Can I be really honest for a second?
My spiritual gift as a 20-something female in the church is not to babysit children.
Should I repeat that? My spiritual gift is not babysitting children.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind working in the nursery. I don’t mind babysitting. I don’t mind playing with kids. In fact, I like it sometimes. Sometimes I’m completely willing and sometimes I look forward to it. Sometimes I want to do it. But I don’t like it all the time. Sometimes, I dread nursery days. Sometimes I can’t stand the sight of another child. Sometimes I have a hard time saying “no” when asked to watch children when everything in me wants to say “no” because I just don’t want to.
And to be honest, I would much rather be your dog or catsitter.
And I hate being the go-to babysitter solely because I am young and I am female.
You see, there’s this problem in the church or within any Christian ministry. It’s this problem where men are always called upon to move tables or to do physical labor or to lead. And women are shuffled towards the children or to the cooking or the cleaning.
It’s just assumed that all women are good with children. It’s assumed that all men don’t want to work with children. It’s assumed that women aren’t strong enough to move tables, and it’s assumed that men are. But why?
This is why I think that gender roles in the church are so damaging. They restrict those of us who don’t fit the typical gender roles. They restrict us from reaching our full potential and from having courage to defy those gender roles. We’re placed in boxes that are nearly impossible to escape from.
Some women’s gift is children. I know some of those women and their hearts are so wonderfully dedicated to children. Some men are really great at rearranging furniture and I know some of those men. These women and men are so necessary to ministry. Their gifts are needed and they are so perfect for the roles they fulfill.
But I also know women who are terrible with children and that doesn’t make them less womanly. It doesn’t make them less valuable as a woman and a church member, and it sure doesn’t mean that they don’t have a gift. Their gift just isn’t what you want it to be. It’s not what it’s “supposed” to be, and that’s okay. The exact same thing goes for the men.
Women, if you don’t want to work in the nursery, don’t. If you don’t want to work in children’t ministry, don’t. If you would rather teach an adult Sunday School class, go for it. If you want to volunteer to move furniture instead of decorating the church or cleaning it, do it. Do whatever you are called to do and whatever you are good at. It doesn’t have to be what everyone else tells you you’re supposed to do.
Men, if you don’t want to move tables, don’t. If you would rather be the babysitter, volunteer to do it. If you would rather teach the children rather than adults, do it. If you want to cook and clean, no one should stop you. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. You can do it and you will succeed at it far more than those who are forced into it based on gender roles.
Everyone’s gift is different. Realize that and don’t lump everyone into categories based on gender. Or anything else for that matter. Be your unique self and don’t let anyone tell you not to.
Whatever you do, do it well. That’s all God asks of you.