Culture

Challenging Trumpism: Lessons from Beth Moore on Leadership

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A few weeks ago, Relevant Magazine highlighted the Twitter storm that followed Beth Moore’s critique of Christians who have succumbed to “Trumpism,” which she described as a “seductive and dangerous to the saints of God” movement. Moore challenged her fellow evangelical leaders to confront this movement and warned, “This Christian nationalism is not of God. Move back from it.”

The way she used her platform was compelling. She had so much to lose in saying these things amid her (Southern Baptist) constituency including book sales, future speaking engagements, and the sure-to-come dismissive attacks from her fellow leaders in the SBC. There are probably several ways that Beth Moore and I differ theologically, but that is besides the point. Let us take a moment instead to notice the way she leads and uses her platform. I believe Christians need more of Moore’s kind of leadership in this very tumultuous time. Here are three things she models:

1. Speaks Truth out of Personhood, not Position

Notice in her tweets how Beth Moore speaks truth clearly out of her personhood, presence, and humility. In contrast to the “Trumpism” in her denomination and the silence of other leaders paralyzed by the possibility of losing their following, Moore speaks truth boldly. But she does so not out of a posture of presumption or hierarchy, but out of her own presence to the issue. From within the SBC world, dominated by male leaders, she sees things differently, listens differently, and is sensitive to the Spirit and what is at stake here in ways most of the men in her denomination seem to miss.

In contrast to the 'Trumpism' in her denomination and the silence of other leaders paralyzed by the possibility of losing their following, @BethMooreLPM speaks truth boldly. Click To Tweet

I believe this is because Beth Moore is not as blinded by worldly power as the men around her, probably because she has been forced to work in spite of it, even while being abused by it. There’s an epistemological posture in her voice that comes from this place. Women are certainly prone to succumbing to the same seductions of worldly power as men are. Nonetheless, because they have learned to thrive even when they are often not in power, women can often see things men cannot. This is the space from which Beth operates and results in her voice being different. For this reason, I suggest that every church that does not have women in leadership in mutuality with men is more prone to self-destruct due to the insidious workings of patriarchal abusive power. We need women leading in mutuality alongside men.

2. Remains Present Amid Attacks

Beth Moore gets criticized and attacked in petty ways, much of the time because she’s a woman. She always handles it with grace and deflective humor. And, despite it all, she still listens. It’s impossible to lead amid the evils, the violence, the vitriol of our times without this kind of presence. Women in our cultural matrix often appear to lean toward relationships versus hierarchy, to their credit. They do not assume that positional expertise or authority forms the basis of truth and discernment. I am not claiming this as an essential gender distinction but rather as a characteristic that is shaped culturally out of women’s experiences. As a result, when being attacked, women like Beth Moore (more often) use relational skills and tactics to unwind the defensiveness and antagonism thrown at them. In places of leadership, women seem to have more of these skills than men. This is yet another reason we need women leading in mutuality alongside men.

@BethMooreLPM gets criticized and attacked in petty ways, much of the time because she’s a woman. She always handles it with grace and deflective humor. And, despite it all, she still listens. Click To Tweet

3. Stays Faithful to the Church

Even though Beth Moore is attacked, mistreated, and abused by a failed evangelical church in so many ways, she refuses to throw it all out. This stuns me. She doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. She holds onto what is good and true (even when it seems to be very little) and keeps persevering forward. We need leaders like this. Any woman who rises to leadership in the evangelical world has to demonstrate perseverance. She has to see the good worth holding onto in the midst of the defensiveness, power-mongering, pushing, and shoving. It shouldn’t be this way. Nonetheless, in these insidious times in which we are living, we need leaders like this, who will often be battle-tested women like Beth Moore. This is yet another reason we need women leading in mutuality alongside men.

In these insidious times in which we are living, we need leaders who will often be battle-tested women like @BethMooreLPM. Click To Tweet

In drawing from Beth Moore’s example, part of what I’m doing here is to argue for why women leaders are needed in all of our churches and places of Christian ministry. I must, however, go one step further. These traits exhibited in Moore’s leadership are sorely-needed in all of our churches and institutions for Kingdom work in these antagonistic times. And we also need men to learn from women who display these traits. Only in this kind of mutuality will the church not have one arm tied behind its back, as it seeks to be filled with the Spirit anew for the challenges of being God’s people in these times.

*This post started as a conversation on David Fitch’s Facebook page. You can follow these conversations here.

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