Are people resources?

I was glancing through my twitter when I saw a tweet that made me do a double take.  The tweet contended, “We are abusing our most under-utilized leadership resource.  Double Standards, Women, and the Church…”  The author included a link for his blog.  So then I looked at the blog post and got the impression that the author was referring to women as our most under-utilized resource.

I immediately asked if he was indeed saying that women are a resource. He responded by saying “of course.  People are our greatest resource for ministry.  More than resources but certainly not less.” I am not so sure.  Before I attack the premise, I do want to say the tweeter means well.  He appears to be an Assembly of God pastor.  I am not sure of the “we” in his original tweet means his denomination or Christians in general.  In his subsequent tweets promoting his blog post (and there have been many), he has framed the issue differently.

Attacking double standards, sexist comments, harassment are endeavors worth undertaking. At the same time, can you defend women in ministry and refer to them as a resource?  If women are a resource then they are being framed as a means to an end.  They are objects to be used in some larger goal.

Isn’t the problem with double standards, sexist comments, and harassment in part due to women being treated as something less than a full person? A means to an end?  The pastor/blogger’s response to my tweet suggests he believes all people are resources and was not trying to be sexist.  I am not so sure that we, people, are resources.

Now in the business world people are resources.  Companies have human resource departments.  Employees are referred to human capital.  As I often note on this blog, church leaders borrow the language and ideas from the secular business/leadership world. I have a hard time swallowing the idea that God created us to be a means to an end.  People are an end.

God created us out of love.  We are invited to love God back.  Now sometimes there is the imagery of God’s people as workers, but to the extent that we join in God’s work in the world are we a means to an end?  Did God create us because God needed us to do God’s work?  I contend that we were created out of love and invited to love back.  If we decide to join God’s work in the world, it is not because God needs us, but because we choose to join in God’s work.  We have free will, by the grace of God, we can choose to join God’s great work of salvation in the world.

I am all for calling out double standards and attacking sexism.  Yet, if we come from the perspective that people are a means to an end, a resource, we in someway undermine whatever good we are trying to accomplish.  The same systems and ways of being that create double standards and demean women also see women as a resource, a means to an end.  We cannot have it both ways.  There might not be a straight line between the two, yet both are products of the same worldview.  A worldview that I would contend is counter to the Gospel, and more in line with the ways of sin and death.  As long as we view people the way the world views people, we will struggle to be fully engaged in God’s redeeming work in the world.

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