Sunday, November 27, 2011

Woman Haters

By Nicole Unice

It was a chic bistro with gourmet sandwiches, and it was a lunch I looked forward to all week. I had the chance to sit with a trio of smart, influential, successful women in ministry. I was eager to share, to learn, to be encouraged. We talked about changing our churches and changing the world. The conversation turned to friendships, and then, this statement:

“Well, I don’t really like women.”

I’ve heard this said more times than I can count. And worse: I’m guilty of saying it myself. Between the delicious food and stimulating conversation, I found my palate sour.

Who but us women, I marveled to myself, can actually destroy from within.

The statement itself is ludicrous. What other species on this earth claims to not like themselves? Can you imagine a similar lunch experience with four men, where one of them exclaims, “I don’t really like men?”

And so I disturbed the calm and asked, “What do you mean about not liking women?” We agreed that when we say “women” we mean a certain kind of woman, and we let that kind of woman dominate our understanding of the gender.

When I’ve said “I don’t like women,” what I’ve meant is that I don’t like women who choose the superficial over the authentic. I don’t like women who try to control those around them. I don’t like women who are so wracked by comparison and envy that they spend their energy cutting others down to pull themselves up.

But I don’t like men like that either.

Why would I, a woman, choose to distance myself from my own gender? Perhaps it’s because I recognize how I’m sometimes like the women I dislike. Maybe it’s because I’m ashamed of women like this and don’t want to be classified as the same. I also know that I’m resentful of women who’ve led in unhealthy ways before me, leaving a path of destruction that has made it hard for me to find my way. But maybe, more than anything, I’ve slowly allowed this crazy worldview of women to creep into my own; I’ve seen that woman equals weakness and I’d rather not be associated with that thankyouverymuch.

These woman-hating statements are not far from a similar one: “I hate women’s ministry.” I doubt any woman thinks that actually ministering to women is wrong or bad or outdated (Jesus ministered to plenty). It’s that we’ve allowed the conversation about “women’s ministry” to be dominated by scathing critiques of knitting circles, beauty treatments and superficiality.

But as the conversation at lunch continued, the eldest at the table pointed out that good and kind women’s ministries have ministered faithfully for decades. That the women who lead them (crafts aside!) have stalwartly carried churches on their backs while simultaneously serving their husbands, their families, their volunteer roles, their schools. That some of these women have saved souls, saved marriages, saved men.

Yet we allow our concept of “women” and “women’s ministry” to be defined by a warped view. We women often allow that to continue, perhaps even perpetuate it.

The unspoken assumption during lunch between us women in ministry was that when we say “we don’t like women” or we “hate women’s ministry,” we exclude ourselves from the entire category. My heart ached in that moment, when I realized I was very close to turning into the exact kind of woman I want to distance myself from.

I don’t have the answers. But I do know that there’s something fundamentally wrong with being a woman and a “woman hater.” It doesn’t honor one another or God nor does it encourage one another to live out our influence.

Can you relate?

Nicole Unice is a woman on a mission to bring others to confidence and daily faith in God and his Word. She is the author of She's Got Issues, (Tyndale) releasing in May 2012 and work in student and family ministry at Hope Church in Richmond, VA. Find out more about her writing, speaking and musings on life, motherhood, ministry and God at or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holy Indecision! Finding Confidence in Christ

By Jenny Rae Armstrong

To say I have a hard time making decisions is a little like saying Imelda Marcos had a thing for shoes. You know that woman who stands paralyzed in the cereal aisle, chewing her lip like the fate of the free world rests on whether she chooses Original or Cinnamon Life? That’s me. And when it comes to serious “life” decisions, forget it. I’d rather stay home in my PJs, enjoying the kind that can be neatly contained in my cereal bowl.

Part of this is my personality, but the real reason I struggle to make decisions is because I grew up terrified of making the wrong one, of messing up, of failing. And failure, I discerned at an early age, was unacceptable for good Christian girls. We not only had to avoid sinning, we had to avoid even the appearance of evil, uphold a good name that was “esteemed more than silver or gold,” and basically impress people so they, too, would become Christians. No one said it quite like that, of course, but I knew what was expected of me.

This isn’t as surface-level as it sounds. I had fallen madly in love with Jesus, and had a deep soul-desire to please him, to honor him with my life. But ironically, performance-based anxiety and its big sister, pride, kept my patent leather Mary Janes frozen to the floorboards when I sensed Jesus inviting me to get out of the boat, to follow him into the open seas of life, to trust him. What if I didn’t have enough faith? What if I started to sink, and made him (read: me) look bad? He probably wasn’t calling me—he was probably calling that guy behind me, the one who had been to seminary. He looked like the type who could walk on water, and besides, I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t want me to risk ruining my shoes.

It wasn’t until I experienced a couple colossal failures in my adult life, and developed a tangible understanding of grace, that I began to relax into Jesus’ love for me and discover the freedom to follow wherever he called. Not because I was good enough, but because he was, and I could trust him to work in me and through me as I surrendered myself to him. My self-sufficient American churchianity slowly gave way to a 2 Corinthians 12:9 understanding of my relationship with Christ: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Don’t get me wrong—you still wouldn’t want to be stuck behind me in a busy supermarket. But the further I walk with Christ, the more willing I am to step out in faith – potential failures and all. I’m growing more and more confident that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion. After all, isn’t that the point?

Rae Armstrong is an award-winning freelance writer who is passionate about building up the body of Christ by building up women. She blogs about faith, women’s issues, and whatever else is on her mind at Drop by and say hi!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Can One Person Do?: More Than We Know

By Elisabeth K. Corcoran

“I look at the enormity of the problem and I can’t help but think, ‘what can one person do?’” Not only did I used to think that way, but I used to allow that to be an excuse to paralyze me from action. But I don’t believe that lie anymore. One person can do much.

One person can pray with all she’s got, begging God to intervene in any situation, to pour out his power, to give her wisdom to know what she can and should do.

One person can give of her time in a way that will be a sacrifice to her and of great benefit to others.

One person can give money…even a little bit of money…and that can be added to what others have given and then multiplied when God steps in.

One person can call attention to an issue that is usually talked about in hushed tones…making people aware of something they may have had no idea about.

One person can enter into the darkness, carrying her little bit of light, and shed great illumination where only dim shadows used to dwell.

One person can touch another person’s life in small ways – with a kind word, a gentle touch, a moment of time to listen and hold and cry with.

One person can take her gifts and pour them out into someone else’s life, knowing that freely has she received and freely should she give.

One person can take her hurt and ask Christ to turn it into a blessing as she connects with the pain of another hurting heart.

One person can move into another person’s life in large ways – with a shout against injustice, a rallying of a group to do something of meaning, a hand reaching out to draw someone out of their circumstances permanently.

We’re told time and again that we as women have the ability to set the tone of our homes and our communities. That our daughters will learn how to be women and mothers by watching and modeling after us, and that our sons will grow up to look for wives that mirror their mothers. Our neighbors will look to us and see if Jesus is real by what we choose to spend our lives on.

We have been given not just the ability, but the responsibility, to do great good. One life at a time. In our homes. In our communities. And in our world.

Today can be the day that we allow our one life to do a world of good in someone else’s life.

What can one person do in comparison to the vastness of our world’s problems? So very much. Each moment of light can dispel a lifetime of darkness, because light wins out every time.

“You are the light of the world. . . let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 14, 16

Elisabeth Corcoran is the author of At the Corner of Broken & Love: Where God Meets Us in the Everyday (Westbow), One Girl, Third World: One Woman’s Journey into Social Justice (Kindle, Amazon), He Is Just That Into You: Stories of a Faithful God who Pursues, Engages, and Has No Fear of Commitment (WinePress), In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother’s Heart (Xulon), and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom’s Weary Soul (Kregel). All these books can be purchased on in paperback or Kindle. She is a proud member of the Redbud Writers’ Guild. Visit her at

Monday, November 7, 2011

Act Boldly Now

By Halee Scott

It’s no great secret that women face many challenges in the path to leadership. From limited opportunities to the tension of balancing work and family to misperceptions about the way we lead, many are the things that impede our way to progress. Yet through my work as a leadership professor and consultant and through my life as a Christian, I’ve become convinced that the primary challenge for women is -- Are you ready? Because this will hurt -- the primary challenge that we face on the path to ministry is ourselves.

In the book of Ruth – besides the story of Ruth herself, we encounter the story of Naomi. Often when we read or study the book of Ruth, Ruth’s courage and conviction become the focus of our study. In the shadow of Ruth’s faith, it is easy to overlook Naomi. Naomi’s troubles begin when she is driven from her home because of poor economic conditions. Today we’d describe it as an economic recession or a depression.

At first, the move-to-Moab plan seemed successful. Even in the face of her difficult financial situation, even in the midst of the loss of her home, she still described herself and her life as full. She and her family were able to find food; both of her sons were able to find wives. But then, devastation came and Naomi lost her husband along with both of her sons. Sit with her a minute. Imagine what it would be like to lose your husband, your children, or other family and friends that you rely on.

Maybe some of you have.

All of a sudden, Naomi is plunged into a world of complete loss. She is faced not only with the emotional devastation of losing her husband and sons, but also losing the security of her whole life. Her future and her own existence are a big question mark. In this time of loss, her perspective shifts. She loses hope. She tries to send her daughters-in-law away, saying to them, “It is more bitter for me than you.” She asks that people no longer call her Naomi, which means “pleasant or sweet” and instead call her Mara, which means “bitter.” Both the circumstances of her life and her response to it are bitter.

But God had not abandoned Naomi. As we know, she had at her side a daughter-in-law of incredible faith and courage, and through their circumstances, God was able to bring about a plan that ultimately ushered in the crowning act in all of creation—the salvation of people through Jesus Christ.

Could Naomi, in the land of Moab – the land of great loss -- have imagined this? When I look at Naomi and then I look at my own life, I have to ask myself how many times I have let bitterness and discouragement keep me from doing what God has called me to. How many times have I let my circumstances detract me or distract me from the sweet spot that God has called me too?

It doesn’t just have to be discouragement or disappointment or heartache that keeps us from our calling. It could be overfilled lives or hectic schedules. How many times have I overlooked an opportunity to minister because I was so busy that I didn’t see the need right in front of me?

If we are very honest, the greatest challenge that we have to face in our ministries, in our path to living out our callings, is not the limitations imposed on us by others, but the limitations we impose on ourselves.

The future of ministry by women is in our hands. God is calling women to share in the work of his kingdom. And there is work to be done. We don’t have to look farther than the daily news to see how much the world needs God’s people. In fact, we don’t have to look farther than our own neighborhood or our own church community. What can you do in your context, despite the challenges you face, to act boldly now? Not next month or next year or after you finish seminary or raise your children, but here, today, this week? Reflect on this, because every one of us has a part to play in the future of ministry by women.

Halee Gray Scott, PhD, is an author, independent scholar, and researcher. Currently, she serves as a professor of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Wesley Seminary and a professor of theology at A.W. Tozer Seminary. She has an M.A. In Religion. Her mission and passion is to help people learn to live, love, and lead well through leadership development and spiritual formation. Join the conversation on leadership and spiritual formation on her website,