Culture At Large

Making room for Tina Fey

Caryn Rivadeneira

At one point in Tina Fey’s new (and hilarious) book, "Bossypants," I got up to Google The Second City. I wanted to know if it was one of those Chicago theaters that got its start in a church basement.

It wasn’t. But it sure sounds like some of The Second City logic could’ve been picked up at church. Here’s what I read:

“In 1995, each cast at The Second City was made up of four men and two women. When it was suggested that they switch one of the companies to three men and three women, the producers and directors had the same panicked reaction. ‘You can’t do that. There won’t be enough parts to go around. There won’t be enough parts for the girls.’”

In the book, Fey tells us she couldn’t understand what they were talking about. Of course there could be enough parts for both sexes because, as she writes, “We were making up the show ourselves.” The Second City is improv! They could create however many roles they needed for the men and the women. Fey calls this crazy sexist line of thinking: “The Myth of Not Enough.”

This Myth of Not Enough of course is alive and well in churches and in broader Christian circles. I hear it most often, in fact, when it comes to arguments against women stepping up and using their God-given leadership gifts. Gifts that many claim, if used, will leave Christian men with nothing to do.

“If women are (insert leadership position here),” they ask, “whatever will the men do?”

While I’ve been known to suggest that men can always work the nursery and run the bake sales, Fey’s line is much better. Nearly perfect, actually.

Because the answer to those who wonder what men will do if all women are able to fully use their gifts is: Trust the One who makes up the show. It makes no sense to believe otherwise. It’s heretical, actually.

If we as Christians believe that God is the giver of gifts and that God expects us to use our gifts, then we have to trust that God knows what he’s doing. Instead of wondering what men will do when women fulfill their God-given callings, using God-given gifts, those of us who seek to follow Jesus should be in the business of always equipping and encouraging everyone to use his or her gifts. No matter what gender. No matter what gifts.

Kingdom work is not a zero sum game. There aren’t limited spots. Or, at least, there shouldn’t be. Of course, enabling all Christians to use their gifts often means some readjusting of roles. Some recasting of parts. Some tweaking of scripts. Some full-out improvisation. All things that make us panic like those Second City producers. And yet, these are all things that have been part of the story of God and us since the beginning.

God’s never been afraid to tweak or recast or readjust when it comes to his love for us. He’s used whales as lifeguards. Shepherds as kings. Virgins as pregnant women. The Eternal Divine as sacrificed human.

Wondering what men will do if women continue to step up and use their gifts is a dumb question. God’s not only making up the show - he’s ordained it. God’s left room for us all to play the part we were made to play. The real question should be: What does the kingdom of God lose out on when we don’t allow one another to play our parts?

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