kelli getting her hair straightened for the first time by amandaI am going to call it my “Vicar Do”! That is right, I am writing about ministry and hair style. I did not intend my new do to be an homage to the Vicar of Dibley, and I don’t think it is per se, but now that my hair is cut it does make me think of the Vicar in that hilarious series.

When you think of all that goes into ministry, it seems ridiculous that something like hair style should matter. Yet, for women clergy it does! Let’s not be fooled. How a woman wears her hair has always been an issue in some churches for even the Apostle Paul comments on what women, in the Corinthian church, ought to do with their hair (1 Corinthians 11: 5-6). True, it matters for men as well. But lets face it men’s hair styles are limited to how short one wants it –even if, and I know some male clergy do, the guys want to style and poof the hair it a bit or polish the bald head. No matter how wrong it seems when dealing with issues of justice and spirituality, I have learned the hard way, how one looks effects how one is perceived by those you serve. And often those you serve look at all parts of your life, and yes, there is judgment in that. A negative perception can be disastrous for the unfolding of one’s ministry. That alone makes one’s image an issue of professional development and discernment. BLAH~ it goes against every grain of my being but there it is.

So yes, I got a new hair style today. Personally it was time for a change. Then the hard part started–choosing the new style. How is it the next hair style going to look in the pulpit? Immediately, I heard my preaching professor from seminary critiquing every one of my sermons saying “get the hair out of your eyes!” Certainly something to consider in selecting a new style. But then there is the issue of femininity. Should my hair be longer or shorter, and what do both of those options portray to potential congregations? Will short hair be as big an obstacle as boobs are to being a chaplain to people with different ideas or expectations regarding the role of women? I think women have much to consider when choosing a hair style. At least I do. Will it make me look like someone I am not? Am I willing to risk portraying that to the world? What am I portraying, and is it what I mean? BLAH, again~with the full realization that if I don’t ask someone else will. It’s too reminiscent of when I interviewed for CPE only to be told they would accept me but the committee thought I should “invest in some new clothes and a haircut” before starting the residency. Were they KIDDING me?!? Unfortunately, I am not the only woman clergy person I know to have been told something like this.

kelli looking all sharp and professional with shorter and straight hair. a first for her.Of course, I consulted a friend with far more fashion sense than myself. (Fashion clearly was not one the gifts Spirit gave me, but I have so many others that I don’t care. It takes all of us, so as I understand it I can safely rely on others for help~see 1 Corinthians 12.) This fashion friend well understands my professional role, because she shares it. Of course I trust my hair stylist, too, who knows my vocation and profession. Her name is Bernice, the same name that the Acts of Pilate gives to the hemorrhaging woman in the Gospel of Luke. So I like to think of my hair stylist as a biblical woman when she is working on my hair. It helps me~have I mentioned that not only do I lack the fashion gene but that I just don’t care about things like ‘doing my hair’? BLAH~ but here it is a new hair style, which I think I like. And, yet, as I sit here no one I know has seen the new doo. And as all those question about how it works and the perceptions it gives off are swirling in my mind, unanswered. It strikes me that a life of faith is peppered with moments like this. When we hope for the best, even when we have no idea what may come~let alone how people will react. Perhaps I must just have faith that all shall be well. And if not I guess, in this case, it will grow out.


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