How to empower women in the church!

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Recently I have read about a phenomenon called stereotype threat. This term refers to the pressure individuals feel in the classroom or workplace due to perceived stereotypes about themselves. For instance, women are sometimes stereotyped as being less capable at math, which can influence the way young girls perform in their math classes. If they believe they are worse at math, they are likely to perform worse regardless of natural ability.

Numerous studies have shown that the simple presence of a stereotype can inhibit academic performance, but it creates an additional obstacle. If a student or employee anticipates being stereotyped, some will actively try to undermine the stereotype. For example, a businesswoman may fear being perceived as overly emotional by her male colleagues, so she intentionally minimizes her emotions and conducts herself stoically. Unfortunately, the cognitive energy she puts into combating the stereotype also inhibits her performance. Likewise, students who find themselves resisting a stereotype in a classroom setting are less able to learn and engage the subject matter.

It is remarkable and troubling that a stereotype can be so powerful. Fortunately, researchers have also looked into the best methods for breaking the power of stereotype threat, and they have discovered two primary options:

1. An authority figure publicly debunks the stereotype. In a study at Stanford University, a group of men and women were administered a math test and their performances were recorded (Spencer and Steele, 1999). Then, the same math test was administered to a different group of men and women, but with one small change. This time, before the students began, the test administrator told the group that there was no previous gender discrepancy in performance on this test.  This simple statement debunking the stereotype about women and math made all the difference. The women in the second group tested better.

2. In-group role models. It is also helpful for victims of stereotype threat to see individuals from their own group (ie. women or minorities) functioning competently outside the stereotype (McIntyre, Paulson, Taylor, Morin and Lord, 2011). Having a talented female math teacher, for instance, can help dispel the myth that women are not good at math.

This research is fascinating, and it has led me to wonder about its application to women in the church. There are many stereotypes out there about women that are both sociological and psychological, so the cycle can be tough to break. If women believe they are not capable of thinking theologically, or leading and teaching in the church effectively, then that stereotype perpetuates an unfortunate cycle in which women are hesitant to even try.

That said, there are two applications that evangelicals can take from the above research. The first applies to men. In the same way that authority figures have the power to break stereotypes with a simple word, men in the evangelical church have that power as well. That is not to say that women should not also speak out against unbiblical stereotypes, but research seems to indicate that the power group–the group that is stereotyped as being naturally gifted or authoritative in a certain area–has particular influence in this regard. If men were to tell their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters that women can think theologically, that women should be important voices in the church, and that the church needs the contributions of these women, that message would have a tremendous, positive impact.

In short, men, we need you! Challenge your wives and raise strong daughters!

The second application from the above research concerns us ladies. If we want to see younger generations of women pushing themselves and using their gifts for the Kingdom of God, then we need to be doing that ourselves. Change can be slow and discouraging at times, but the more women who are out there studying, growing and leading, the more we can expect younger women to follow our example. Change begins with us.

5 Ways to Increase Your Productivity

Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity
From HRM Today

You just have too much on you plate. Chances are, your employees do as well. You suspect that you could all be making better use of your time, completing more projects and achieving more goals. You want to be more productive, and to help your team be more productive, but you aren’t sure where to start.

You are far from alone in your confusion. Even the most successful, highly accomplished people have difficulty pinpointing why they are so productive. The intuitive answer – that you are born predisposed to having the intelligence, creativity, and willpower to get the job done – is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach more of their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do. Here are five scientifically-tested strategies that successful people use, proven to help you reach your goals and make the most of your time.

#1 Get Specific. When setting a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Meet with every member of my team once a week” is a better goal than “meet more often with my team,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “communicate more” is too vague – be clear and precise. “At our meeting, I’ll ask about each project they are currently working on” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

#2 Seize the Moment to Act on Your Goals. Given how busy most of us are, it’s not surprising that we often miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice those opportunities. Did you really have no time to work on that assignment today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take,in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “When it’s 3pm today, I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and work on that report.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your productivity by roughly 300%.

#3 Know Exactly How Far You Have Left To Go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress – if no one else is looking over your shoulder, then you’ll need to monitor yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently – weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

#4 Be a Realistic Optimist. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal or complete your project. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you unprepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure. Express confidence in your employees, while always being honest with them about the challenges they’ll face.

#5 Focus on Getting Better, Rather than Being Good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed – that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong – abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you canchange will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination. And telling your employees that you expect them to make a few mistakes as they learn is, ironically, the surest way to elicit their very best performance.

Submission – A spiritual Discipline?

Wives and Husbands
1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you [1] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

1. Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says. You can see that in verse one: she is a Christian and he is not. He has one set of ideas about ultimate reality. She has another. Peter calls her to be submissive while assuming she will not submit to his view of the most important thing in the world—God. So submission can’t mean submitting to agree with all her husband thinks.

2. Submission does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar. It is not the inability or the unwillingness to think for yourself. Here is a woman who heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. She thought about it. She assessed the truth claims of Jesus. She apprehended in her heart the beauty and worth Christ and his work, and she chose him. Her husband heard it also. Other wise Peter probably wouldn’t say he “disobeyed the word.” He has heard the word and he has thought about it. And he has not chosen Christ. She thought for herself and she acted. And Peter does not tell her to retreat from that commitment.

3. Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband. The whole point of this text is to tell a wife how to “win” her husband. Verse one says, “Be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won.” If you didn’t care about the Biblical context you might say, “Submission has to mean, taking a husband the way he is and not trying to change him.” But if you care about the context, you conclude that submission, paradoxically, is a strategy for changing him.

The goal of this text is to help wives bring about the most profound change in their husbands that can be imagined—the transformation from being a spiritually dead unbeliever to a spiritually alive believer. Submission does not say, “I renounce all efforts to change my husband.” What it does say we’ll see in a moment.

4. Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. The text clearly teaches that the wife is a follower of Jesus before and above being a follower of her husband. He is going on the path of unbelief. She does not follow him in that, because she has been called to be a disciple of Jesus. Submission to Jesus relativizes submission to husbands—and governments and employers and parents. When Sara calls Abraham “lord” in verse 6, it is lord with a little “l”. It’s like “sir.” And the obedience she renders is secondary obedience, under, and because of, and filtered through obedience to the LORD with a capital “L”.

5. Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength from her husband. A good husband should indeed strengthen and build up and sustain his wife. He should be a source of strength. There are ways in which a wife is the “weaker vessel” as verse 7 says. But what this text shows is that when a husbands spiritual nurturing and leadership is lacking, a Christian wife is not bereft of strength. Submission does not mean she is dependent on him to supply her strength of faith and virtue and character. The text assumes just the opposite. She is summoned to develop depth and strength and character not from her husband but for her husband. Verse five says that her hope is in God, not the husband.

6. Finally submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear. Verse 6b says, “You have become [Sarah’s] children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” In other words submission is free, not coerced by fear. The Christian woman is a free woman. When she submits to her husband—whether he is a believer or unbeliever—she does it in freedom, not out of fear.

What then is submission?

It is the disposition to follow a husband’s authority and an inclination to yield to his leadership. It is an attitude that says, “I delight for you to take the initiative in our family. I am glad when you take responsibility for things and lead with love. I don’t flourish when you are passive and I have to make sure the family works.” But the attitude of Christian submission also says, “It grieves me when you venture into sinful acts and want to take me with you. You know I can’t do that. I have no desire to resist you. On the contrary, I flourish most when I can respond creatively and joyfully to your lead; but I can’t follow you into sin, as much as I love to honor your leadership in our marriage. Christ is my King.”

Judgementalism in the church

Judgmentalism in the church by David Loveless

Discussion or journaling questions:

1. Who are the groups or types of people I am most prone to judge?
2. Who have I offended Lord, with my judging? What would You have me do to make this right with them?
3. Lord, help me understand: what is the real need inside me that makes me want to appear better, smarter, more godly than someone else?
4. What can I do to cleanse this wound that drives me to think and behave like this?
5. Lord, I have sensed the judging eyes and tongues of these people on me…. ( List them here) They have hurt me Father, please heal my pain and give me Your power to forgive them for the wounds they have caused in me.
6. Bless each person- one by one -and see yourself release each of them to God to deal with when and how He determines.
7. Now spend the last few minutes thanking the Lord for the incredible worth and value He placed on you with His fathomless love.

Manage your energy and not your time!

As the demands of the workplace keep rising, many people respond by putting in ever longer hours, which inevitably leads to burnout that costs both the organization and the employee.
Meanwhile, people take for granted what fuels their capacity to work–their energy.
Increasing that capacity is the best way to get more done faster and better. Time is a finite resource, but energy is different.
It has four wellsprings–the body, emotions, mind, and spirit–and in each, it can be systematically expanded and renewed.
For instance, harnessing the body’s ultradian rhythms by taking intermittent breaks restores physical energy.
Rejecting the role of a victim and instead viewing events through three hopeful lenses defuses energy-draining negative emotions.
Avoiding the constant distractions that technology has introduced increases mental energy.
And participating in activities that give you a sense of meaning and purpose boosts the energy of the spirit.
The new workday rituals succeed only if leaders support their adoption, but when that happens, the results can be powerful.
When organizations invest in all dimensions of their employees’ lives, individuals respond by bringing all their energy wholeheartedly to work–and both companies and their people grow in value.