I took some extra time with my daughter, Eva, this morning. We sat on the couch at 6:15 am just before the bus came and I felt the need to remind her of the fantastic women who have helped form and continually guide my walk with God. I started listing them:
Ps. Nina Hopper
Ps. Jennifer Hopper
Dr. Elizabeth Austin
Ps. Mare-Elise Fernandez
Dr. Rebecca Letterman
Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt
Ps. Geetha James
Then, of the roughly 439 women mentioned in the Christian Bible, ten of my favorite leaders, teachers, judges, counselors, mothers, and apostles stood out:
I reminded Eva of the incredible line of strong, powerful women that she comes from, and that she was born ‘for such a time as this.’ I prayed over her, hugged and kissed her, and then sent her out the door.
As I sit here reflecting, I am reminded of the responsibility I have to shape the next generation of women. My most potent opportunity, of course, lays in how I steward my daughter and the example I set for my three sons. The role of parent has reformed me in ways I didn’t even know I needed reformation.
I had to stop using euphemisms like “You play sports like a girl!” Explaining what I meant by the statement—to a daughter who loves to play sports—made me realize how demeaning the logic is, and how powerless it made her feel. When she hears others use such phrases, she looks at me, and I am glad I can model something else for her. I have struck the term from my vocabulary.
I’ve had to catch myself on favoring my sons for activities, interests, and discussions that I assume are naturally masculine when, in fact, they are not. My daughter’s interest in engineering, for example, should not take second place to one of her brother’s interests in engineering, something I have been prone to misallocate. Nor should her desire to start and lead a Bible Club in her public school or lead worship in her church. I also can not assume that she is more ‘naturally gifted’ or responsible to cook or clean the house than my sons. These are parochial vestiges from an era that has missed the heart of the Father for humanity.
Sadly, a few streams of Protestant evangelicalism cling to interpretations of Scripture that exclude women in significant areas of church leadership. Pastor John Piper’s statements this week, as one example, epitomize this view. Such understandings, however, are poor exegetical attempts to interpret, namely, two problematic New Testament texts. It astounds me that these two passages overshadow the hundreds of instances where women taught, lead, pastored, corrected, judged, prophesied, church-planted, and governed—both as single women and married women—spiritually and naturally in the Bible. (My future hope is to contribute to all those who have already written on this subject).
If you have a daughter, granddaughter or spiritual daughter in your life, remind them, today, that they were born to rock. Remind them that they are powerful, that they are made in the image of God, to carry his glory to those around them. Imagine with them, dream with them, and look for ways to empower them.
If there are women who were and are integral in shaping your walk with God, please celebrate them in the comments section below. List those who have inspired you, challenged you, reformed you, and helped make you more like Christ. I want my daughter to read about them.
For more on this subject, I recommend Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry by Tara Beth Leach