How to become women who embolden rather than undermine
Several years ago I endeavored to write a Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount for several hundred women. The Bible study was a labor of love, passion, and joy. When the books arrived for us to distribute to our three hundred or so women, it felt like Christmas morning. Almost all of the women were just as excited as I was because many were on the editing and writing journey with me. But one woman in particular thought it was deplorable that I would even consider writing a Bible study. I was dumbfounded by her anger, and yet she raked me over the coals with email after email for writing a Bible study. To her it was arrogant, and I was way too young to do such a thing. Although my predecessors were authors and had written their own Bible studies, to this woman thirty-four was way too young to pen a Bible study, and I was perceived as arrogant.
Being a woman in ministry, I would think that my biggest advocates most often would be women and my biggest naysayers most often would be men. However, this is not always the case. Nancy Beach is sadly right: “Just as adolescents can be mean girls, grown-ups can turn into mean women who subtly—or not so subtly—undermine, judge, and criticize the choices of other women they worship next to on Sunday mornings.” Jamie Ostrov, a professor, psychologist, and researcher, discovered that triangulation behavior begins as early as age three: “Aggressive behavior in girls from ages 3 to 5 tends to be more direct, but by early adolescence it starts becoming more covert,” Ostrov says. He notes that girls who are victims of this behavior are more likely to demonstrate symptoms like depression, anxiety, and academic problems.
Sadly, all too often this “mean ...
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