend, even if you only feel 60% good enough or 60% ready.

If it is the Spirit that gives gifts, gifts that are tools not jewels, gifts that build up the church of God. Then what is holding you back?

To the individual

Do these examples ring true for you? If so how? What is holding you back from using your gifts to build up the church?

Are there ways you could build the church as a less than perfect person?

To the leader

Does any of this ring true for you?

Please send this to women in your church and ask them if they identify with any of this?

How can you as a person in authority seek out those who will not be able to offer themselves?

How can you mentor, bring alongside others and seek to see them flourish?

How can you say “and Peter” to those in your church?

Published by Nay Dawson

Hello and thank you for reading my blog. I'm married to Jon and live in Southampton with our two girls. I work with IFES Europe as their Regional Training Co-ordinator, training staff and students across Europe. In 2019 I set up Passion for Evangelism a network of creative, public female speakers. I'm a Trustee for the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation raising essential funds for disadvantaged Black British Students. I'm also a Trustee for Friends International helping welcome International students to the UK. In response to the war in Ukraine I helped set up Ukraine Connect matching refugees and hosts across Europe

11 thoughts on “She doesn’t feel good enough to serve in your church…

  1. I find it very interesting, and I very much agree with what you say.

    In my personal process of the last time, I have also learned to consider the personalities of each one. In my case, I love to speak in public, create strategies, and manage teams; But in between, I have discovered that there are friends who are perhaps better than me at thinking these things, but they are introverted, and that makes them really suffer when they have to expose an idea in front of other people.
    I know that is not the case for everyone, but sometimes, that is the biggest impediment, and then my job has been to know how to take advantage of their thoughts and ideas that they can share with me in private, and then share them in public, obviously, recognizing the work of they.

    I think that this situation that you describe in your publication may be more common than we think, and it would not effectively reduce it to the realm of women, if not many Christians who find it difficult to take the leap of faith and believe that God can express himself in our weaknesses.

    Liked by 1 person

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