In the immortal words of singer Percy Sledge “when a man loves a woman….he’d change the world for the good thing he’s found.” My friend Rob from California loves women- and is changing the world because of it. He loves women so much that he has dedicated a significant part of his life and leadership to being an advocate for women and girls in his life. Today, he graciously agreed to share his thoughts to use his power as an advocate for women. Check out his blog and leave him a nice comment. We bloggers are a comment hungry bunch. Show us some love!
ADVOCACY: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME
Over the years, it has been my joy to advocate for women around me, both in my life and in my ministry context. Indeed, using the power, privilege and access that culture gives me because of my gender to advocate for women has been a transformational experience, both for me and the women around me.
For me, advocacy has meant empathizing when a colleague has been hurt because of negative gender stereotypes.
Advocacy has meant theological engagement with people who are asking women in my life and ministry to take back seat because of their gender. One time, I endured a 2 hour debate highlighted by me being repeatedly called a “false teacher” because of my position on the issue.
Advocacy has meant intentionally investing in women, mentoring them and developing their leadership gifts.
Advocacy has meant hiring women into leadership roles in my organization, leveraging my positional power to gain for them some measure of such power. For instance, when I started leading my current ministry team, there was one woman. Last Fall, during a meeting, I looked around and realized I was the only man in the room.
The bottom line, then, is that I see advocacy for the women around me as a key part of my ministerial calling. After all, advocacy is a Biblical idea. Proverbs 31:8 reads like this: “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, ensure justice for those being crushed.”
But here’s the thing…I’m no hero.
What I mean is that I’m not doing this because these women are charity cases. Far from it. Instead, these women deserve the opportunities they find themselves in. Sometimes, people will thank me for advocating for women, but I just see it as a way to honor Jesus and advance our Gospel mission.
And, on top of that, I continue to benefit personally from advocacy. Here’s what I mean.
First, it is a joy to watch someone you’ve advocated for flourish. I coach girls soccer, and there is no greater satisfaction than watching the team achieve on the field after a hard week of practice. In the same way, when advocacy results in someone flourishing, it’s a great blessing to the advocate. It is a powerful experience to watch my friend Beth use her exhortation gift, and knowing that I’ve had a role in opening doors for her to use that gift? It feels awesome.
Next, I get to be shaped by gifted and godly women. My experience has been that God has used the women that I’ve empowered to shape me. As just one example, I blend grace and truth in my leadership far more effectively because I’ve seen that modeled by Layla and Tina, two gifted women that God has allowed me to advocate for over the years.
Finally, by advocating, I believe I get more of Jesus in my life. American culture gives me power by because of my gender. I call it male privilege. And by opting to submit that privilege to Jesus, in the same way I would my car, my house or my bank account, Jesus gains more control of my life, and I gain a greater sense of partnership with what he is up to in the world. In this way, advocacy actually draws me closer to Jesus.
So, in the end, I’m grateful that God has used me as an advocate. Because of what’s in it for the women in my life.
And because of what’s in it for me.