Women can now be bishops. Hooray!! Finally!!
I think this change is vital for the Church of England for many reasons, but mostly because I believe that good leadership is imperative for every organisation. This belief has been deeply rooted in me from the time when I started my engineering apprenticeship back in 1988. I was pretty naïve, my school was an all-girls school and I had no idea that women weren’t meant to be good at engineering! Furthermore, the sexual harassment and distrust of women on the shop floor astonished and frightened me.
The managing director had a different view to the lads on the shop floor. He said that the company was in a very competitive market. For the company to survive he needed the very best people working for him, in particular the very best leaders. He didn’t care whether they were black, white, pink or green, whether they were male or female, short or tall, gay or straight. He had to have the very best, otherwise his competitors would employ the best and then they would prevail.
This pep talk enabled me to walk tall for all the years that people told me that women couldn’t be engineers “judge me on my work, not my gender” would be my reply. Furthermore, I watched to see whether the managing director’s theory was true – that organisations that practised prejudice failed and those who enabled everyone to use their gifts succeeded.
Over the years I have become aware both of how arduous it is to lead well and also how few people have this gift. I also became aware of how important good leadership is, I have been very blessed by working alongside amazing leaders who have helped me no end. I have also experienced times of working with terrible leaders and I believe that the damage that they do is significant.
It is my opinion that God gives each of us gifts, and leadership is a gift that God gives to some, whilst others are fantastic researchers or great team-builders or brilliant ideas people. Every gift is vital for the building up of God’s church and God’s world and should be received with joy.
Sadly, I think that we have wasted the gifts of many in the church by excluding then and this has left the Church of England impoverished. I don’t want to see women bishops per se – I want to see great bishops. Great female bishops, awesome gay bishops, inspiring disabled bishops, bishops of all races, genders, sexualities, disabilities and from different backgrounds. Only then do I believe that we will be fully receiving the gifts God showers on the church. I’m looking forward to the riches that we are going to discover.