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September 13, 2012

“I Love Me a Preacha in Dangly Earrings”

A true story for women in ministry

Ever walked past a mirror to catch an unexpected glimpse of yourself? “Yikes, I hoped skinny jeans might make me look skinny.”

I serve in a church that projects our service onto what we call “The Jumbotron.” It’s not exactly the scoreboard at the Superdome, but it’s a jumbo enough tron to elicit a similar arresting gasp when I see myself on it.

When I’m up front leading worship, I have moments of God-honoring bliss when my soul laps up every drop of God’s glory. When song and Scripture splash together as if an angel wrote the sermon then pressed it into the palms of our keyboard player. Eyes closed. Arms raised. My heart laid prostrate.

There are also moments when I catch a glimpse of myself on that screen and wonder who let me out of the house without a proper haircut and shoes from this decade. Who listens to this disheveled mess?

Fretting over our appearance as worship leaders should not matter, but we all know it does. Just ask the hipster pastor who spent an hour making sure his hair did not look like he just spent an hour on it. Oh, vanity of vanities.

One Saturday I stared down at my hands and noticed my mangled cuticles. I was preaching the next morning, and when I speak, my arms typically flap about like wings on a caffeinated bird. I needed a manicure. Can I be this vain? Could I put this extra 15 dollars in the offering plate instead?

I settled on the manicure.

As I flopped into the chemical-saturated room, I stared up at the mani/pedi Jumbotron, an 80-inch plasma TV bolted to the wall where Hillary Clinton waxed eloquent about bombing in Sudan. I felt like a loser, waiting for a woman to drizzle Pomegranate Punch across my nails while other people scrambled for their lives.

Suddenly the room lit up with conversation. Women began to yammer about Hillary’s new haircut. “Did she have work done?” They balked. “She looks terrible, her forehead is too big. Someone needs to reshape her hair.” I thought to myself that I would prefer the Secretary of State fret about the Sudanese people than her haircut. I also thought it was a good thing I got this manicure before tomorrow.

Would they have listened to her report if she had looked less gauche? Perhaps. Would people listen closely to my sermon with a nifty manicure? Not sure, but for good or ill, image plays a huge role in worship. Pastel ties on Easter, marvelously coiffed hair on big-name Christian celebs, the deliberate granola-goatee look on most youth pastors from Colorado. Somehow all this helps us connect with the crowd.

That Sunday morning I also donned an enormous pair of silver earrings. Post-sermon, a woman grabbed me in a tight hug. “I love me a preacha in dangly earrings. I listened to every word you said.”

And there you have it.

"Sredael Detfig” is the everywoman among church leaders. She is you, me, and the female church leader next door. You might say Sredael knows church leadership backwards and forwards. She has some funny stories about church ministry, and she has agreed to share those stories, along with what they’ve taught her about ministry and the God she serves.


As a preacher of over 30 years, it's hard to know what to say to this funny post except that ... yeah, it's true in many ways. I'm quite small- 5ft actually and in my younger years I couldn't preach without high high heels... they're not so high now, but they're still up there.

I suppose the truth is that people need to be able to identify with you to some degree.

It's so frustrating that Hillary or Condoleeza's greatness as Secretary of State is tempered with our discussion on how they look. It ought not to be so... but it is... and there you have it. It's a frustration that the preacher is partially judged by how well or badly they're dressed... but they are...

In the end, whatever you think about it, make sure you use your platform for something worth saying.

I struggle with this every Sunday, Amy. Thanks for bringing this to light. Image is HUGE, and we can discern this through the subtleties of the congregation's actions and reactions.

Thanks for a great artical. You're right Bev that image is huge. I love dressing up, but then I am the only one in our small church that is in a dress in feel way over dressed, even though I am not for church. I will dress down to fit into the norm of the congration.
I understand the shoe issue. One Sunday I got up to do announcments to notice that the two black shoes I had on were not a pair, close, but not a pair. Bless my five fashion critics for letting me leave the house like that, awe the love.

Thank you for this article. I have been a women's ministry leader for over 25 years. I have struggled with this topic for years. I was battling over a manicure this week. I come from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, so I've never known much about makeup or other appearance issues. I've been passed over recently for positions of leadership by girls who do not have the experience I have, but the same seminary degree. I wonder...

And I love me a writer with humility, humor and grace!

Double-standard?? We expect our male pastors/preachers to dress to-the-tee (well-dressed). Even if they're dressed casual or dress-down, we expect neat! If you feel like looking good when in service for the Lord, look good for Him first or if you feel like dressing-down, "do it all to the Glory of God". Love the post.

Is this what the whole post is about??? Imagery in service and the pulpit??????
If I understand critically, this wasn't how Jesus preached or served. No fancy clothes, not even a home at the end of the day!! But when He preached, well,
"When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were AMAZED at his teaching, because he taught as one who had AUTHORITY, and NOT as their teachers of the law." (Matt. 7: 28-29, NIV)
I am inclined to believe that these teachers of the law were as concerned with appearances as we are now. That is why they were powerless, and not full of the Spirit!!
Which are we, I wonder??? How do we serve God?? What depth is there is our ministry, when we ACCEPT the fact that shallow congregations are more attracted by appearances, and we STRIVE to KEEP UP APPEARANCES???
May we learn to follow our Lord's commandments to simply love the Lord, and love our neighbour. Period

I find that when I preach, the older women in our congregation are particularly attuned to what I wear. Instead of being upset or discomfitted, I decided to use that tendency to reinforce my message subliminally. I choose clothes that tie in someway to my content, and then when they make comments about my appearance, I let them know specifically what the connection between the two is. This adds another layer to the whole, and helps them remember the thrust of what I said as they remember how I looked saying it. Not to far afield from Jesus using object lessons that resonated with his audience, I believe.

I know that most of this blog was done tongue in cheek and I do suppose that many choose their "religious communicators" based on outward appearance. But this does not make outward appearance a truth test for the validity of the speaker. I am disturbed by the statement "image plays a huge role in worship." I would have to question how you define true worship? Aren't we warned to avoid worship that involves image or images? True worship is done in spirit and in truth, said Jesus. When our focus is on man that is a form of worship (man/woman-worship) but not worship of God. Sometimes I find the men and women on stage during worship a distraction FROM worship. I find myself closing my eyes so I cannot see what they are wearing or how well they play the keyboard. When I worship, I want to have my mind directed to Jesus--to God and Who He is! All of this reminds me of the story of Saul and David. Saul was "a head taller" than all the others and the people chose him as king. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Oh Lord, forgive us and convict us.

See, that's the joy of having a "ministry" in radio...

Whether we like it or not, women will judge the person in front of them by their style, or lack of.

In God's Word, we are encouraged to be culturally relevant (Titus 2:12) and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mt 22:39) and that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), and that we are the light of the world (Mt 5:14).

These thoughts together encourage us to show forth the best reflection of our Father that we can, as we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27). If someone claims to be the child of a King, yet dresses in rags and can't be bothered to brush her hair, what kind of message are they sending?!

We do not adorn ourselves for the approval of man, that is pure vanity. We do however, want to be a shining example of God's joy and love in human form, and if that means wearing big dangling earrings to relate to the women he sends us to then by all means, find the prettiest ones you can!

When we care for ourselves, it shows others who are curious about God that we just might be sharing something worth talking about. As long as that manicure and those earrings are accompanied by a smile and a pure and gentle spirit, we can be sure to be welcomed in to the lives of those who want to know all about what it's like to live as a daughter of the King.

We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, and should dress as such.

Cute story. Great thought provoker :D

I understand the concept but we have to be careful that the focus is not on us and our styles - nails varnished nth degree with the most eye-catching colours and jewellry and make up over the top.

So much secularism has crept into Chrisitianiy and we must be careful. Modesty is key (that doesn't mean being a frump!) and especially in the pulpit where the focus must be on the Word of the Lord and not on the preacher/speaker.

God wants to 'order every step' of our lives and cares about each aspect; He's keen on even 'the small stuff' - stuff like this! Talk it over with Him

Keep close to God...His Spirit will direct!

Gwendolyn Very disappointed in your assessment of the comment - this type of judgemental comment is what is called finatical - I believe that she was more so wondering if Caring for one self prior to entering the pulpit - does it matter - IT does - Even the word tells us to keep ourselves looking clean cut and well put together - read your word than throw those stones - I found the article quite humerous -

Note: The comment's identification appears AFTER the comment, not before. Be sure that you are addressing your comment to the proper person. =)

1 Timothy 2:9-15. The most immediate connection: verses 9-10; the more important connection: verse 12.

I'm with Gwendolyn. You will think I'm an old fogey and intolerant...let men do the preaching and not in clothing designed to "appeal" to the audience. I am of the opinion that a simple, clerical "uniform" is appropriate and does not draw attention to the speaker. Women would be better suited to lead some small groups, but not in a preaching position. Just my opinion. Hope I don't draw too much fire. And yes, I'm from a traditional, liturgical church. I was brought up in non-denominational style churches all my life and have finally made the switch. I was always put off by females up on a stage striding back and forth such as I saw on TV. I used to feel guilty that I didn't appreciate that "style" of ministry, but no longer. Just my opinion-this is the first time I've commented here. And I'm sure many of you hope it will be my last. (: Peace and grace to you all.

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