Several years ago, Frank and I, with a group of thirty mostly Presbyterian pastors and their spouses, were privileged to meet The Honorable Cynthia Pratt, Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas. That meeting left the entire group in no doubt that we had just encountered a truly extraordinary person.
I mean, this woman was preaching the gospel!
What caught me completely off guard (more than hearing a government official testify publicly and fearlessly to her faith in Christ) was the thunderous chorus of heartfelt amen’s that erupted from the men in our group. It isn’t every day that a woman is cheered on by her Christian brothers like that. It’ll be a long time before I ever forget it. I can only imagine how much it must have meant to her.
This week, I attended the Florida Conference for Women, a gathering of several hundred women leaders in the Central Florida region, and I thought again of Mother Pratt. These women are remarkable, accomplished, high flyers in business, medicine, politics, finance, and education. Among those addressing the group were: Tory Johnson, Founder and CEO of Women for Hire and Good Morning America’s Career Guru, Kelly Corrigan, NY Times Bestselling author of The Middle Place, Florida’s CFO, Alex Sink (who subsequently announced her candidacy for Governor of Florida), and two local news anchors, Barbara West and Martie Salt. These strong, smart, gifted women have a lot in common with Mother Pratt.
By virtue of their obvious leadership skills and achievements, these women raise some important questions.
What happens when the Mother Pratt’s of this world show up on the church’s doorstep with their proven leadership skills and passion for the gospel, desiring to become part of the local body? Do we know what to do with them? Do they hear the cheering voices of their brothers, or does the cheering stop? And for that matter, what kind of cheering do the other women hear? Does the Bible’s message for women include today’s professional women? Does the church embrace these women or regard them with unease? Do we welcome, need, and make the most of the rich gifts these ezers bring, or should they check their gifts at the door of the church?
What do you think? And what do you see actually happening?