I recently polled a group of women actively engaged in teaching the Scriptures within their local churches, mostly as volunteers, to ask them about the significant challenges they face in this role. Five of them are listed below. Can you relate to any of these?
I don’t feel worthy.
We have this treasure in jars of clay, and the most persistent challenge we face is ourselves. Like Moses before the burning bush, we fear our own inadequacy more than we trust his sufficiency, and so we are sucked into the vortex of self. We stumble into self-reliance, self-promotion, or self-loathing. In this vortex we lose sight of our sisters whose feet we could wash and of Him whose head we could anoint through worshipful exposition.
I don’t have time to adequately prepare.
There is no substitute for marinating in a text and gleaning wisdom through personal encounter with Christ. But many of us feel crunched for time and space to meditate upon Scripture and study for a lesson. Furthermore, many of us have not received formal theological training. We lead full lives, yet we want to provide substantive and faithful instruction. How can we supply what is needed in the midst of our full-time responsibilities that may entail our jobs, our other commitments, our children, our husbands, and our aging parents?
I don’t have support from my church leadership.
Some feel like they are in a silo within their church in the area of ministry among women. Many churches do not have a staff member devoted to organizing, leading, or teaching women’s discipleship groups. While this allows for a dynamic ministry among volunteers, the absence of a paid female administrator and/or teacher also presents certain challenges. Sometimes a single volunteer carries the full weight of organizing, selecting curriculum, hosting, and teaching.
I would be even more of a hypocrite if I taught the Scriptures.
As those who expound the Scriptures regularly, we must reckon with the dangers John Piper portrays in his lecture “Preaching as Worship”:
Over the years words begin to come easy for preachers, and we find we can speak of mysteries without standing in awe; we can speak of purity without feeling pure; we can speak of zeal without spiritual passion; of God’s holiness without trembling; of sin without sorrow; of heaven without eagerness. And the result is a terrible deadening of the spiritual life and depletion of preaching power.
I don’t know how to apply a passage to so many different women.
Often those of us who teach within the local church enjoy the privilege of teaching among several generations, life-stages, and social situations. How do we apply a passage poignantly to the recently divorced mother of three, the single woman who just lost her job, and the elderly assisted-living resident?
In light of such significant challenges, what motivates women to persevere in this costly endeavor? Their beautiful and matchless Savior has captivated their hearts, and they long to see women praise his name and know his love.