Today's guest post is from a great friend of ZOE...Elyse Brouwer. (You may recognize her from the ZOE video!) Elyse lives in Surrey, BC with her husband Christian. She is a young leader with amazing gifts that she uses in her pastoral role at Westwinds Church. She is a bit of a "leadership nerd" and loves to chat about how best we can empower women in Canada and abroad. (This is always done over copious amounts of coffee!) I think we will see/hear more from Elyse in the years to come...
by Elyse Brouwer
What does it mean to empower someone?
As a young woman in ministry in Canada, I find myself thinking about this a lot. I often wonder whether I am doing enough to enable those that I minister to to succeed, and I constantly evaluate my own life, and whether or not I feel empowered to do what I feel God has called me to. I can pinpoint moments in which I’ve definitely felt empowered and confident; I can also pinpoint others in which I’ve felt alone, inadequate, and out of my depth.
I believe that there are some incredibly simple and basic keys to empower women to live full lives in Christ and to do what God is calling them to. They may look different in practice in different contexts, but I would challenge you (and myself) to consider how these 3 keys could play out in your context:
Open Up Opportunities
When I was 16, the Christian outreach at my school needed a student to take leadership of the group in order to continue. I hesitated, but my friend and I decided to give it a shot.
Through this opportunity to lead, I discovered my passion for ministry. I learned a lot about myself, about the Bible and about leadership. Not every week was a success, but it was a great opportunity to try, grow and make mistakes in a a safe place.
One of the biggest keys to empowering women is to open up opportunities for them to use their gifts. This is essential; women need to be provided with opportunities in which it is safe to try, make mistakes, learn, and try again. The best way to learn is to do! What opportunities can you open up to women around you?
Near the end of the book of John, when the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and tellsthem “…as the Father sent me, even so I am sending you…Receive the Holy Spirit.”
In these few words, he sends them out on a challenging and daunting task, but he does not leave them unprepared; He equips them with what (rather, Who) they need - the Holy Spirit.
Empowering women entails more than providing opportunities to them; it includes equipping them with what they need to tackle what’s in front of them. Whether this be through education, financial support, or even something as simple as providing menstrual pads so that a young woman can keep going to school, empowerment goes beyond simply providing opportunities and extends to providing women with what they need to succeed. What tools can you provide to the women around you?
Be in Community
I love a good staff meeting. Call me a nerd, but I just love giving and receiving feedback, reflecting on how we felt as we tried something new, dreaming about what we can do in the future, and praying together.
I believe that there’s something empowering about having a community around us. That community can look as different as the people in them - it be a trusted peer, a mentor, or a small group. The impact of having the support of women (and men) that dream with you, challenge you, give you insightful feedback, encourage you, and pray with you, is huge. When we give women opportunities and provide them with the tools they need, we also need to provide them with a safe and supportive community. Whether we’re in Canada, Malawi, Thailand, etc., we will always be “better together”. Are you part of a community that lovingly challenges, encourages, and prays for its members?
I hope that these keys help you as you empower the women around you!