A few years ago, I was preaching at a church and, just as the worship music began (which signals that the preacher has somewhere between fifteen and thirty minutes until his microphone is turned on), someone came and told me that two ushers had not shown up and asked if I could help recruit a couple people to pass the offering plates at the end of the service.
So, I started asking people—most of whom I did not know—if they would mind passing the offering plates. One woman I asked said, “Oh, I’d love to! But I don’t think I’m allowed to do that.”
“Why aren’t you allowed?” I asked, wondering if she had a criminal record or something.
“Well, isn’t that something men are supposed to do?”
I had no response. I didn’t know all of the ins-and-outs of this particular church, but I thought certainly she was mistaken. But I was now more interested in the outcome of this inquiry than I was in the sermon I was supposed to preach in roughly nine minutes.
We found one of the main church leaders and asked if it would be okay if this lady served as an usher. The church leader crinkled his nose and looked down at the floor as if he were trying to solve an impossible math problem.
He finally said, “Well, I guess it would be okay.”
So this very kind, servant-hearted woman was granted permission to touch the offering plate.
I cannot tell you how much it bothered me that we had to go to that much trouble just to find out if a woman could serve as an usher.
There is a pervasive mentality in lots of churches that women should not be “allowed” to serve in specific kinds of ministry roles simply due to the fact that they are women.
What a waste. I’ve seen what women can do in the name of this Jesus that we serve, and it is a remarkable and powerful thing. One woman who serves as a constant reminder of this is my wife Caroline.
In the past few months, Caroline has been forced to endure lots of frustration and confusion, and none of it has been her fault. Because of the nature of my career path and my profession of choice, Caroline (along with my children) has had to be more adaptable and patient than she probably ever expected. And she has done it all with an unbelievable amount of grace and strength.
In spite of everything, she continues to lead a ministry devoted to helping teenage mothers.
She continues to serve people through her gifts as an artist and a photographer. She even designed this website.
She continues to be a better parent to our children than I will ever hope to be.
She comforts others when they are in pain, and she loves the people in her life with all her heart even when she herself is in agony.
So, can women pass the offering plates?
You’ve got to be kidding me.
That is my wife. She is a true woman of valor, and she is my constant reminder of what women can do if we (i.e., male church leaders) will simply get out of the way.
Do you know any women of valor?