I’m blessed to have a room of my own, as Virginia Woolf put it so memorably, in which to create. However, I could flip that as well– it’s a good thing for others in my family and neighborhood that I have my own space. I rarely look like the top photo; instead, you can typically find me in yoga pants and a very messy topknot that I slept in and forgot to brush out. Meanwhile, my husband also works from home and has his office elsewhere in the home. Visitors, beware– this means that one or both of us will have neglected personal hygiene in order to capture the day’s first energies for work time.

So it’s a good thing for you that you’re reading this instead of chatting with me in person right now. Perhaps you feel a little like that if you’re a woman in ministry leadership, too– vulnerable, in case someone sees your shortcomings; messy and disheveled, because life is that way and it affects you too. You don’t have it all together, and if you did, God probably wouldn’t have called you to this work because you’d have two pies in the oven that you had to watch. Add to the self-doubt the crushing weight of pious people who take certain Biblical passages to mean that, just because there are some gender rules that Paul gives the New Testament church, it means that women would best step out of ministry leadership altogether. What?

No way. Paul’s guidelines to the church today are just as valuable as the guidance he offered to the fledgling Christian church of his time. Surely we can take his rules into a twenty-first century context as women AND men as we figure out how to lead together.

Yes. Together. Because that’s how God made us and formed us and named us. He made us Adam and Eve, and he works through families today. Wouldn’t it make sense to use the same formula for our church work as well: men and women in leadership together, others helping them, children and the aged, and not place an age limit on usefulness?