At every camp my old church had, the church leaders would pick leaders from the youth. Both guys and girls were chosen, which was unprecedented since no women were allowed in the church leadership. Women weren’t even allowed to sit in on decision making meetings, but they were allowed to be preached at once decisions were made.
When I asked why women weren’t allowed to be present at key meetings, I was told that women didn’t have what it took. It was allowed once and someone “got her feelings hurt”, her husband defended her and it wasn’t pleasant for the elder telling me about it.
The immaturity of women was the reason given. I happen to think it was the immaturity of the male leader that would cause him to insult the women present. But the elder I talked to seemed to think the only reason that someone would be offended wouldn’t be because they had been treated poorly, but that the person herself was immature. How convenient for him.
This same elder also mentioned that he found working with women leaders in a secular setting a very enriching and positive experience. I hope one day he realizes the hypocrisy of that.
I was never asked to be a young person’s leader, even though many people were chosen multiple times. I was acting as an unofficial leader and coordinated and directed the youth group for a year, but my male cousin was given all the credit for it.
I finally asked one of the girls chosen as a young people’s leader what they told her leadership meant. She replied that her job was to make sure any girls who got sick at the dorm were taken care of and to make sure the bathrooms stayed clean.
Wow! Female leadership meant taking care of the sick and cleaning bathrooms. It meant the same thing as female submission. It was the same thing that any responsible person would do.
I asked an elder what the criteria was for choosing leaders. He told me that sometimes they picked young people that they were grooming for leadership and sometimes they picked kids that needed some responsibility in order to shape up.
He said that I “lead from the middle” and therefore was disqualified. He felt I was already showing leadership qualities and didn’t need to be encouraged to show more. I’m guessing that meant I was dangerous.
I look now at the young men consistently chosen as leaders. They have one thing in common – a fierce defense of all things our church stands for. There is no questioning, no new directions. There are a lot of impassioned speeches, guilt trips, and deference to authority.
Apparently leadership means to obey.