“On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.” Acts 16:13 (NIV)
For as long as I can remember I’ve been all about the “sisters.” Women encouraging women. Women helping women. Women meeting the needs of other sisters in Christ. I assumed (always risky) that even the brightest and kindest man couldn’t truly understand a woman’s deepest spiritual needs.
Then I met Ken.
He was seated in the far corner of a hotel meeting room, where I was about to present a workshop at a conference. My track was billed as Women’s Ministry, so I expected the usual all-girls turnout.
Ken — a kind-looking man in his 30s, busy with his pen and tablet — didn’t seem to notice the dozens of women streaming into the room, giving him a wide berth. Poor guy. Did he really want to learn more about the women of the Bible, or had he stumbled into the wrong workshop by mistake?
Just outside the room I discovered several other men standing around, staring at the posted topic. I made the first move: “You’re welcome to join us.”
“Uh … okay.” They didn’t budge.
I tried a different approach: “I’ll be talking about some men of the Bible as well. You know … Adam? Samson? Ahab?”
“That’s good.” Still they hesitated.
I pointed to our mystery man in the corner. “There’s another guy already here.”
“Right.” They trooped in, single file, and filled the last row.
One by one, more men wandered through the door, spotted their fellow interlopers, and took a seat. By the time we were ready to begin, I had a regular male choir gathered in the corner — tenors to baritones to basses.
Now my curiosity was piqued. What brought the first guy through the door? With only minutes to spare, I made a beeline in his direction. After checking his name tag, I said, “Ken, just for the record, you were the brave man who came in first.”
“Yup.” He grinned, holding up a yellow legal pad with three numbered items. “In case you asked me why I’m here, I wanted to be ready with some answers.”
Ken’s list was so good I had to share it with the audience:
1. I’m a spy for the other team.
Gotta love that. The roomful of women sure did.
2. I’m really secure in my masculinity.
That got an even bigger laugh.
3. I’m a pastor and want to learn how to communicate better with two-thirds of my congregation.
This one earned Ken a spontaneous round of applause for his honesty, his courage and his resolve to go the extra mile. For the other team. For us.
Then I remembered the apostle Paul, traveling to Philippi with his companions. Acts 16:13 describes the scene, “On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.” It seems Paul was willing, even eager, to speak to these sisters who’d met that morning to pray.
Women mattered to Paul. Clearly, women mattered to Ken and the other good guys in our workshop who came to learn more about ministering to them.
That day God began working on my heart, undoing my prejudices and biases and misconceptions about men — especially those in ministry — and their ability to understand our spiritual needs. What if we made them more welcome? Propped a door open? Invited their input?
As Ken and company showed us, the other team really is on our side.
Heavenly Father, I’m grateful You allowed me to see the bigger picture. To capture a clearer vision of brothers and sisters in Christ working together for Your kingdom. Even as women minister to one another, remind us to value the men who are also helping us grow into the image of Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 13:11, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (NIV)
The queen of Sheba sought the wisdom of King Solomon and discovered the Source of all wisdom. Learn more from Liz Curtis Higgs’ captivating Bible study, It’s Good to Be Queen.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
It’s only natural — and truly biblical — for women to encourage women. We also need to find ways to encourage our brothers in Christ and gladly receive their encouragement as well. How has a godly man impacted your spiritual growth?
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