My Journey Out of Bondage to Male Headship

(It is impossible to fully share one's heart in a 1200 word blogpost.  To get a clear understanding of my take on church leadership and the role of women in it  - read THIS article on Patriarchy in the Church first by clicking HERE.)

My husband and I both grew up in “Patriarchal” homes.  Our fathers were the “head” of the home in the sense that they believed it their job to be the “boss” of the home.  My husband Tom will write about his own journey out of the Patriarch Matrix (the false belief system where men are required to rule over their homes) in the coming weeks.

Today I will share with you my journey out of the Prison of Male Headship.

I always loved music.  I grew up taking band and choir every single year in school.  I majored in music education and enjoyed teaching general music and choir at a K-12 school in rural Indiana after college. 

After my first son was born, I knew it was time to walk away from teaching.  At the time, I thought God was calling me to be home with my infant son, but in hindsight that was not His plan.

I began leading worship once a month at the American Baptist Church I belonged to.  I simply fell in love with leading worship.  It was the 90s and we were just transitioning out of the “all hymn” mode.  There was new life in church worship as new songs were being released all the time.

My worship leading turned into an internship and I was soon hired as the Director of Worship at my church.  So now, four months after I leave teaching, I find myself in church leadership.  I was 26 years old.

Looking back, I understand now that the Lord wanted me to begin to learn about church leadership in all of its beauty and warts.  I had zeal back then but not real knowledge.  My naiveté was actually a blessing as I made mistakes that were purely out of innocence in not knowing the “rules of male headship” in church leadership.

My father had a glass ceiling for women.  There were rules and regulations we were “programmed” with growing up.  We were taught that “head of the house” meant we were at his beck and call.  He was the boss and had the final say - there were no arguments.  We were women.  We were beneath men and we were reminded of our place.  We were to learn to serve our husbands, this was what we were created for.

I thought to myself –

well it’s just because of how my dad grew up.  He’s just not wise to the modern age of women.  Surely the church would embrace me and allow me to be free to climb to my purpose.

How wrong I was!  My immaturity about the glass ceilings for women in the church was about to be remedied.

In my late 20s, I pursued God with everything that was in me.  I prayed. I worshiped. I fasted. I read the word.  Pretty soon, I was getting downloads of revelation from God.  God would give me scripture verses to give to other people.  (This is the Baptist way of prophesying.

J

)

My husband did not hit his spiritual growth spurt until his 30s.  I remember pondering in my heart that I should put my spiritual growth on hold until my husband caught up because I didn’t want to be out from under his “covering.”  The Holy Spirit spoke to me in such a strong way that made me fear the Lord, He said, “Tisha you cannot wait for your husband.  You must grow now to receive all that I have for you.  I will bring him along in time.  But do not stop growing in Me!”

I felt these words of conviction so strongly that I set aside my desire to be one with my husband in order to be one with God.  I had several other promises from God that my husband and I would be equally yoked one day but I could not wait for him in the meantime.  And of course – we are now more equally yoked than ever and

I am really enjoying our One Flesh relationship.  (Read more about that HERE.)

Well – let me tell you – the church was not at all happy that I was more spiritually mature than my husband.  It was just crazy the things people would say to me!  I believed some of these lies for awhile, but as God kept calling me higher, there came a point that I could no longer abide by the rules of men and still grow with God.  So I chose to go with God and I scorned the shame that was being thrown at me.

“Do you have your husband’s permission?”

  (am I a child?)

“You must let your husband spiritually lead you.”

(but he can’t at this stage)

“As a Godly woman, you should desire to be at home with your children

.” (but I am called by God to lead outside the home)

“Tisha, you need to submit your personality to your husband.”

  (So I am to lay down who God created me to be so my husband can have the perceived limelight?)

All of these lies come from the distorted view that the “headship of men” makes them the boss of women.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  God did not create one gender to be the master of another.  (side note: neither should women be the “masters” of men.)

As I reached the end of my 20s, God kept calling me higher than men would allow me to go.  There were a few times I told God He was being “unbiblical” about what He was calling me to do.  But He kept bringing more and more scripture to light that completely debunked the “accepted interpretation” of the male headship scriptures.

He reminded me that Ephesians 5:21 came before Ephesians 5:22.  “Submit to one another out of the fear of the Lord” (v21) came before “wives submit to your husbands” (vs22)  But whenever male leaders would quote this passage they would start with verse 22 and skip verse 21.

He showed me that the Proverbs 31 woman did not ask for permission from her husband to buy and sell land.  He showed me that Mary Magdalene was the first preacher of the gospel in John 20.  She had a revelation of Jesus that his own disciples did not yet have and she was TOLD by Jesus to go and tell them the revelation. 

The phrase One Flesh is used in the Bible 8 different times when describing marriage.   This is what my husband and I have pursued… a One Flesh relationship.  The Holy Spirit has said to my husband that his job in fulfilling “headship” over the home is to be the “overseer” not the “boss.”  This brings great freedom to me as I pursue my calling in the Lord.

However, when it comes to the church leadership, male headship is defined as “boss.”

I had a vision one day of climbing a ladder and continuously hitting glass ceilings. There was a ladder far across the room that had a lower glass ceiling than the one I was climbing.  I instinctively knew that the ladder across the room was my earthly father’s ladder and the ceiling was low for women. The ladder I was on was the ladder of my spiritual fathers.  The ceiling was a little higher than that of my dad’s.   I was stuck because the Lord kept calling me higher but there was a big chunk of ice on my ladder that kept me from climbing any further.

I beat on the ice with my fist and said, “God I hear you calling but I cannot climb any higher!”

I then saw a ladder being laid next to the one I was on.  All I had to do was step over to the new ladder.

I heard the Holy Spirit say these words.  “The answer to the glass ceiling is … get a new ladder!”

There were no glass ceilings at all on this ladder – I knew it was the ladder of the Lord.  I did not have to submit any longer to the rules and regulations that “male headship” said I must follow.

I am free to climb at the Lord’s command.  Every time I hit a glass ceiling I realize I am not on the right ladder and I do not complain.  I do not whine.  I know I am not powerless.  I simply get on God’s ladder and keep climbing.

As a woman I know stuff.  I know stuff about the Kingdom that no one else does.  Because, just like everyone else, I have a slice of God that no one else has. I have a message from the Lord for both men and women.  They are free to listen or not.  I will not be judged by how many hearers I have.  I will be judged according to whether or not I completed my assignment.

Male headship is biblical.  Man’s interpretation of male headship is a prison for women.

Marching to Your Flesh? Or Dancing With God? (Guest Post by Tom Sledd)

Several years ago, when my two boys were younger, we spent the 4th of July weekend with family at a lake house in Tennessee. We had a couple of hours to kill before dinner so I decided to take my boys fishing. This was something that I had planned in the back of my mind since before the trip. I was looking forward to this. It was going to be fun and relaxing. I can see it all play out in my mind, just like I remembered from my childhood.

I’m not a big fisherman but I do enjoy it. I have a lot of good memories growing up fishing with my dad and grandpas. I can remember quietly sitting in a chair or on a log with my line cast out into the water watching and waiting for the bobber to move. I can remember the sights, sounds and smells of the lake and its surroundings. I can remember the excitement of seeing the bobber go under and scrambling to grab the pole and reel in my catch. I knew that my boys will have just as much fun as I did. It will be great, just like my childhood (you know - stuff of lasting memories).

As we were getting ready my brother-in-law asked if he and his 2 boys could go with us. I thought it was a good idea because that meant we would double our chances of catching fish and besides, we were there to spend quality family time together. So after about 45 minutes of prep time, which should have taken 15, we started to head out. I led the way with my tackle box followed by my boys carrying their own poles, my nephews carrying their bags of supplies, and then my brother-in-law carrying their poles.

Now the fishing spot we were heading to was a little cove not far from the house. It was close enough that you can see it from the house and you can see the house from the cove. It wasn’t a long walk but it was downhill through the neighbor’s yard, across the street to a roughly made stairway of railroad ties that led to a trail that cut through a small patch of woods (a short walk but not an easy one).

Just as we approached the stairs my nephews decided that they wanted to carry their fishing poles instead of their bags. So after a short break of deciding who got to carry what pole, we started down the stairs and made our way through the woods. Now I was taught early that when you carry a fishing pole into the woods you point it down away from the trees to avoid getting your pole caught on branches. I must have not told my boys this because half way through the patch of woods my youngest snagged a branch and started to pull on it. Before I can turn around to help he hit the release button and pulled about 60 feet of fishing line out (okay minor setback- frustrating but easily fixed).

We come out into the cove and I set my boys up in their fishing spots. My youngest is a little more serious about fishing so I placed him first facing the lake. My oldest was next followed by my 2 nephews. Between the 4 of them we had the entire side of the cove covered (no fish was going to get by us). I started to think in my mind that we may have to make two trips back to the house because of all the fish we were going to catch.

No more than 10 minutes into it my nephews asked if they could have a water and a snack from their bags. So they stopped fishing and found a nice shady spot to eat (down 2 fishermen already). About this time my oldest son’s ADD kicked in and he became bored with fishing. I guess I understand, fishing takes patience and can be boring at times (now down to one fisherman). I asked him what he wanted to do and he looked around and decided that he wanted to throw rocks into the water. Okay. So he started throwing rocks. The more he threw the closer he got to his brother’s fishing spot scaring away any potential catch. Now my nephews were done with their snack and wanted to join in with the rock throwing. So there were 3 boys throwing rocks into the water while I had 1 boy fishing for dinner (maybe one trip back is all we will need after all). I’m starting to feel a little frustrated at this point.

After about 10 minutes of rock throwing into the water, someone discovered that big rocks will crush little rocks if you throw them down hard enough. So rock throwing gave way to rock smashing. Meanwhile my lone fisherman has had zero success and I could tell he was starting to lose his patience. After a few minutes of dodging rock shrapnel, my brother-in-law decided that maybe swimming would be fun. That was when my youngest gave up on fishing and joined the other boys as they tried to swim.

I say tried to swim because as you wadded out into the water you discovered that there were plenty of rocks to stand on but in between them was mud that acted like quicksand. If you stepped off of a rock into the mud you got stuck. And if you were able to get your foot out your shoe or sandal stayed behind (fishing those out of the mud was not what I had in mind). So swimming was out and my frustration grew.

I started to gather all of the poles together as the boys started to play tag. As they started to chase each other over rocks and logs (like boys do) the inevitable happens- crash and burn! My youngest nephew fell into the rocks and scrapped up his knees. At this time I could see that our fishing excursion is falling apart. The fish aren’t biting, supplies are low and we now have an injured boy. It was time to head back (no fresh fish for dinner, I guess we’ll have to have hotdogs).

As we began to head out, my nephew decided he wanted to be carried back because of his injuries. So my brother-in-law carried him, I took my tackle box and my nephews’ poles and my other nephew carried their supply bags. My boys wanted to hang on to their poles and carry them back (but only after a short lesson on how to carry them through the woods). We got through the woods okay and started to head up the railroad tie stairs (not an easy climb). As soon as we got to the top someone called out for a water break (really? can it wait? we are literally 50 yards from the house). By this time I’m frustrated beyond caring and continued on my own. This was not the fishing experience I had wanted for my boys. I think maybe there was a total of 30 minutes of actual fishing between 4 boys (my youngest claiming 20 of those 30 minutes). I was not happy. That wasn’t fishing! That was not how I wanted it to go.

Later at dinner I discovered something about that afternoon- the boys all had a great time. They all had a lot of fun and I missed out because things did not go as planned. They talked about smashing rocks and laughed at losing shoes in the mud, even comments on wanting to go “fishing” again tomorrow. I realized the boys really enjoyed themselves (I was the only one who was disappointed). By convincing myself that in order for this fishing experience to be perfect for everyone, it had to go exactly how I had it planned in my head (just like my childhood fishing trips). Instead of dancing with the circumstances (going with the flow) and trusting God to lead the excursion I believed the only way that experience was going to be successful was if it went exactly the way my self-imposed marching orders said it should go.

This is something that I struggled with most of my life (just ask my wife). My day would start with a set of marching orders that had to be followed or it would be wasted wallowing in frustration and anger. Because it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to I would pout or sulk. Something would happen (hot water tank goes out, friends call needing help, or issues with our cars) and my marching orders were obsolete and my day spun out of my control. Instead of trusting God to guide my day (doing the dance) and allowing Him to use me where He needed me, I would become rigid and fight through the day trying to follow the march.

It all came down to a change in my heart that allowed me to trust God with my day to day life. Proverbs 3: 5-6 says,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

By dying to myself and allowing God to lead in the dance and trust Him with my day, it ends up less frustrating. I still have things that I want or need to get done but my world doesn’t end if these things aren’t completed. If I trust in God’s dance and go where He leads me, all things will work out for His good (even things on my list).

I have numerous stories from my life where I trusted in God’s lead and was there to help a stranger change a tire, or I ran into someone at work who has just lost their mother or bump into someone at the store going through a divorce. I also have stories where I know opportunities to shed His light were missed because I didn’t want to waver from my preplanned march. By dancing with God, I have been able to be His light for people in a way that my marching orders could at times never provide. Jeremiah 29: 11 says,

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I now start the day with a “Good morning Lord, where are we dancing to today? What do you have planned?”

How My Husband and I Are Hitting Our Stride as One Flesh

My husband and I will celebrate 23 years of marriage in a few months.  It seems crazy that our SILVER wedding anniversary is around the corner.  (Isn’t that for old people?)

I was teasing him the other day when the Holy Spirit dropped a revelation in my spirit.

I had been working for a couple of hours on his webcomic

Punchline And Enoch (click here)

.  Tom comes up with the comic story and draws the panels and then I plug them into the computer and do whatever graphic design is necessary.  He’s the artist.  I’m the technical media specialist.  Sometimes he runs his storylines by me to make sure they make sense.  I also proofread for spelling errors… (no comment.)

But I had been working for about 2 hours on Tom’s stuff and we were just about done when I teasingly said, “Enough of your dream – I need to go work on my own!”

It was at that moment the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart.  “This is what being One Flesh is about.  You are helping your husband to complete his purpose and he is helping you to complete yours.  You are both ruling over the earth by invading it with LIGHT!”

You see Tom has always been intimately involved in Tisha Sledd Ministries.  He’s been a true servant and partner as we have obeyed the Lord together bringing light to our community.

I have been working on writing a book lately.  I often read to him the paragraphs I write.  He gives me great feedback and sands my words off to help them be more polished.  He is designing the cover of my book.

Even more than helping me with the book – Tom often will take care of dinner as I write.  He’ll run kids wherever they need to go.  Not only am I his helper.  He is mine.

We are One Flesh ruling over the earth like Jesus told Adam and Eve to do.

There aren’t many fights anymore.  We both have allowed God to purge our dross.  And now after 23 years… we have hit our stride as One Flesh.

It is a really nice place to be.

A few weeks back I had a friend ask me a question that I had never been asked before so I did not have a ready answer.

She asked, “After 22 years of marriage, what’s your secret?”

Without thinking I said,  “Mutual submission and a healthy fear of the Lord.”

Submit to one another in the fear of God. Eph 5:21 (NKJV)

I submit to him - he dies for me.  We both do this because we respect the Lord and have each other's best interests at heart.  We are both powerful.  Neither one of us is subservient.  We are one.  If I succeed - he succeeds.  If he succeeds - I succeed.  We are one.  One heart. One mind. One purpose - to BE LIGHT.

I pray that God will give you a download about how a one flesh marriage can work in your life.

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,

and the two will become one flesh.’

So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

  Mark 10:6-9

Domesticating men! (But not taming them.)

The following article was published in "her" magazine on July 19, 2015.

As a mother, I am a firm believer that we need to get back to raising up boys to be masculine men!

I believe that boys should get dirty.  I believe that they should wrestle.  They should play in the rain puddles and shoot BB guns.   There is a wildness in boys that we as parents should nurture.  We should not be turning boys into girls by demanding that they sit at a table and color quietly if they don't want to.

God created boys to be wild and free. We should accommodate their wildness while at the same time

domesticating them for their roles in the world.

My husband sees the decline of masculinity and the absence of fathers in our generation.  He feels a sense of calling to see this trend reversed.  He says, "We are raising kings in a fallen kingdom."

I feel quite fortunate that my husband is wide awake to the needs of raising sons. He wisely and purposefully teaches them manly things.  I call them 'Man-Lessons': How to mow the lawn, how to change the oil, how to build something from wood, cleaning out gutters, how to make supper, how to serve widows, how to serve a wife... etc.

We each have our roles in parenting our boys and have learned to flow seamlessly back and forth between those roles. My husband gives our children protection, provision and identity, while I comfort, nurture and teach them.

Some seasons have required more of a commitment and oversight from mom.  Other seasons have required that I step out of the way and let their lives be all about dad.  I remember a point in time when my eldest was about 15 years old that I had a 'knowing' in my heart that the apron strings needed to be cut and that it was imperative to his growth into a man that his dad should more important parental figure in his life.  So I stepped back into shadows and deferred most of the decisions being made about our boys to my husband.

Now don't get me wrong, mothers still have an incredibly important role even in the season of being in the shadows.  It is our job to teach them the proper time to be wild and the proper time to be gentlemen.

In fact, as my boys have now reached the ages of 17 and 12 - I have decided that God gave the world mothers in order to domesticate boys into gentlemen. This world would be full of cavemen if mothers did not tell their boys...

1) Keep your mouth closed when you chew your food.

2) Don't eat your boogers.

3) Don't wipe your nose with your sleeve.

4) Did you comb your hair?

5) Did you look in the mirror before school?

6) Please pop your zits.

7) Stop quoting the number of Pi to girls!

8) Don't use a fork for cereal - wash a spoon next time!

9) No you can't wear your underwear AGAIN!

10) deodorant? teeth brushed? acne medicine?

11) When is the last time you took a shower?

12) Why didn't you start your homework before 9pm?

13) No you cannot call the combination of Pepsi and Sierra Mist - Pist.

14) Do not eat an entire box of oreos again!

15) Do you 'THINK' those shorts go with that shirt?

16) Please put down your Nintendo DS and look at the mountain scenery!

17) No, I will not accept the answer "It was good" when I ask you about your day. Try again

There is a healthy balance in raising boys. Let us be careful not to tame our boys. Let us instead refine them to be masculine gentlemen instead.  "And please put the seat down on the toilet!!"