During an interview, writer and blogger Abby Norman and I spoke about scarcity and abundance. Both of us have a heart for the same things. Scarcity would say there’s not room for both of us to talk about the same subject. Abundance would say there’s more than enough room at the table for both of us—there’s grace enough to go around. Abby explained that if she falls into the scarcity mindset, she finds herself thinking, “I’ll stop talking, because I believe that you’ve taken what is rightfully mine.” On the other hand, if she approaches the same situation with an abundance mindset, she’ll assume there’s plenty of space for her, too.
When another woman takes the stage to preach, teach, lead, or use her gifts to influence, we ought to refrain our criticisms of her. This is neither the time nor the place to discover and point out what she’s doing wrong. It’s also not the time to make judgment calls about how you think you’d do so much better if you were in her shoes. Rather, this is the time to be her biggest fan.
What might this mean for us as leaders of the church? For starters, it means we should stop fighting. We should stop believing there’s only room for one woman on any given team. And we should stop competing against other people, especially other women. Instead, we should believe that our sisters in Christ are not our competition but our fellow contributors to the greater story. Being a woman in ministry is hard enough. There’s no need to make it harder by adopting a scarcity mindset.
Embrace the Gospel of Abundance
Norman speculates that because women have historically been given such little space in the church, it’s easy to want to fight over the scraps. We have to rewrite the narrative. First, we have to believe that we’re not being fed scraps. Second, we have to put into practice what it might look like to encourage our sisters as if our lives depended on it—because they do, I might add. We have to begin cheering each other on, believing that there’s room for every woman in the kingdom of God.
Instead of fighting, this should become what we say to one another:
Woman (as Jesus called his mother), you have been called to this very position of leadership in the church. Woman, you are right where God wants to you be—this is most evident. Woman, this (tell her what you see in her) is how I see Christ in you.
Speaking this to one another, we put Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus into practice. In this way, we embrace a gospel of abundance, filling our sentences with exclamation points like Eugene Peterson in The Message: “Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19). When we experience the breadth, test the length, plumb the depths, and rise to the heights of Christ’s love, we realize there’s an abundance of resources available to every single one of his children. We free ourselves—and each other—to live the fullest of lives, as God intended for us all along.