Rachel Held Evans is hosting a "Week of Mutuality." Here is my contribution to the syncroblog!
I always thought I was a complementarian. (According to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, complementarianism "affirms that men and women are equal in the image of God but maintain complementary differences in role and function.") Then Lianne Roembke, author of Building Credible Multicultural Teams and a woman I greatly admired, asked me how our marriage actually worked.
As a young wife I trusted Terry’s judgment more than my own. He was so logical, so convinced that he was right, could state his reasons for coming to any decision, and rarely changed his mind. I had gut feelings and changed my mind ... a lot. But he (smart guy that he is) listened to me and learned to trust my intuitions. We never, that I can remember, made any significant decisions that we did not agree on. I do not remember him ever trumping my views because he was the “head”. Our roles and functions could not be described as “lead” and “submit.” We always functioned as equal partners, under the authority of Jesus, seeking to respond to the Spirit of God and to represent His kingdom.
As the years went by, he helped me to become more confident in my own insights, my own thinking and my own wisdom. When he had surgery to remove a brain tumor in 1993, was hospitalized for 5 months, and subsequently faced with a long rehabilitation, we had new roles to play. I had to make the decisions. I handled the finances, dealt with his medical issues, sold the house, organized an international move, and supported the children as they were uprooted from their homes and established in another country. I did it well, with the grace of God and the help of many.
In the subsequent years, Terry (who is by the way, is the best and most Jesus-like person I know) encouraged me as I went back to school to get my Master’s degree and established a new role in ministry in Campus Crusade for Christ. (“They need what you have,” he said.) He enjoys hearing my insights, is influenced by what I am learning, and is glad I read all those books and give him synopses (so he doesn’t have to read them.) He likes the (rare) opportunities that I have to speak at church – because my sermons are good. I could never have done what I do without his encouragement and support. He helps to create an environment in which I can thrive.
There have been other men with who have done the same. Dr. James Houston and Dr. Bruce Hindmarsh, professors at Regent College who treated my work with respect when I felt like the escaped housewife in a classroom full of bright young men; Steve Ellisen and Matt Mikalatos who as my bosses in Campus Crusade for Christ gave me a platform; and colleagues like Bob, Darren, Jason, and Kirk who have always sought out my contributions and valued my gifts.
My very wise mentor, Ney Bailey, told me “you be responsible for the depth of your ministry, and let God be responsible for the breadth.” I don’t want to fight for a voice or a place at the table (or on the platform.) But I love it when men like these act like Jesus and fight for me. Thank-you, brothers.