Women Leaders: Strength and Dignity
As the month of May winds down to a close, I find myself reflecting back on some significant “firsts.” Earlier in the month I had the honor of speaking at the first Asian American Pacific Islander Women’s Leadership Conference. Women, along with some incredibly supportive men, from across the country and from as far as the UK gathered in Southern California. We represented leaders from different churches, parachurch organizations and seminaries. Our families originated from throughout Asia. Our experiences were as varied as the languages we or our parents spoke, and the countries we or our parents came from. But as we shared our stories, we found common ground in our struggles and challenges. Friendships were forged. Some were rekindled. We left encouraged, understood, inspired, validated and hope-filled. We were not alone as we sought to live out God’s call on our lives.
The middle of May found me traveling for the first time to the Chicago area to attend the first Redbud Writers Guild retreat. Thirty of the fifty-eight of us gathered as we pursued living out our tag line of: fearlessly expanding the feminine voice in our churches, community and culture. Again, our experiences were varied. Our journey as writers was as unique as the fingerprints found on our laptop keys. But as we shared our stories, we found common ground in our struggles and challenges. We received input, we brainstormed, we dreamed. Names, faces and voices connected. We left encouraged, understood, inspired, validated and hope-filled. We were not alone as we sought to live out God’s call on our lives.
In both settings I found myself looking around and wondering out loud, “How in the world did I end up in a room together with such amazing, high-caliber women?!” Both settings included women leaders with multiple advanced degrees, hearts aflame with love for God, ministry experiences across the country and around the globe, vision for being a part of righting the wrongs in this world and the shared agreement to build up rather than compete against each other. We were intentional about acknowledging differences while remaining unified. In both settings we knew as women leaders our collective voice gave us strength to contribute uniquely in the various spheres of influence we walked and ministered. In both groups these women leaders held a high view of men. And we understood through advocacy, mutual respect and support from good and godly men that men AND women togetherpaints a fuller, deeper picture of God’s character and the message of Hope for our hurting world. Not surprisingly, both of these groups have been positively influenced by the Synergy Women’s Network. The message of Synergy resonates in our core how we are created as image bearers, warriors and how together with our husbands and brothers we are to walk in the good works God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10).
My heart is concerned and saddened by the confusion and nastiness I often see online as it relates to Christian women and leadership. I have godly friends on both sides of the theological spectrum. I have studied and read side by side the writings on the various passages in the Bible addressing women and leadership written by men and women who love God wholeheartedly. This blog purposely does not include a book list and blog roll. I don’t want readers to draw conclusions and dismiss my writing based on who I read or don’t read. I welcome dialog, discussion and have come to believe reading widely is helpful in broadening our understanding of who God is and how we reflect Him through our culture, gender, gifting and experiences.
My fellow Redbud, Stephanie, tweeted this Chinese proverb today:
When sleeping women wake, mountains move.
The women leaders I have been privileged to link arms with through the API Women’s Leadership conference and Redbud Writers Guild display strength and dignity that is feminine and powerful. Their faith, character, vision, and voice will surely cause mountains to move. Mark my words.