(This is Part 2 in a series about empowering femininity. Part 1 is “Woman of God, Will You Lead the Church?“)
One of my deep desires is to empower women and encourage them to come alive in their natures as women.
This post is about how to do that.
A prominent guitarist was desperate to meet the creator of industry-leading guitar pedals and effects, Pete Cornish, so he traveled all the way from the United States to England to find him. He had to see what gave Cornish’s boards such clear effects and how he eliminated the white noise and background hum to produce such a beautiful sound.
What he found surprised him.
When he questioned whether Cornish used noise gates or hush technologies to reduce the hum, the master effects guru looked at him matter-of-factly and responded, “We remove the problem at the source. We don’t deal with the symptoms, we remove the problem.”
That’s the thing about solutions, to find them you have to go beyond symptoms and on to source.
The same is true with people.
C.S. Lewis famously noted,
We remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
We cut off their testicles and tell male horses to reproduce (that’s what that^ means). We do the same with women. We sabotage design by missing purpose. We kill what is most essential in our hearts while trying to fix what we dislike or devalue about society. And the static grows stronger around us.
It’s the source that matters, not the symptoms.
That sound you hear overtop C.S. Lewis is the hiss of popular society distorting the soundtrack to which men and women are orchestrated — which was designed specifically by God — while they try to coax a gelding who stands nutless with a funny look on his face in the corner of a pasture to procreate.
It’s God’s song. The best we can do is clear up the static by going straight to the source. And hear the music he intends our hearts to play.
God loves women (he loves feminists!). He loves men. He wants to empower the qualities and nature of womanhood so each woman comes alive with hope and purpose in her life. Everyone else should want that too. This is called femininity. Femininity is “the quality or nature of the female sex.” It is the music that plays within a woman’s heart, what makes her uniquely a woman. Feminism, on the other hand, is defined as advocating “women’s rights and interests.” It ranks in the top 1% of most popular words on Merriam-Webster. It is the 26th most searched word in the world.
Ironically, femininity is what feminism purports to advance. It is what feminists are really searching for. They’re trying to advance femininity; but in an attempt to right society’s wrongs and counter the invalidation and abuse of countless women, they seek to make women no different than men. Now, this is admirable in civil rights. But this mindset is downright frightening when it infiltrates the church. Because men and women are designed to be different there. To play different parts in the drama, in the home and the church. And that’s a good thing.
But femininity ranks so low — it’s so unpopular — that it’s in the bottom 40% of words searched. The word hopeless gets more look-ups than femininity.
Yet that’s where hope in this is found. The “quality or nature of the female sex.” It holds no one’s attention. It is vastly unnoticed. It is unsexy and uncool today, though between its letters is the most captivating and astonishing meaning in the world. It is what it is to be a woman. There are very few Pete Cornishs that know that’s exactly where we have to go if we’re really going to solve the need to empower women.
And that’s what we need. To empower women. To empower femininity. Not feminists. God forbid, we need to disempower feminists and forget the mindsets that focus on society’s symptoms without godly, design-based solutions.
We’ll only hear the clear sound of women’s true hearts if we empower the source.
Noise gates and hush technologies will give us nothing but a dimmer hiss.
How to Make Her Love Being a Woman
1. Listen to the Women Around You
I’m not an expert at any of this, but I’m learning. To empower femininity we have to begin with listening to women (Call me crazy!). My father is a pro at this. He listens to my Mom and practices the skill of recognizing wisdom in her. Exercise this gift. As a husband, church leader, or pastor you don’t have to come up with every brilliant plan for your family or church. If you practice the skill of listening to your wife and recognizing her brilliant ideas you will be a wise man (again, this is coming from a young guy who’s still learning).
My wife and I are intimately involved in starting a church plant. I listen very carefully to every piece of advice she gives and I treat it like gold. I can’t think of one time her advice has turned out bad, but countless times I’ve realized instantly her advice was perfect. I’m making this skill my practice. Like my Dad, I don’t need to be the brilliant one; I just need to recognize brilliance when I see it.
Conversely, my wife doesn’t need to pastor our church or be the head of our family to be respected, but she needs to be heard. And I’d be a bad leader if I didn’t recognize her wisdom in either context.
2. Put Her Dreams Above Your Own
Also, I need to listen to my wife’s dreams. This is one of my favorite practices, because I love her. When she starts talking about anything that sounds like a passion or dream, I listen intently. I ask questions. I want to know exactly what her dream is — what her passion is — because I want her dreams to come true. I am her biggest fan.
To empower femininity, you have to empower a woman’s dreams.
You don’t need to be married to her to listen carefully enough to find out her passion is working with youth, foreign missions and cultures, or teaching children. Those are my wife’s three deepest passions, but a church leader who’s listening could hear them just as I have. And when you hear, ask questions. Get at the heart of it. And work like heck to empower her in making them come true.
A great church leader or husband will do this, and you will find your church or family comes alive alongside her heart.
My wife has other dreams that I won’t share here, but I and our family are planning for them and working now long in advance. As I make her dreams my own.
3. Notice the Things She Cares About and Give Them to Her
This is a recent lesson. The women in my life care about things that really aren’t on my radar. But because they matter to them, they now matter to me. This is a secret to empowering femininity: make her desires and preferences things you care about. I’m not talking about ice cream or frozen yogurt fruit push-ups. I mean whether our bathroom gets painted. How clean the house is. I could exist in a hole in the ground; I really wouldn’t notice the difference between a blank wall and one with shelves, sconces, and pictures. But these and many other things stem from her heart in a way I can’t understand, and I’ve chosen to prioritize them anyway.
I know her nature is revealed in certain ways through these differences, and I’m going to value her desires even though they are different from my own.
4. Understand a Woman’s Feelings, Joys, and Pains are Different From Yours and Validate Their Worth
Closely related is understanding the way a woman thinks, feels, and processes her life, and I’m going to accept that. I’m not going to force her to respond or think like a man. I’m going to take Elisabeth Elliot’s advice and “let her be a woman.”
Along the way, I’m going to try to figure out who she is. And every time it gets through my thick skull, I’m going to validate her worth. In a church, family, or marriage, this is worth investing substantial time in. In fact, I’d offer that a man needs to spend extra time on this, whether husband or church leader, because it doesn’t come naturally to him to understand and relate to the needs of the women around him. They aren’t wrong. They are unique.
5. Invite Her into a Journey in Which She is Wanted, Needed, Loved
You will see a woman come alive in a way that is natural and inspiring when she feels wanted, needed, and loved by you. But don’t simply express that she is — invite her into your journey so feeling wanted, needed, and loved is the natural byproduct of her place in your life.
Even if you are a leader of a church, as well as a leader of a family, consider how you can invite the women of your church into a place where they are an essential part of the church journey. How have you invited them to live their hearts there? This is true if you are a husband who wants to be a godly leader of his family or a church leader who wants the women to be part of the church vision. You shouldn’t upheave God’s order of church leadership to do this, but if you haven’t invited the women in your church or family into a place of being wanted, needed, and loved as an essential part of the journey you’ve missed who they are.
Perhaps that’s a conversation for the next staff meeting or guys’ night.
We live in a world fascinated by feminism, the idea that we should advance “women’s rights and interests,” even in some cases — as my wife says — beyond the rights of men, but in a world that has very little interest in what that nature is.
And that’s what I love.
I love women. I want to learn about and empower who they are, with the nature God gave them as feminine reflections of Him. Then we will hear the undistorted, pure beauty of their hearts.
I mean this in a way, I have to admit, that I feel differently about men. And I’m okay with that.