Archive of ‘women’ category

Ladies. Own your gifts.

Last night, I was sitting around a table with several leaders from my church.  We had met to think through our upcoming women’s Gathering.  To brainstorm.  To plan.  And to offer some guidance, insight, and wisdom into the talk that will be given.

Hold up.  Let me rephrase.  THEY were speaking into the talk that I will be giving.  At a women’s event.  On identity.  WHAT.

Now, can I just be frank for a sec?  Receiving criticism and critique is not exactly my forte.  Because, hello, I’VE GOT THIS, remember?  I can do all of the things on my own, and I don’t need your help, thankyouverymuch.

Except not.  God has for-real humbled me over the past few years and has graciously reminded me that I need help.  I need people speaking into my life and my attitude and my words.  Because, although I want to pretend that I am God’s equal- that I am omniscient and omnipotent and omni-everything- I’m not.  I need people.  And I need HIM.

And so, there I was.  At the table.  My words out in front of people who actually DO this.  Who write and preach and talk.  Seminary people.  Who know their stuff.  And you know what?  SURPRISE.  Their feedback was actually so very helpful.  Vital, even.

I jotted down a lot of notes at that table last night.  I’ve reworked and I’ve revised. And you know the one comment that keeps coming back to me?  That I can’t get out of my mind?

“You’re starting the whole thing by discrediting yourself.  Don’t discredit yourself.

She was referring to my intro.  The words I had written- the words that I had planned to speak- that voiced my fears and hesitancies and inadequacies as a communicator.

Y’all.  I was launching into a talk about God as Creator by completely discrediting the unique way in which He has created me.  In my effort to come across as humble and approachable and honest, I had minimized the gifts and passions He sovereignly appointed to me.

Talk about humbling.

But, as this comment has bounced around in my brain over the past day, it has become so apparent to me how often we all do this.  Particularly women.  I see this exact scenario play out all.the.time:

God calls Suzy to X, Y, or Z.

Suzy says, “Yes, but.  But I’m not good enough.  Smart enough.  Eloquent enough.  Strong enough.”

God says, “I know.  But I Am.”

Suzy goes on to do X, Y, or Z.  Suzy keeps reminding everyone around her that she’s not good enough.  Smart enough.  Eloquent enough.  Strong enough.  Suzy spends a lot of time and effort highlighting her insufficiencies.

Suzy does X, Y, and Z well.  Suzy may even do an excellent job pointing to God and HIS sufficiency.  HIS strength.  But has Suzy really lived out her God-given giftings and abilities with confidence?

Doesn’t sound like it, does it?

Ladies.  Let’s continue to walk humbly.  And sure, let’s acknowledge our shortcomings and insufficiencies because it’s from there that we can point right back to His sufficiency.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

But, y’all, we can’t stop there.  Let’s actually DO that thing He’s called us to do. And let’s do it really stinkin well.  Let’s drop the self-deprecation and proceed onward with boldness and confidence, believing that this is why we’re here.  To do HIS work.  To point right back to Him.

Here’s the deal.  God has given all of us gifts.  Talents.  Abilities.  Passions.  Not one of us is excluded.  We are all gifted.

Humility is not the act of sweeping our gifts and talents under the rug.  Humility is ACTING in those very gifts and and talents and abilities, while acknowledging God as the giver of all good things.  So, when we discredit ourselves and diminish our God-given abilities, I fear we may be stealing some of God’s glory.

Ladies, own your gifts.  Use them.  Boldly.  Unabashedly.  Not because you’re anything particularly awesome or fabulous.  But because HE is.

in which I get vulnerable about women’s ministry

A few days ago a friend sent me a text.  She had seen me promoting a new women’s event at our church and had heard that I was actually VERY EXCITED about the whole thing.  “Really proud of you… considering all your hang ups with women’s ministry stuff!” she said.

Let’s pause for just a sec.  I married a guy who became a pastor.  Like, at a church.  Which means I’m a pastor’s wife.  A pastor’s wife who has “hang ups with women’s ministry stuff.”  Special.

Special but true.  Pastor’s wife or not, I have been known to feel a bit… antsy… about large gatherings of women at church.  As someone who was practically birthed into a pew, it all felt very odd to me.  “I should feel comfortable in the church!  Church has always been my second home!  Why do I feel so disconnected now?”

The demands of mothering littles and navigating a new career depleted the energy needed to invest in real, deep friendships.  I’d show up at church, only to see everyone else with their people.  And when I was home, social media kindly informed me that everyone else was hanging out without me.

I felt duped.  No one had told me that making friends as an adult could be hard.  Messy.  Awkward. This whole “living in community” deal we heard about all the time didn’t always come naturally.  And I certainly was not prepared for these weirdly ambivalent feelings every time I stepped into a room of church-going-Jesus-loving women.

What??  Who even was I?

I really wanted to find someone to blame.  Because pointing fingers at others tends to come a lot more naturally than pointing fingers at one’s own self.  But, as this trend continued, that’s exactly where I landed.  In the awareness that this was about me.  My own ugly heart.

My jealousy.  My feelings of inadequacy. That nasty habit of comparison that makes me feel like an angsty middle schooler all over again.  My unceasing desire to measure up and the inevitable letdown when I don’t.

It was all colliding in the arena of women’s ministry.

God’s brought me a long way.  He’s taken a girl with legit “hangups about women’s ministry stuff” and has given her a mounting sense of excitement about this very thing.  About women.  Women loving Jesus and loving His people and loving His Word.

Y’all, He’s done this.  I have friends texting in surprise.  I have a husband chuckling as I chatter on in my giddy excitement, for he knows the irony all too well.

I guess this is what I’m saying- if you feel like church stuff can be hard, you’re not alone.  Maybe you feel like you’re on the fringes and just can’t get in.  Or you desperately want to feel known and understood and loved, and a room full of strangers feels exceptionally daunting.  Or maybe you show up at women’s events and immediately want to turn back around because everyone else already seems to have their little huddle of friends. And you’re not in it.  Again.  I get it.  

But from one girl-with-hangups to the next, may I just offer a few quick suggestions?

1. Believe the best about others.

I know a lot of women who have been burned by the church.  Who have experienced very real hurt at the hands of church people.  If that’s you, I’m so sorry.

But you know what I have realized over the years?  Most people have good intentions.  They’re not out to get you.  Or to hurt.  Or exclude.

Most people in the church are doing their best.  They genuinely want to be loving and inclusive and welcoming.  Maybe they’re in that huddle because life is imploding for one of their people, and, for them, this is precisely what love looks like in this moment.

Maybe they’re just having a horrible day, and the fact that they’re at church at all is an act of God in itself.

Or perhaps you’re waiting around for someone else to take the initiative and to welcome you in, while it’s quite possible they’re in the exact same boat.  Waiting to be welcomed.  Waiting for someone else to take the initiative.

2. Take the initiative.

Stop waiting around for someone else to make the first move.  Put on your big girl pants, embrace the awkwardness, and do it yourself.  Chance are, the other person will be so glad you did.  And if she’s not, it’s her loss.  Which reminds me of my next point…

3. Don’t make me a liar, church people.  For the love, DO YOUR BEST.

Be nice.  Smile.  Introduce yourself to people who look new.  Hang out with that person sitting alone.  Come on now, we’ve got this.  This should be a no-brainer.

4. Deal with your own junk.

I know I’m not the only woman who feels the jealousy.  Who compares.  Who has felt resentment toward others.  Who has taken things entirely too personally.  Who has made church about ME rather than HIM.

Y’all, own up to it.  And then, turn the other way.  Confess, repent, and MOVE ON.

5. Keep showing up.

Even if you want to run for the hills, show up.  Even if you feel like everyone else has it all together, show up.  Even if you feel anonymous, like no one would even miss your absence, show up.

Because eventually, you’ll see that you’re not alone.  You’ll find that women’s ministry is messy and intimidating for many.  You’ll see that it can stir up all kinds of insecurities in all kinds of women.  No doubt, you’ll see that no one has it all together.

Hopefully, as you keep showing up and you keep worshipping together and you keep digging into His Word in community, your view of Jesus will begin to grow larger and greater.  And, as this happens, His greatness will surely begin to crowd out your insecurities and mess.

That’s the goal.  That’s the real win, people.

For the church to love others really ridiculously well because we’ve been loved first.

For the insiders and the well-connected to rush to the fringes because God welcomed us into His family and spared nothing in the process.

And for every one of us to remember that, no matter how well-connected we may be or how many hangups and issues we may have, we were ALL far off when He came near. That not one of us exists outside of His grace.  And, from that place and out of that understanding, we worship.  Together.  As one body made up of a lot of jacked-up, saved-by-grace sinners.

TG-SM-3

One final note.  If you’re in the Raleigh area and are looking for a place to connect with other women… to gather together in worship and teaching and prayer… I’ve got you covered.  The North Raleigh Campus of The Summit Church is launching The Gathering- a monthly coming together of women to do just that.  Gather.  Worship.  Learn.  Pray.  Our inaugural Gathering is TOMORROW, Friday May 13th, at the Summit’s North Raleigh Campus.  Doors open at 6:30.

If you feel well-connected, this is for you.  

If you feel like you’re on the fringes and women’s ministry stuff scares the mess out of you, this is for you.  

Whether you grew up in the church or are completely creeped out by churchy things, this is for you.

We’d be SO THRILLED to see you there!

Dear church people, stop whining and do something. (Or, don’t be like me.)

Eight years ago, I jumped into the workforce as a brand new mama.  New city, new baby, new career and new master’s degree hot off the press.  As a bright eyed, idealistic nurse practitioner out to save the world, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.  I just wanted to help kids.  (Also, I wanted our family to have food and shelter while my husband went to seminary.  That was also kind of vital.)

It took approximately zero time for my bright eyes to become glazed over as I realized that working + being a mom + being a wife + being all of the other things was no walk in the park.  It was hard.  And I felt alone.

So, for years, I whined about it.  I complained.  I became fixated on all of the stay-at-home moms at church who did it all- who had playdates in the mornings while I worked and who hung out in the evenings when I could hardly function- and I became bitter.  My thoughts arced inward, solely focusing on my own sorry self.  How I felt.  How I was drowning.  I felt isolated.  Self-centeredness seems to do that to you.  Every single time.

Had I been willing to look out rather than constantly gazing within, I would have seen reality.  I would have noticed the tribe of women surrounding me navigating careers and motherhood with a whole heck of a lot more grace than I was.  I could have listened to their stories, their wisdom.

Or, you know, maybe I would have seen the women drowning right next to me.  Flailing their arms.  Gasping for a breath.  Maybe I could have pointed them to shore on those rare days I could actually catch a glimpse of it.  Or at least given them the head nod of solidarity.  The look of “Girrrrl, I KNOW.  I’m right there with you.”

A few weeks ago, I attended an event at my church that my friend, April, had spent months planning and promoting.  They called the event “Women in the Workplace”, and the discussion that followed centered on just that.  How do we, as women, navigate careers, families, and church well?  What do we do when it feels hard?  Is “doing it all” even a thing, or is it some mythical creation of our minds?  How does the gospel intersect with our work?

Y’all, it was phenomenal.  The wisdom shared from the panel discussion was so rich, and the connections I made that morning were God-appointed.  However, you know what was the absolute best?  Looking around the room and seeing heads nod.  Because, finally, there was a community gathered to acknowledge that, “Man, this is really flippin hard some days. But this is what we’ve learned.”

I came home encouraged.  Really encouraged.  But I also came home convicted.  Really seriously convicted.

Do you know why there were 50+ women at church early on a Saturday morning?  Why I was able to be the recipient of such wisdom and experience?  Why dozens of women, desperate to live out their faith in their workplaces, nodded their heads in unison as they finally felt heard and understood?

Why?  Because my friend felt many of the same things when she jumped into the workforce as a mom and wife.  Like me, she thought it was really hard to balance it all.  Like me, she felt alone.  But UNLIKE me, she did something about it.  I moped and complained.  She gathered people.  I looked within.  She looked to others.

This happens all the time, right?  We see holes, gaps, and areas of need, and we wait for the fixers and doers to show up.

We hope for a more vibrant women’s ministry.

We wish our kid’s ministry would just offer x, y, and z.

We just don’t understand why our church doesn’t seem to do this or care about that.

But the truth is, while we’re standing around sighing about the problems we see and the change we desire, we don’t even pause to think that WE may very well be the fixer we’re anxiously awaiting.  We tap our impatient little feet waiting for someone to hear us out, grab ahold of our passions, and get ‘er done while we refuse to put our own feet to the pavement and start doing it ourselves.

Am I just preaching at myself here?

Whatev.  While I’m getting all preachy, I have one final word to all of you church people out there.  Heeeey.  K, listen.  Pastors are great.  And they do a lot.  I’m married to one- I KNOW.  But you wanna know a little secret?  They can’t do everything.  And for many of them, it’s hard to come to terms with this.  So when you approach them with an idea that gets you all fired up with excitement, don’t leave their office in a tizzy if their response is, “That’s awesome! You do it, and we’ll help!”  No.  Because often, the best leaders are those who empower and equip others to go out and lead well.  Be grateful you have such a leader.

So, dear friends, I end with this sage piece of advice: don’t be like me.  Don’t be a grump and sit around wishing for things to change.  Do something about it.  Put in the hard work.  The blood, sweat, and tears.  Because that’s precisely when the exciting things happen.  And it’s where the beauty of the body of Christ, with all of its different pieces and parts and giftings and talents and passions, becomes most evident.

(Plus, no one likes whiners.  There’s that, too.)

women in the workplace

photo cred: Ashley Gormon

fever pitch

I feel this thing happening around me.  I’ve felt it, heard it, seen it for a while, and it seems as though it’s now reaching fever pitch.

Women.  Hungry.  For more.  For God.

Women tired of living in their bubbles of isolation.  Exhausted from keeping up with the front they post on their Instagram feed.  Desperate to be known.

Women who are owning and using their God-given gifts even when it seems a heck of a lot safer- and certainly a whole lot easier- to diminish them or sweep them under the rug.

Women doing their things and doing them well.  Homeschooling.  Number-crunching.  Advocating.  Litigating.  Worship-leading.  Discipling.  Teaching.  Endless-bedtime-stories-reading.

Our roles are many, and our giftings and talents span far and wide.  That’s the beauty of the body of Christ, my friends.  We can’t do it all ourselves, nor are we supposed to try.  We do our thing, and we do it well.  And as we do so, we begin to see glimpses of the fullness of God’s greatness.  I get all jittery with excitement just thinking about this.  (Or maybe that’s the third cup of coffee I’ve already polished off this morning.  God has gifted me in some areas.  Moderation in coffee consumption is not one of them.)

Here’s the thing, though.  Satan would love nothing more than to see this fervor fizzle out.  To crush us with fear and comparison and exhaustion.  To watch as we try to satisfy our thirst for God with anything but.

We can be all “rah rah rah” about ministry- whatever our ministry looks like in this season- but that fiery passion we feel will be extinguished in no time at all if we’re not grounding ourselves in truth.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Satan lies.  He is the father of lies.  It’s what he does and who he is.  And the only sure-fire antidote to Satan’s deception is God’s truth.

If we’re going to lead- in the home, workplace, church, or community- we’re putting ourselves in a frighteningly precarious spot if we’re not saturating ourselves with His truth.  If we’re not in His word.  Like, a lot.

Y’all, as we seek His ways, let’s not give up on seeking His face.  May we not get so caught up in what we’re doing for God that we forget who God is.  Because not only is He the reason for which we do all the things we do, but He’s the source of all that’s necessary to do these things well.

So, in light of that, let’s be women who flat out refuse to be defined by our successes or failures.  Women who say with confidence that WHAT we do is not WHO we are.  Women who, yes, are passionate.  Women who create and dream and do.  But women who dream all the things and do all the things with a firm foundational knowledge of who our God is.  Faithful.  Able.  Loving.  Just.  Full of mercy.  Overflowing with grace.

Our Help when things seem impossible.

Our Sustainer when we get tired.  So. very. tired.

Our Rescuer because we are utterly lost and broken without Him.

And then, from that, we carry on.  Doing the things.  Loving the people.  Rooted in truth.  Fueled by His astounding love.

Y’all ready?  Because I’m pumped.