In the same way that slavery was a moral challenge for the 19th c. & totalitarianism was a challenge for the 20th c., the challenge that women & girls face around the world is the moral challenge of our time.

~ Sheryl WuDunn & Nicholas Kristof

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Staying Humble as it Gets Personal by Rob Dixon

Sometimes, you can't own a value until it gets personal. 

At least that's the story of my journey regarding gender equality. Along the way, I've gone from someone who holds a value but has little conviction to someone who is a determined advocate.

God's grace to me was that I grew up in a church where women and men could exercise their gifts equally and without limitations with regard to gender. On top of that, as I grew in my faith, many of my early mentors were women. Still, when I got to college and my faith begain to bloom, gender equality remained something on the periphery, something that I merely valued, as opposed to a "hill to die on." I was no gender equality revolutionary.

But then it got personal.

In my first year as the staff leader of my campus ministry chapter, a local pastor who barely knew me sat me down and told me that because I was allowing women to teach the Scriptures in the ministry I was leading, I would be held accountable for my false teaching.

Wow. The accusation was painful for me, and it sent me into a months-long quest to learn as much as possible about the theology around the topic of women in leadership. I read, studied, prayed, talked, debated and then read some more. And when I was done with that intense burst of learning, my understanding of the Scriptures continued to lead me to the conviction that men and women are to be full partners together in ministry and, in particular, that women are to be free (better yet, empowered) to lead in the Kingdom according to their gifting.

But here’s the catch. When I emerged from this season of learning, I was militant. I mean, if you disagreed with me on the issue, I had no time for you. Looking back, the experience of being rebuked very nearly turned me into a rebuker. Pretty quickly, the issue of women in authority became a litmus test for me: if you agreed with me, we were good. If you didn’t, we had problems.

Thankfully, God provoked a trusted mentor to challenge my posture. My friend sat me down one day and basically said, “Rob, I’m concerned that you’re headed toward becoming like that guy. You need to learn how to hold your convictions with humility.”

“Hold your convictions with humility.” That was the word I needed to hear.

Because we need that posture in order to engage with others around these issues in healthy ways. Particularly when things are unclear or in dispute, we must be humble.

These days, my journey has taken me into the world of thinking about my male privilege. Specifically, I'm considering how Christian men ought to respond to the reality of our socially-granted privilege and power. For the last 6 months, I've been blogging on this stuff twice a week, every week at

As I've gone along, I've experienced a wide range of emotions. This stuff is complex! At once it's been interesting and encouraging, uncomfortable and vexing.

And, above all else, it's been personal.

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