Who is your favorite biblical hero? Who, when you read about them, inspires you to bold action and encourages you to act courageously in your walk with God? Who would you like to have join your small group or ministry team? Who would you ask to mentor you, if you could?
In this issue we celebrate seven women, listed on the previous page, who certainly qualify as heroes, and all of us, women and men, can learn from them. But while this issue is about women heroes, in this letter I want to address my fellow men.
As I read the articles about these biblical heroes, I learned several things.
First, I learned what genuine faith looks like from these women. The writers of these seven articles—all of them women—identified quite a few attributes and virtues these heroes possessed. Many of them lived lives of high (even noble) character. Several made difficult, costly choices by trusting God through steadfast prayer. All had great faith—in God and his word—and were in close relationship with God. Some faced danger, some rejection, and some death, but they demonstrated bravery, strength, courage, wisdom, and perseverance regardless of the sacrifice.
These women had hearts that were dedicated to God and his purposes, obeyed God’s call to be leaders in their spheres of influence, boldly stood up for the good of others, and humbly gave all the credit to God.
If this list sounds like a description of any true follower of God—woman or man—it is!
I also learned how God views women. Several of these women were God’s choice to carry out his plans, some in relatively small ways—or so it may have seemed at the time—and some in magnificent, world-changing ways. God revealed his purposes to these women and then placed them in positions where they could make a difference. Obviously, God held these women in high esteem.
I also learned from the men in these women’s lives. As I read these articles and the Bible passages on which they’re based, I asked myself, How did these men treat the women in their lives, and how could they have done better? How did they work as a team with these women for God’s purposes? How were the women and men in the stories used to carry out God’s will?
Finally, by studying this topic I learned more about how I as a man should view and treat women, and I believe these articles provide us all a timely opportunity to do the same.
According to Gallup, just 47 percent of Americans are now affiliated with a church; it’s the first time this metric has dropped below 50 percent. Worse, the younger the age group, the lower the percentage of church affiliation. The reasons for this are numerous, and I plan to speak more about this in my next letter. But we can’t discount the declining reputation of the church and church leaders in our culture. The proliferation of scandals within the church, especially sexual abuse, predatory behavior, and cover-ups—which usually involve a male leader exploiting a woman or girl—has had a pernicious effect.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission, recently wrote on his blog that people “come to think the church doesn’t believe its own moral teachings . . . when they see the church covering up predatory behavior in its institutions.”
“If people reject the church because they reject Jesus and the gospel, we should be saddened but not surprised,” says Moore. “But what happens when people reject the church because they think we reject Jesus and the gospel?”
This is one of many reasons leaders are called to live “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2). God’s Word warns us about what lust can do to us and our reputations (see Job 31:1-4; Proverbs 6:25-29). But what about when it also ruins the reputation of Christ’s bride? Jesus suggested we take drastic measures to abate this issue (Matthew 5:28-30).
Of course, sexual abuse scandals are only one way—albeit an abhorrent way—men miss the mark in how we view and treat women as God calls us to. Regardless, we must not shy away from discussing this issue; we should get whatever help is needed and seek repentance and accountability. What else can we do to grapple with this issue? What can church leaders do to help prevent it from happening in the first place? I’d love to hear your feedback.
Let’s take this issue seriously, remembering Jesus’ vision for his bride as “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27).
Two More New Columns: In our May/June issue, we launched two new columns—“Lead,” by Don Wilson and “Preach,” by Chris Philbeck. In this issue we’re adding two more. “Heal,” by Dr. Wes Beavis—who has served as a pastor in Restoration Movement churches, as a licensed clinical psychologist, and as an author—will help ministry leaders navigate the leadership journey in healthy ways. In “Engage,” Tyler McKenzie, lead pastor at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, will discuss the interface between culture and the church. Have questions for any of our columnists? Please send them to CS@christianstandardmedia.com.