Friday, March 26, 2010

No Gurus

The other day a woman spoke at the BCM on our campus. I am the faculty sponsor and try to show up for the weekly meetings, although it's hard for some reason. Well, I know the reason. I like the fellowship and the speakers, but the worship music the kids do is not my taste. Very repetitive, not much going on with the lyrics. But I do get my lunch then and the students are sweeties.

Anyway, the woman was Karen Pace, who runs a camp in middle Georgia. She was a breath of fresh air. So often Christian women speakers, especially Baptists, fall into one of two extremes. One extreme is the so sweet speaker that I feel like I've been dipped in maple syrup after listening to her, if I can bear to sit through it. These ladies are usually godly, but a tad unreal; many of them have had relatively protected and sheltered and easy lives and so have to work really hard to make their lives sound like they have faced trials. I know that last sentence was harsh and unkind and I apologize, but I am determined to be real and honest on this blog. A trial to this kind of lady is getting married and having to go from their parents' big house to a two-bedroom apartment for a couple of years. Their suffering and trials have been vicarious--they know others who have gone through them. But they love the Lord deeply, are very sensitive, pray intensely, spend time in the word, and minister where they can in the church, even when they find it difficult to understand the lives of women who have been divorced, abused, left childless, left widowed, or left grieving great loss. Their voices are high-pitched and slow, calm.

On the other end are the prophetesses. I won't name names here, but these women can be shrill and just as hard to listen to as the others. They are dogmatic; they have God's advice for everyone; they know what is best for you, and have no problem letting you know it.

Back in the 70s Ziggy cartoons were popular, and still are. Ziggy would often go to the mountaintop to find the guru. I call the second extreme the gurus. They get the big crowds. They speak at the conferences. They write the books. They have followers who depend on their words. Some of them have been hardened and strengthened through trial and instead of becoming humble and soft spoken they have concluded they speak the words of God.

I'm not finding gurus in the New Testament. (there are male gurus, too, but that's another issue). I find servants, pastors, teachers, evangelists, deacons, elders. I don't find where we hook up with some personality and buy all his/her books and follow him/her around to conferences. What I do find is strong personal relationships and daily immersion in spiritual disciplines corporately and individually. I find obedience and service, not sitting in conferences.

If I had to choose one of the extremes, I would go with the first one, because those ladies are at least less assuming. But I would prefer a middle ground, a woman with a prophetic voice but not shrill, a woman who is not obsessed with telling her audience her own experience but focused on pointing to Christ, a woman who knows her Bible but knows that Christians can disagree, a woman who can give advice but respect that others can make their ow choices.

I finish this diatribe by saying the Karen Pace was such a lady and her message Wednesday was exactly what I needed to hear, spoken in humility but conviction. We don't need gurus in the church. That's another religion. We need people--women--of the Word who can think independently, critically, and nonemotionally.

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