Spiritual Abuse Part 17: Empowering Women in Leadership (….Continued)

Only weeks prior to the conference, while attending the John Maxwell Speaker, Coach, Trainer Certification Conference weekend, in West Palm Beach, Florida , I met a gentleman from Toronto Ontario. About two minutes into our exchange, he paused. “Would it be ok if I pray with you?”

I’m a bit sensitive about letting strangers pray intimately with me, and instinctively checked in with God, to get a sense of what He was saying. Peace. Total peace.

“Yes,” I said.

“May I hold your hands to pray?”

I am especially sensitive about any form of ‘laying on hands’ because of the caution in the Bible about that connection. Again I checked with God and felt peace, that it was okay, so I gave permission.

He began praying and immediately the Spirit of God began to move powerfully, as he spoke the very things God has already spoken; Things that I had written out and shared with some friends, mentors and leaders.

Suddenly, he took a step backward and gently, yet boldly, began declaring things, and the power and presence of God overtook both of us.

“You are born for such a time as this, as Queen Esther was….  You are called to be a trailblazer…, You will go where none have gone before…. You will lead men…. And they will begin to lead in those areas….”

I cannot recall everything he said, nor does it matter. What I know is that I was not comfortable with that calling, and yet, as uncomfortable as it was, it resonated deep in my spirit, as truth.  I was already in ministry, but I had never considered myself to be a trailblazer, or as leading men. When pastors began affirming that call, a few months later, it all made sense. But that didn’t make it more comfortable.

One of my biggest fears, or at least something way out of my comfort zone, is writing to men, speaking to men, or leading men in any way. Yes, God has placed in me an interesting blend of Jael, who drove a spike through the enemy, Esther, who said ‘if I perish, I perish’, and Deborah, who was prophetess, a judge and a military leader all in one. Even though I am a strong ‘spiritual warrior’ type, I have never wanted to lead men, and still, quite frankly, cringe at such a thought.

Over the past few weeks, as I wrote about Spiritual Abuse, an interesting phenomenon took place. The number of readers visiting my blog jumped dramatically, starting on the first day I tackled the topic and levelled out at 1200% growth. What was even more interesting was the number of men who followed, commented and promoted the blog. (Thank you!) But, what most intrigued me was the amount of gentlemen who messaged me directly.

I am accustomed to hearing from women. I get inbox messages from strangers frequently, but rarely from gentlemen, so that was new, and fascinating.  There were a variety of religious backgrounds, and wrote thanking me and encouraging me to continue writing. While that doesn’t make me comfortable in it, it does encourage me to continue sharing my heart.

God has called us all to lead, and to share the gifts and talents He has placed in our hearts. And we are most definitely all called to present Jesus and truth. But don’t take it from me, take it from God.

Joel 2:28
“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.

Acts 2:17
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

As believers we need to release the notion that only men are called to lead or speak. If ‘women be silent’ were intended as an all encompassing, stand alone command, then the above verses would be contradictory. A prophetess is not known for silence.

To Tim, and the pastors in my life who continually partner with me and empower me, ‘Thank you’. It is in living in submission to the leaders in my life, that I am empowered to lead others. And it is in embracing the call that God has placed on me that gender boundaries in my readers become irrelevant.

To all who have sent messages encouraging me and challenging me, ‘Thank you’. I don’t write for the thanks, however, to know that readers are encouraged makes the investment of time and energy easier, especially with a heavy topic like Spiritual Abuse.

As the body of Christ, let’s encourage each other to be God’s voice in the earth.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse Part 15: Men of God, Rise Up! You Are Created For Relationship

When the man in my story longed for companionship, he had legitimate relational needs that were unfulfilled. And those needs went beyond a sex drive. His wife, having divorced him, was married to another man, leaving him to live a lonely life for many years in the Mennonite culture, with no one to understand or support him.

Going to church leadership and vulnerably sharing with them, only to be told that he should ‘become a eunuch’ so that he wouldn’t have to deal with ‘that’ aspect of loss, was a slap in the face of his manhood. It was particularly offensive, from an inconsistency perspective, because the bishop had carefully covered his son’s tracks, when his son was caught sexually violating other children and youth in the church, myself included. And I’m not talking ‘petty abuse’—if there is such a thing—like being a kid and grabbing a girl. It was rape and extreme violations in at least one case, to which there was a child witness, making it two victims in one offence. The bishop, knowing what his son had done, didn’t advise him to have surgery and become a eunuch.  He hid the abuse, while exploiting others and giving this messed up advice to sincere seekers.

After creating Adam, God said that man was ‘very good’, that meant everything about him was good, even his sex drive. Everything except the ‘alone’ part. That, God said, is not good. Adam was in perfect relationship with his Creator, living in ideal circumstances, and still God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper who is compatible with him.” (Genesis 2:18)

After Adam named the animals, received instructions on tending the garden, and God had called him into spiritual battle, then, and only then, God set out to correct what was not good. He put Adam down for a nap, excised a rib, and created Eve.

In relationships a man’s natural instinct is to protect and provide physically. Back in the day, men would tenaciously protect their lovers, their children and their belongings. If anyone trespassed on their turf, threatened a man’s wife or daughter, the guns, swords or fists came out. (We even see this in Peter, with Jesus, when Peter cuts the ear off of Malchus, the High Priest’s slave.)

Am I saying it should still be this way? No. Not mostly. But I am saying we have all but taken the man out of men and then asked them to do relationships well, without doing the part they were originally designed to do.

It is not possible for a man to be oppressed, and completely controlled by a religious system (or other system—ie; the government) and expect him to do well in relationships.

To reclaim what was lost, we must first understand what was lost, and then return to God’s original intent.

When the fall took place, and sin entered the world, Satan set out to destroy all that was good. God placed in Adam a warrior heart, to protect from evil. Satan took that and made him a murderer (Cain, for example), teaching man to protect himself, his material things, and his agenda, rather than fighting for his wife and children, spiritually, and protecting them from evil in every way. Satan lied to man, misguiding him and stealing his original authority.

God commanded Adam to tend the Garden and gave him dominion over the earth—in essence God  said, ‘Your needs are met, you are rich, let the earth serve you’. But Satan deceived man into believing that if he serves the earth, he will have his needs met, and he will become wealthy.  Satan lied to man, causing him to look to himself for provision, rather than to God, leaving no time for relationship.

And then, when Eve came along, the most beautiful creature Adam had ever seen, there was perfect relationship. Adam made Eve personal, naming her, and calling out of her true greatness. ‘This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I will call her ‘woman’, because she was taken out of man.’ Adam embraced Eve at a heart level. “She is part of me, we are equal, we are one,” is what he really said when he named her.

There in the Garden the man and his wife were in a state of complete undress, and not ashamed. Unbroken trust. Unconditional acceptance. A love that knew not competition, no threat of abandonment, no fear of loss or rejection.

But Satan could not leave it at that. By shifting man’s focus from being a spiritual protector, provider and the one who ‘calls forth greatness’ in his world, and causing him to focus on survival, the enemy made man a slave in every area of life. He stripped man of his God-given identity, replacing it with a substitute that would only serve to distract him and make him feel inadequate.

It is not possible to be stripped of identity and walk in confident relationship. When a man discovers who he is in God’s eyes, his identity as a leader and a warrior is restored. He walks in authority, leading others into truth and revealing the heart of God, rather than retreating in apathy, or demanding control.  He begins to see the gifts and talents God has given his wife, and he encourages her in her dreams, viewing her as a helper and a partner in a bigger vision. He no longer uses her for his own gratification, whether in bed, at the table or to keep his house and laundry in order, while neglecting her heart. He values her for who she is, rather than taking her for granted for what she does.

Jesus came to earth—God in human form, the Spirit of God dwelling in a body of flesh—to be the perfect example of what manhood is. It is rowing against the tide, swimming upstream, being a revolutionary, a rebel by religion’s standards. Because that’s who Jesus was. He refused to bow to a this-world system. He was a man among men. The kind we, as women, still long to be led by. If you are not already that man, you have the potential to become that man.

Men, God invites you to return to your original calling, as protector, provider, the one who affirms and empowers those he leads; Calling out wholeness where there is shame, calling out confidence where there is fear, and taking authority over the evil that threatens your wife and family. They feel abandoned when you retreat. They feel insecure when you see only their failures. They feel lost when you are not there to lead by example, with love and prayer. They feel unprotected when they are spiritually abused by the church and you don’t stand up to fight for them, for their hearts and souls.  God is calling you….

Will you rise up and allow your manhood to be redefined and restored by God, and embrace relationships once again?

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/

Spiritual Abuse Part 14: Men of God, Rise Up! Empower Those You Lead!

When God commanded Adam to tend the Garden, creating in him a passion for the great outdoors, and instructed him to keep evil out, making Adam a warrior at heart, He also gave him one other interesting command.

“Name the animals, Adam, ” God said. And then He brought the animals to Adam, to see what he would name them.

Think about that for a minute. Is it as simple as it sounds? And, if so, why didn’t God simply speak their names into existence and place them permanently in Adam’s memory?

Why would God tell Adam to choose what to call the animals? What was the purpose? And what would that look like?

“Hmmm…. Let me see… You look like an elephant…. and you look more like a hedge hog… yeah, ‘hedgehog’, I like that.”

I didn’t get what ‘naming the animals’ meant until my friend Bob Hamp, a pastor at Gateway Church Texas, known as ‘the freedom-guy’, visited our church. Bob explained that to ‘name’ someone or something back in the Bible times was to ‘call out the characteristics of’, not simply ‘give a name to’ someone or something.

For example, Adam’s name, given to him  by God, calls out the characteristics of his identity. “Adam” (Hebrew אָדָם comes from the trilateral root אָדַם ( ‘ADM ), means “red”, “fair”, “handsome”. In the Book of Genesis, Adam occurs as a proper name in chapters 2-5. As a masculine noun, ‘adam’ means “man”, “mankind” usually in a collective context as in humankind, and may also refer to the individual human. The noun ‘adam’ is also the masculine form of the word adamah which means “ground” or “earth”. It is related to the words: adom (red), admon  (ruddy), and dam (blood).

If we apply this to Adam naming the animals, we see that he was given authority to call out the characteristics of the animals, to ‘name’ their identity, so to speak. The lion is ‘the king of the jungle’ because Adam called out that strength, and so on.

And this is the next level of authority God gave to Adam, and to men in general, along with the authority to fight spiritually for your families; to ‘call out’ of those under your leadership, the qualities and characteristics that are desirable and honouring to God. This is why the words a father speaks are so important. Call your son a lazy fool, and you are actually ‘calling into existence’ these things. Proverbs 18:21 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. This is why. Words impact identity and core beliefs.

It is a known fact that when a father affirms his sons and daughters, and speaks life and truth over their identity, that they are more likely to do well, to succeed in every area of life, than those who lack this affirmation. A mother can affirm and speak positively, and give her sons and daughters much to empower them but, ultimately, it is the male affirmation that empowers more than any other. If Daddy is proud of his little princess, nothing else matters. If Dad thinks his teen daughter is beautiful, she is less likely to run to the wrong guys. If Dad is proud of his son, the son is less likely to look to the wrong source for identity. Yes, some still choose the dark path, but statistics indicate the odds decrease.

Women who are affirmed by their husbands, whose husbands ‘call out’ of them characteristics of beauty, grace, value and love, by word and deed, are going to have more fulfilling marriage relationships.

As I sit across the table from women today, their one constant cry is to be acknowledged, affirmed, noticed, loved and valued. There is a vacancy in the hearts of many women because their husbands have chosen apathy or abusive behaviours, and sometimes both. Apathy towards their wives. Apathy towards their children, towards life, and abusive behaviour toward anyone who refuses to surrender quickly.

Men, God is calling you, again, to pick  up your spiritual swords and take a stand against sin and evil. To reclaim the authority He offers you, and say, ‘regardless what the rest of you choose, whether you are content to follow in the footsteps of past generations, or the footsteps your nation has chosen, I am taking leadership personally and, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!’

This requires ownership, sacrifice and commitment. It means that the church is done babysitting your family. The bishops, and preachers, and ministers are not the ones you run to, to bring your wife and children in line. Nor do you take the authoritarian approach. Rather, you call out of your sons and daughters the characteristics of godly young men and godly young women.

It means that you will love your wives with sacrificial love, the kind of love Jesus offered through His death and sacrifice. It requires developing relationship, investing your heart and connecting at a soul level. It means you get to know those God has placed in your care and reveal His heart to them.

As you take this role seriously, and repent of apathy and control, God will bless you. You will find that the trips to ‘higher uppers’ in the church will become less and less necessary, because your wife, your sons and your daughters will have the attention and affirmation they are looking for, and you will be respected. Because respect is earned.

Men of God, will you let God name you, calling out your true identity, and, in turn, call out greatness in your wives and children?

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/