But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "Let us go up at once and occupy the land for we are well able to overcome it." Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against this people for they are stronger than we." So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, "The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. Numbers 13: 30-33,NRVS
What happens when we see ourselves as "grasshoppers?" The text suggests that as we see ourselves, so others will see us. Even if God and all of the angels in heaven tell us that we can do, that we can over take, that we can become, that we can possess... If we don't embrace, believe and pursue the promise, we will end up wandering in the wilderness and lose our opportunity to enter our promised land.
Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg tackles this issue from a secular perspective in her new book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.. Sandberg asserts that women have made little or no progress in gaining CEO level positions, although scores of women have become college educated. She asserts further that historic socialization has cultivated internal oppressive behaviors within the women themselves that serve to keep them down. In other words, women have internalized messages that keep them from striving to be all that they could be.
Statistics reveal that the more men rise to the proverbial "top," the more they are revered, respected and liked. Conversely, the more women rise or gain positions of leadership and authority, the less they are liked by both women and men. While men are described as "strong, decisive, and a visionary," women with the same skill set are often labeled, "bossy, selfish, glory seeking and a 'B'". As a result, women both in the secular and the sacred realms are less likely to "lean in." For a whole slew of reasons, women convince themselves to "make do," accept less and strive to be liked rather than to lead. For clergy women, the stained glass ceiling is no less formidable.
In Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors ( www.judsonpress.com ) the issues of "What Stands in Our Way?" Is fleshed out (see chapter 3). Low expectations, the power of perception and denial and bad theology all are factors that persist beneath the surface of our reluctance to "lean in." Are you moving as God leads or are you stuck in the wilderness, bound by the grasshopper syndrome?
May you find the courage and the strength to be all that God has ordained you to be before the foundation of the world, whether other women and men applaud your pursuits or not.
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance