I’m a straight, white, Christian male. I’m an accidental advocate for women’s leadership. And in light of all the indignities of 2018, I wanted to share some thoughts.
The game of realised potential
Our purpose in life is this: to realise our God-given destiny, written before creation. Men and women with one call, one God, one Church, and untold potential.
So, I find it inexcusable that half the world – our women – are disadvantaged as they seek to progress toward that goal.
That process of advance – of realising that potential – is what we call competition.
It’s a pipeline of refinement and sharpening, in preparation for influence, authority, and Kingdom accession (Luke chapter 12, verse 32). It’s not about capitalism or communism; it’s about a humanity made equal, thrust into an unfair world.
And the reality I’ve grappled with in my women’s empowerment work, is that while the goal was written by God (Acts chapter 1, verse 8), the game was written by men – its rules, its format, and its scarcity (von Neumann, 1928).
It means that some women are bypassed – not maliciously – but through centuries of inadequate responses. And the entire world misses out!
As a Women in STEM Ambassador, I’ve held to the fact that women discovered radiation, DNA, and synthetic radiochemistry. And had they, like men, the boundless opportunity to investigate, collaborate, and communicate… perhaps we’d have cured some of those diseases which plague us today.
The problem with modern feminism
You can tell I’m a zealot on this issue. Yet I’ll never identify with modern feminism.
Why? Because it precludes me from engaging in meaningful empowerment. Because it’s a buzzword and a box. And statistically speaking, it’s a dying movement.
It attests that the issue is the goal: that “influence” and “authority” as constructs are wrong. That “individual responsibility” and “equal reward for equal effort” – without regulation – are neo-liberal propaganda, in-congruent with women’s rights.
In so doing, modern feminism ignores reality. It rejects the game (the process of realising potential) and attempts to superimpose a new one. The issue? This precludes women from advancing in the real world, and sticks them in homogeneous echo chambers, awaiting a “quota” they didn’t need.
It’s an attempt to circumvent the leadership pipeline instead of engaging, innovating, persevering, and improving.
As a young global trailblazer, Tamara Richardson, once said, “There are too many activists, and not enough strategists,” meaning louder voices, more words, but no results.
Modern feminism doesn’t provoke change; it deafens and desensitises.
The reality of modern women
American torchbearer Nikki Haley said, “Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”
Jesus’ brother puts it another way:
“Be swift to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
(James chapter 1, verse 19)
This is how men – and women – realise their potential.
It’s these women who emulate Lady Wisdom in Proverbs chapter 2. They labour diligently, example empathy, speak loving truth with power, and honour one another. They are the World Changers we memorialise on Earth, and the unknown women whose treasure is in Heaven. And God makes a habit of immortalising them in the pages of history.
I think of China’s “Bible women”, who dominate underground urban evangelism. Of Jesus’ first evangelist: Photine (John chapter 4). Of His first apostle: Mary (Luke chapter 24, verse 10). Of His first political influencer: Joanna, the wife of King Herod’s Chief of Staff (Luke chapter 8, verses 2-3).
Oh, how I wish we’d share more about women like Jael the humble spy, Deborah the courageous judge, and Esther the saviour queen. And about the men who backed them: Mary’s husband, Joseph (Matthew chapter 1, verse 16); Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah (Luke chapter 1, verse 12); and Moses, empowering Miriam the Prophet (Exodus chapter 15, verses 20-21). What about St Teresa of Calcutta, St Mary MacKillop, and influencers like Christine Caine and Revd Canon Flora Winfield?
The reason for gender equality
These stories should reshape how we view equality. They paint a fuller picture of the Church, polity, and civil society. Of God’s heart for creation. They prove that when women share the same platforms as their brothers, light disrupts darkness with heavenly vigour.
Dear men: your sister has the same commission and the same Commissioner. So, speak up when you see her silenced. Reach out when you see her left out. And realise that though she has value to add, she’s unlikely to contribute without your invitation.
Dear women: your brother is never the enemy. The Accuser is. And he has, for too long, charged you with stereotype, compromise, fear, and doubt. The Advocate declares, “Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” (Micah chapter 6, verse 8) in His presence, plan, and power. And let the Lord fight your battles (Exodus chapter 14, verse 14).
I’m an advocate because Jesus was. Because women have been bypassed for millennia. And it’s not okay. Their gender does not preclude them; it strengthens them.
How do I know this? Because I’ve seen God’s face in theirs: in children’s ministry, international development, politics and business.
Because when we stand before Jesus, He’ll crown us with the same words,
“Well done, good and faithful servant; come to the place I have prepared for you.”
Jak Hardy is the Founder of WorldChangers Global, an innovative not-for-profit tackling development through education. A leadership, development, and policy consultant, Jak aspires to be the world’s leading voice on the health benefits of Nutella. He holds a Diploma of Ministry, has trekked through a valley, discarded degrees in law, theology and politics, and is completing postgraduate business at the University of the Sunshine Coast.