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June 27, 2012


Andrew Arndt

Good stuff maynard. I would only add that I think its probably too *limiting* to limit this to a male thing (although guys seem to struggle with it pretty heavily)...plenty of non-us's (white, middle-class evangelically trained males) struggle with it too...posturing and performance simply IS the air we breathe in our culture, eh? We all need liberation from it.

But you gotta start from the particular to move to the universal.


A, I made brief mention in paragraph six that the symptoms of this egotism are certainly not just a male thing. I do believe the majority of ministries tend to perpetuate patriarchal egotism. It feels so amplified in the church because it's the one place we long to have some feeling of relief from it all.
...and I resonate with Paul in feeling like the chief offender.
Thanks for engaging, bro.

Andrew Arndt

Right, but you did say that what they slip into is still a "male egotism" game. I'm wondering why limit it to "maleness" and "egotism". I think that sitting on top of any kind of system or structure combined with a culture of performance and posturing (which exists as much outside of the church as it does within it), regardless of gender, is mainly to blame.

Anyway, I'm just thinking out loud...sometimes I wonder if we don't - very ironically - perpetuate the very systems we're criticizing by making them about things like "male egotism" rather than about much more universal human conditions. We STILL assume that OUR social location is the point of reference, rather than that which would be at work regardless of whether we lived in a patriarchal, matriarchal, egalitarian, or whatever culture.

I dunno...pushback?


Pushback? Because of the nature of the article I think perhaps a PushUP contest is more appropriate.

I guess my language for what you'd name a universal condition is the dark side of our ego.

The broader conversation may center around the general idea of power and the abuse of it, however, in my experience and reading, women are far more likely to operate out of an inner sense of power whereas men are always searching outside of themselves for it and therefore far likely to abuse it.

I'm all for self-criticism, brother. I'm not outside the church looking in and criticizing. She's my mother and if I'm not appreciative as well as deconstructive on occasion, I'll for sure perpetuate the generational sins of those who've gone before us.

It'd be interesting to have a catholic weigh in on this... a culture shaped on patriarchy that carried right through the reformation.

Thanks for your push back. It's all good...

Andrew Arndt

I liked this comment - "men are always searching outside of themselves for it and therefore far likely to abuse it"... but suppose we could lead men to operate out of inner groundedness? A maleness that is not defined by who it subordinates but by Who it is subordinate to... "Follow me as I follow Christ"

I just worry sometimes that if we're not careful, we'll make "maleness" simpliciter the problem and thus lead guys into further "seeking outside themselves" for grounding... rather then helping them claim their maleness as a gift to be welcomed and received and celebrated and stewarded for the good of others... icons of the Father in heaven

Hey...we should hang out soon eh? Maybe the pushup contest could happen then? ;)

Big love...


Fr Scott

Thank you Ryan for a very well thought out and articulated blog. As I reflected on the now many years of both life and ministry, I must confess that I found your pointed comments hitting home. I was very much like the first half of life male/pastor that you described. I was successful, pastoring a very large and wealthy community and full of great people. I was the one missing out on so much in those days. The lady in the red dress, sadly, always had a willing follower. I am glad to know you; to meet someone your age who is already doing the deeper work. I find several people like that at Access when I am there. You will get your share of criticism for this I'm sure...but keep moving forward. Be a good leader by following in front.

In xp, Father Scott


i really appreciate this piece and your heart. beginning to notice just how much power is in certain rooms is so important. the wheels keep spinning on a system that dismisses the least of these over and over again. in the corporate world, i expect it. profits & success are the goal. in the kingdom of God, our economy should be completely different. yet the truth is so many of our boards & elder teams & leadership structures are reflections of the world's ways, not Jesus'. it makes me sad.

Johnny D Dykes

Thanks for posting this. I've always been blessed by your honest words. This post strikes home, not only in my post-bible college/pastoral leadership training reflection, but also at home, literally. Lately, the roommates and I have encountered some pretty divisive chaos. Amidst it all, I've noticed how much I and those near to me perceive of and live life through an inferiority/superiority point of view. So often I will, on principle, try to settle the score with someone that I feel is better than me or trying to assert that he or she is better than me, and then later realize that my feelings and actions were fueled by the sensation that i'm not on top and i'm entitled to doing whatever it takes to get on top. In reflecting on this I see what you described in your entry very much at work. And, while it is good to think about this abstractly as the specific expression of a universal human condition, I think it is utterly helpful to engage it by way of how I particularly identify myself like you did at the beginning of the blog: white, educated, and middle-class. It's easy for me to think that this is simply sin running amuck, to say a prayer of forgiveness and go about my business. For me the more difficult task is to do the hard work of reflecting on how those particular characteristics that make me unequivocally me, despite all their virtues, also play a role in the ignorance that leads to the consequential sins I commit against others; in this case, my roommates.

Thanks for your honesty. It's a prophetic reminder for me not take everything for granted and to keep my hand to plow as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling.


I'm so grateful for friends like the four of you and so many others who allow me to wrestle with these tension and offer me grace when I land too hard in a particular area. A true blessing...

I pray that I/we can continue to move forward in honest conversations without demonizing any one person or institution. I believe reconciliation and Kingdom collaboration happens when we can be as honoring yet as honest as possible. Let mercy lead...



Thank you for this post. Eight years ago, I walked into a Quaker meeting because I was tired of being told how I should know and experience the Divine. And although I struggle with our Quaker quirks (if you are still attending you know we have quite a few), I am now a convinced Friend.

As a woman, I cannot tell you how much it means to worship with those who are working to understand the dynamics of power and are committed to full equality.

And yes, I am always shocked at how my ego settles down in the silence and how that which is Eternal in me and others rises up.

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