Why Margaret Feinberg Bypasses the 'Gender Wars'
Ask Margaret Feinberg what she thinks of being one of the leading evangelical female voices in a mostly male arena, and she bypasses the issue of gender. "I don't really think about it. I walk into a room and see amazing leaders, thoughtful presenters, and compelling communicators regardless of gender." Feinberg is the author most recently of Hungry for God, which reflects on ways to recognize and satisfy our longings for holy relationship in the midst of our daily lives. Having penned more than two dozen books and Bible studies, including The Organic God (Zondervan), The Sacred Echo (Zondervan), and Scouting the Divine (Zondervan), Feinberg recently released the six-week John and Genesis Bible studies series (September 2011), and is considering developing another study on the Gospel of Luke.
Born in Melbourne, Florida, where her parents were in the surfing industry, Feinberg spent a brief elementary school stint in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, before her family moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She and her husband, Leif, now live in Morrison, Colorado, and she spends a good amount of time speaking at churches and conferences nationally.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Feinberg about her own experiences of nurturing her relationship with God. She shared thoughts on certain faith practices and how women of Scripture and those with whom she's had intimate relationships have challenged her growth towards God. She has learned lessons she tries to share with her readers, and it seems to be working. During our interview she shared an encouraging note that came from an elderly woman using Feinberg's Bible studies: "I've been studying the Bible for more than 60 years and in the first lesson and week of homework I discovered things about Genesis no one had ever told me before." Feinberg purposely lays out her Bible studies so that new Christians, curious seekers, and veteran believers alike find ample opportunities to grow together in faith and knowledge of Scripture and God.
In Hungry for God, Feinberg writes of how the Exodus story of Puah and Shiphrah, the midwives of Exodus who helped saved the Hebrew children, had a powerful impact on her imagination of how God uses women: "… with the midwives strength and courage …. These two women were quiet but effective advocates of the greatest social justice issue of their time" (Feinberg, 2011, p.56.). I asked her about some women in her own life whom she's recognized as conduits of God. Her response drew to mind the quiet yet significant role Christian women often play in the spiritual formation of others simply by living faithfully into their own unique identities. "Sheila Frost was a former neighbor who opened her house to myself and dozens of other young adults in the community. She listened to us, loved us, and prayed for us. The ironic part was she often said, 'God doesn't really use me—I barely leave the house.' That's because we all came to her door. She had no idea the tremendous impact she was having on so many lives."
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