Purpose. The purpose of this research was twofold: (a) to determine how traditional patriarchal church culture and theology affected the self-esteem of Asian female pastors, and (b) to develop a feminist group counseling model that uses biblical scriptures as tools to assist Asian female pastors in addressing self-esteem issues.
Method. Twenty-seven participants in my study were Asian female pastors (AFPs) selected from Presbyterian Churches in Taiwan. Out of these 27 participants, five focus groups consisting of four to seven AFPs were formed. Four women's stories taken from the Bible—Deborah, Jephthah's daughter, the Levite's concubine, and Ruth—were used to address gender-related issues of Asian female pastors. The focus groups discussed the following issues: (a) leadership, (b) intimate relationships, (c) family of origin, and (d) the importance of economic independence.
Findings. In leadership sessions, five themes were generated: (a) style differences between Deborah's leadership and AFPs' leadership, (b) impact of society's stereotypes, (c) facing male pastors' fears, (d) dealing with the pressure of singlehood, and (e) women suppressing women.
In family of origin sessions, three themes were generated: (a) an unloving promise, (b) the meaning and importance of names and personal space, and (c) lower expectations based on gender.
In intimate relationship sessions, six themes were generated: (a) negotiating the societal value system, (b) having difficulty in retaining emotional support from the spouse, (c) struggling in the marriage, (d) fighting against traditional teachings within the church, (e) being a single female pastor, and (f) considering divorce or not.
In the economic independence session, four themes were generated: (a) economic independence affecting self-esteem, (b) men: women's rescuers, (c) double work, one income, and (d) single: free or more bondage.
A closure session was held to gather data concerning how the participants felt they were helped and changed through group participation. Four themes emerged: (a) validation from within, (b) AFP's goals: finding my own leadership styles, (c) more self-awareness, and (d) my gender is great and my existence is valuable.
As a result of the focus group sessions, a feminist group counseling model was created and introduced.
Keywords. Feminist theology, feminist counseling, self-esteem, Asian female pastors, and feminist group counseling model.