This is the sixth post in our Feminology series. If you don’t yet know what Feminology is, it would be a great idea to go back and read those previous posts when you have the time to do so! I pray that this series is a help to all of us as we consider what it means to be a woman.
What would it look like for you to use your strength to its full potential?
I recently heard an interview between two women. One was a journalist, and the other a four-star general in the U.S. Department of Defense. They were discussing some important military things, but at the end of the interview, the journalist said that she couldn’t end the conversation without speaking to the general about the fact that she is one of just two women who are four-star generals in the Department of Defense. The general went on to describe her experience of combining her passion and her talents – her strengths – in such a way that has caused her to not only love her work, but to sit in the “pinnacle of leadership.”
So what would it look like for you to use your strengths to their full potential?
How would our culture answer that question? Within the the world and within much of the church the answer to that question would involve rising up and advancing in whatever field you are in. For some women, full potential involves sitting in a pinnacle of leadership. For others, it may not be that level of leadership, but it certainly involves advancing in one’s career. In the American church, a woman using her strength to its full potential involves similar things – rising up to office of elder and perhaps even preaching. And no matter what sphere a woman is involved in, using her strength to its full potential is always using it in the same way and in the same capacity that a man would use his strength.
So what would it look like for you to use your strength to its full potential? This morning I read Philippians 2, a chapter that instructs us on how we ought to imitate Christ in our lives. As I thought about the topic of women’s strength, Philippians 2:4 stood out as clear instruction. “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
According to God, using your strength to its full potential looks like using it for other people’s interests within the roles that He has given you. The world’s definition of strength is to advance for your own sake. To reach your dreams and satisfy your own desires. To show that women are, in fact, as strong as men. But that kind of strength can rightly be compared to the strength of body builders. Have you ever seen a body builder? I actually went to a few different body building competitions while I was growing up, and I can tell you with certainty that body builders are strong, but really only for the sake of looking strong. And why do they want to look strong? So that they can win competitions. So that they can be applauded. They are strong for their own interests.
We as Christian women use our strength to its full potential when we deny our own selfish desires and and instead use our strength for the interests of others. Our strength should be spent, not shown off and not strategically used for our own good. The world might call kind of thinking belittling or demeaning towards women, but that is not God’s view. Later in Philippians 2 we are told, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
Jesus emptied Himself. He used Himself up for the sake of others. We should use our strength and imitate Him. Some will ask whether men are called to do the same thing, and of course they are! But as you may remember, we have discussed the the fact that God has given men and women various roles in previous Feminology posts. While the world says men and women are interchangeable in all spheres of life, this isn’t what the Bible teaches. God has gifted us with the roles of nurturer, helper, and with submission in marriage. Those roles take strength! And to succeed in those roles we must imitate Christ (who, by the way, wasn’t grasping for the role of God the Father). We must use our strength for the interests of others. That is what it looks like to use our strength to its full potential.