Know. Your. Place.
It’s a familiar saying that is usually voiced as a trite adage towards women - a phrase that at times has quieted us and held us back. But I’d like to reclaim the phrase as a badge of honor for women and men alike. See I was reminded this week of the need to support one another, to continue dreaming big for our world and our impact on it. The need to put our weapons down and not fight each other or the beautiful men in our worlds. The need to work together.
A little over four years ago, I had just resigned from an almost 7 year journey with the Contemporary Christian Artist Group, Avalon. My husband and I knew it was time to move on simply because I was ready to focus more on being home and with my growing family. We had no definitive plan, but within 2 weeks I was hired at GracePointe Church to not only lead the music, but as the Pastor of Worship and Arts. GP is an interdenominational church and the Pastor, Stan Mitchell, believes in the full ordination of women. He believes in finding the right person with both competency and heart to match to help lead his church no matter the gender.
Here I was—this once Baptist girl who never dreamed of being a pastor—now on her way to ordination and working in a place where I was able to use all of my strengths and skills – singing, leading, shepherding, studying, curating, dreaming, etc… I was unbelievably fulfilled in my new role (and continue to be so 4 years later).
Here was the slight rub. In the world I lived in most of the leaders were predominantly men. A simple look at the CCM music charts at the time displayed a ratio of probably 10 to 1 of male singers to female. The business side was also male heavy. The evangelical church (because of their convictions) from which I came was predominantly male-led as well. So when I started announcing my new position, I was told everything from, “That’s amazing that they honor women!” and “Congratulations!”, to “Really?” and a dear friend who said, ”If you, as a woman, are in that position as the Worship Pastor, it must be because a man somewhere did not step up. A man somewhere did not follow his calling.”
Sigh…He was very sincere but my heightened response then and my much calmer response still today is, “No, friend. I believe I am in this position because God has gifted me to lead.”
Last week I found myself surrounded by many insightful women who are affecting our world.
One of them, Lisa Jo Baker, specifically encouraged me as a mom with a full time job to not feel ashamed of what I’m doing for the kingdom. Instead she challenged me to invite my children into that story. To show my children that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and to involve them in the big things God has called me to do as their mom. To bring them along to the prison ministry and to the fields of Africa. To show them what mommy and daddy are actually doing when we are away from them. To tell them that this is their inheritance as well—to make a difference in our world and to serve others. To tell them, they too have a place—a unique and important place.
I flew home to attend my church’s women’s retreat with Rachel Held Evans. Rachel encouraged us to rethink the way we read Proverbs 31. To not use it as a check list, but, as the Jewish culture does, to sing those words over the women in our lives. To proclaim Eshet Chayil– Women of Valor. A woman of valor I want to tell you about is Callie Waltz. Callie doesn’t get more than 4 hours sleep at any given time. She does not work right now in order to attend the special needs of her children and yet she is PURE JOY. She volunteers at the church and volunteers at the shelter downtown. She gives and gives and gives. When it was pouring down rain at the retreat, Callie was the one soaking wet, directing the cars in the dark so the rest of us could not only get picked up but also not get wet. She “knows her place” and right now it is as a mom and a generous woman. She stands humbly in it and she is beautiful to watch.
Lastly, on Sunday morning at GracePointe, Dr. A.J. Levine – a Jewish, New Testament Scholar came to speak and dialogue. She graciously invited our church into her story and her heritage without negating our position as followers of Jesus Christ. It was compelling, enriching, smart, funny and challenging. She also “knows her place” and she is humble and confident in it.
Women, I have to tell you that I believe we also should all know our place.
Be it as a home-school teacher, local business owner, or corporate world traveler.
Be it as a cook for the local homeless shelter, someone who sponsors a child from a humanitarian organization, or someone who physically moves to the soil of Africa.
Be it as a submissive wife, a co – leader in your home, or a single parent and head of your household.
Be it as a volunteer in your church’s children’s ministry, a worship leader, or the Ordained Pastor of the church.
I don’t think we are all called or even skilled to do the same things and it’s not about women versus men. Instead of discouraging someone else from their place, let’s find our own place and choose to commit to it and pursue excellence in it. Let’s start affirming one another and all we are called to individually.
Let’s show ourselves strong, humble, competent, confident, gracious, peacemaking, and brave.
Yes. Yes. Let’s all know our place.