Last week's post focussed on practical ways to empower women.  We continue that important theme, but this time hear from a young male leader.  James Bak is a student at Summit Pacific College, preparing for vocational ministry and he is a vocal champion of women!  

Issues surrounding women's vulnerability is not a "women's issue", rather it is a "community issue" that will be addressed by women and men together speaking to the worth and dignity of "the daughters."

With young men like James we get excited about the future! 

James Bak

by James Bak   

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of strength? Maybe it's a fighter, an athlete, a Greek demigod named Hercules, a superhero, a mighty lion, or a ______ (You fill in the blank), whatever it is I am sure that it is powerful. Merriam Webster defines strength as, "The quality or state of being physically strong," which is what most people typically associate strength with. Webster also defines strength as, "The quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way". Personally, I like the latter definition of strength, allow me to share why.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of strength is my 5'4" mother. As an impoverished single parent, she raised two incredibly challenging and rebellious children. She taught me what it meant to selflessly love others and how to see hope in every situation. I don’t know how my mother did it but she always gave us security and direction in life. When I consider the tremendous strength of my mother’s willingness to lay down her life for her children I find myself quoting NBA’s 2014 MVP Kevin Durant who said, “You’re the real MVP mom!”

However, my mom is just one example of the many women who have greatly impacted my life.  For most of my life I lived in a household where the women outnumbered the men three to one. Under these circumstances I came to incredibly value the voice of the women in this world, especially the voice of my incredibly beautiful fiancé, Jennie. Jennie is an awe inspiring woman who will stop at nothing to pursue the call that God has put on her life. The tenacity of Jennie and many other passionate women like her are why I am confident that this world NEEDS to have EMPOWERED women in leadership. As a young adults pastor I often meet incredible young women who have the capacity to change the world but are hesitant to act due to a lack of confidence in their calling. This just breaks my heart and moves me to share with you what I have found to be an effective means of empowering the women in your life.

1. PRESENCE - IM WITH YOU

In one of my favourite movies, Finding Forester, Sean Connery aka Forester tells his lovestruck young apprentice this, “The way to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.”

What I love about this is that Forester knew that many women appreciate the moments in life that remind them that others are thinking about them simply because they care. The truth is that presents are nice but the true value is the presence of the heart behind the gift. God’s gift to us was Christ whose presence absolutely turned this world upside down. Before exiting the scene, Christ also promised two presents of his presence. First, a promise that God would never leave nor forsake His people. Second, a promise of a guide and comforter that would come after His ascent and empower His people. Sounds to me like Christ was dead set on remaining present with us.

What I love about my job is that I get to follow in Christ’s footsteps and be a presence in the lives of so many amazing men and women. I don’t have much to offer in terms of material gifts but I can always offer my presence and you know what, often that’s all that they want. I can’t count the number of times that Jennie has come to me after a hard day and not wanted anything but my presence. There is so much that is said when we simply remind the women in our life that, “I’m with you!” That’s it, “I’m with you,” I am with you in the good times, the bad times, the tough times, and the great times, no matter what I am with you. This screams Christ to me, He was with us before we were even aware of ourselves and He remains with us because he was the first to say, “I’m with you!” It seems almost to easy to be true but there is something so powerful in giving presence.

2. CHAMPION THEIR POTENTIAL

Have you ever met an art consultant who packs one heck of a right hook and the medical degree to fix any injuries that her right hook may cause? I have! Her name is Laura and she is one of the most impressive women I have ever met. Laura balances three jobs while maintaining a social life and staying active. Just last year Laura told me that she had started training multiple times a week to become a boxer. To this day I have never seen a young woman so excited to get punched in the face. Still as her first fight approached, Laura’s excitement grew and so did the encouragement. Laura’s friends and I could see that she was passionate, not about violence but about her potential to be the best and it was charming. Round after round Laura returned to her corner and there she was met by her coaches and mentors who never lost sight of her potential, it was incredible. Although Laura lost her first fight everyone in her corner still saw her as a champion, including Christ.

Christ taught us valuable lessons about confrontation but he also understood that there are some things in life that we will have to fight for. Not everyone is cut out to be a boxer but every woman has dreams and passions that they may have to one day fight for. How do we empower women to “put on their gloves” and “enter the ring”? I believe it it begins with standing in their corner and championing their potential regardless of the outcome. How incredible would it be if we saw women take their “losses” in stride as their coaches and mentors remained in their corner tending to their needs and calling out their potential? Personally I think that we would see many more women return to the ring with confidence that God still had a purpose for their passions.

3. CELEBRATE THEIR VICTORIES

Jennie and I are constantly blessed by this principle. We are getting married in two months and have a daunting checklist of things to get done before the big day. Each time that we check something off the list I make it a point to celebrate the victory with her. 

It seems small, and it can be, but it is also important to our relationship. The more that I celebrate the little victories in her life the easier it is to celebrate the big victories. Maybe this is small to you but to us, two naturally driven/competitive people, it doesn’t always come easily. You see we are in the same field of study and both aspiring to do well in our calling which can put some tension between us when it comes to awards, potential opportunities, etc. However, I realize that we are on the same side, we are in each others corners, and we can be united in victory. 

Whether it’s a loved one, a friend, or a family member it’s so important that you celebrate the victories of the women in your life, big or small. Your support can remind them that you truly are with them no matter what and that you do believe in their potential. By celebrating the victories of the women in my life I’ve become more than simply their friend, I have become their fan! I think it’s about time that the women of this world pick up a few more fans, don’t you? So if you’ve read this far and you are still wondering how to empower women just remember your presence is the best present, every champion needs someone in their corner, and when things are all said and done don’t forget to celebrate their victories.

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