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|Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling||
For much of the church's history, women have been relegated to backseat roles. But in my generation, much of that has changed. And the church, as well as all of society, is better off for it.
Religion has often kept women down. Sadly, even the Christian and evangelical world can overemphasize and misuse the concept of submission as an excuse to discourage, hold back and even mistreat women. Today, this notion is being strongly refuted by the examples of great female leadership and by the change in attitude by many male leaders.
Bishop T.D. Jakes shared an interesting observation with me not too long ago. He pointed out that prior to Jesus Christ's crucifixion, women anointed his body to prepare it for burial, which preceded the glorious resurrection. He told me that he believed that God is now using women to once again anoint Christ's body, which is symbolic of the modern community of believers, to prepare for Biblical prophecy in which Christ returns for his "bride," the church. "Anointing" in the Christian church is recognized as a Divine enabling to change people's lives in a positive way. We are seeing this in the church and, I believe, it is changing people's attitudes toward women in secular roles as well.
Recently, I have spent time privately and publicly talking to many women who are having a tremendous impact on hundreds of thousands of people. Beth Moore has sold record numbers of inspirational books and Bible studies. In the August best-seller lists, four of her books still rank in the top ten in their categories, according the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Her keen insight into spiritual issues and her unique ability to inspire those who hear her speak or read one of her books has positioned her as one of the most sought-after personalities, not just amongst women or one denomination, but the entire church.
The Women of Faith conferences are filling arenas around the country (including two sold-out events at the American Airlines Center in Dallas), with their message of hope and love. In their nine years as an organization, over 2.3 million women have attended their conferences. This year, about of 350,000 will attend one of their 30 packed-out meetings around the country. As one personally who spent many years speaking in this type of arena, I can rightfully say that Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, Thelma Wells and the other dynamic ladies in this group communicate as effectively as anyone ever has -- male or female.
The sensitivity and other unique qualities that women bring into every area of life, whether it's the church, the home or the workplace, provide a needed balance to our world.
Women can be leaders. As we acknowledge their abilities and appreciate their guidance, both inside and outside the church, we are shattering the stained glass ceiling that has existed in religion for centuries and, at the same time, breaking down barriers that have carried over in the workplace, politics and all of society.