Marty was the youth minister at my church when I was a teen. He was kind and funny and invested his life in a group of rural kids who needed to understand how God could transform their lives.
He also taught us how to sell "toilet paper insurance" to raise money for missions. Families bought the policy and then we cleaned up their yard if it was TP'd at Halloween. If they didn't buy the policy, we rolled their yard.
In this group was a guy a few years older than me who we'll call Sam. Sam was confident, charismatic, and so very smart about the Bible.
Marty believed in growing up leaders within our group. Each year, he took extra time and resources to pour into a smaller group of students. This group would then lead small groups and teach other kids at retreats. It was no surprise he picked Sam, but it was a HUGE surprise he picked me.
As a young woman who had grown up in a fairly conservative Baptist church, the idea women could teach peers, much less lead groups was foreign to me. Being a part of this leadership group was exciting and empowering.
Until it was time to take theory into practice.
As we prepped to go out and do and make disciples and pour into our own groups of people, Sam spoke up.
He didn't think girls should be teaching. Or leading. Or even speaking in front of a crowd.
The excitement and empowerment was exchanged for frustration and hurt.
Thankfully, Sam's wasn't the voice that lingered over me that day. Marty was speaking truth into our group. Truth for girls and for boys.
He talked about how leadership isn't determined by one's sex, but by one's capacity to do the job. God will send anyone who is obedient and prepared. Marty referenced women in scripture like Deborah, Esther, Miriam, Mary, Anna, and Phoebe. They weren't on the sidelines, but they were used powerfully by God to lead, to teach, and to speak.
Sam passionately disagreed. He said this should be a deal breaker.
I taught my first small group just a few days later. I've not stopped speaking since.
Who has been a Marty in your life?
This post was inspired by "What Happens When We See Women Teach the Bible."