How many roles do you occupy in life? How many different “hats” do you wear? Pastor? Mother? Grandmother? Aunt? Friend? Spouse? Teacher? I could name a million more. If I sense one common thread from my female friends and colleagues of all ages, it is that we feel so pulled in many different directions. We may even think that this is a good thing – something we are called to live with. After all, read what Paul writes in Corinthians:
Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Reflect: How do you read this passage, as a woman, working in many roles? At first glance, it could be used to affirm our busyness and frantic pace – we think we have to be whatever others expect us to be. The truth, however, is that Paul is really talking about the ways he communicated the one, main message. In other words, he was always himself, just communicating in the way that was right for each situation. The call for us, here, is to be ourselves, and not to give in to the many directions other people would pull us, but to know what God is calling us to do.
For me, for example, I find that the times I feel like “superwoman” and feel the need to accomplish everything at a crazy pace – those are the times I actually need to slow down. For me, that is the first stage of burn-out, when I try to work even harder to combat my fatigue. The only thing that really works is to slow down, rest, and spend time with God and the people I love. As myself.
Take Action: I invite you, since it is a new year, to write down each of your roles on a small index card or slip of paper. Write as many as you can. Then in a time of prayer, look slowly at each one. Sense how it makes you feel in your body, and how the Holy Spirit is calling you. Some roles you may want to do more of, while others you may feel called to put aside. I pray that God will lead you to be YOURSELF for all people, for the sake of the good news of Jesus.
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
We are grateful to the Rev. Monica Beacham, pastor of Cedar Grove UMC, for writing this month’s issue of Encouragements.
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