During an open forum session at the Synergy2009 conference, after I finished speaking on the Blessed Alliance, someone asked the question, “Can only egalitarians become a Blessed Alliance in ministry?”
Quick aside: Synergy attendees are a healthy mix of both Complementarians and Egalitarians. A lot of interesting friendships have developed. But that question took the oxygen out of the room.
So I responded to that question with another one. How many women here are involved in ministry because of a man who opened a door, mentored, and cheered you on?”
Nearly every woman in the room shot her hand up.
So when I read Marlo Thomas’ Women’s History Month tribute on Huffington Post—”Guys Who Get It: The Men of the Women’s Movement“—I thought it’s time we paid tribute to the men in our lives who get it. Men who believe in us, affirm our gifts, open doors for us, and back us all the way.
I can name several, but will start out with the man who has had the biggest influence in my life and heads my list—my scholar, country music loving, husband, Frank James.
It’s an understatement to say marriage to Frank has been quite an adventure. You’d think by now I’d be used to it, but I’m still reaching for the seat-belt. When we first married, I thought I knew how marriage was supposed to work. I had the recipe and was ready to embrace the traditional role that was mine as a wife. Was I in for a surprise!
Frank had a totally different vision of me and how we would work together.
He believed in me, took my gifts seriously, and wanted me to flourish. He never had the slightest expectation that I’d suspend them once we married. He wanted my support for God’s calling on his life, but also believed I had a calling of my own. I still find it hard to describe the impact on me or how my horizon suddenly widened when he said, “You need to find out what God wants you to do with your life, and I’m not the answer to that question.” I didn’t see that one coming.
Throughout our marriage he’s opened doors for me, challenged my self-doubt, and pushed me through the opening. On the other side of that door—whether in my unexpected detour from ministry into my own business in England as a software developer, owning my voice as an author, traveling unexpected distances, or overcoming my fear of public speaking—he has always been there for me to cheer me on and to join me in thinking through challenges, solving problems, and brainstorming ideas. As for me, I’ve enjoyed experiences—adventures and opportunities—I never could have imagined.
Who knew married life could be this fulfilling!?
On the flip side, I’ve discovered better ways to support him in his calling than I first envisioned—ways that have blended our lives together in deeper ways that I thought possible.
He often tells his students how in those first months of marriage I resisted typing his seminary papers. In my defense, I was only following what I believed was the sound premarital advice I’d received from a trusted older friend and pastor’s wife—who warned me that “of typing papers for a pastor or academic, there is no end, so don’t get started!”
If you know Frank, it won’t surprise you that he didn’t give up easily, and that was a good thing for us both. By typing his papers, I got into his head. I began to to interact with him about his work and was able to throw myself behind what God was calling him to do in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
So I pay tribute to Frank James—he gets it! Sometimes I tell him, “You’re not the man of my dreams. I couldn’t have dreamed you up!”
I expect I’ll get more responses on FaceBook (as usual) than here, but what about you? Who are the men in your life “who get it”? Regardless of what you’re doing with your life, what man has been your best advocate?
Love this article. You two inspire me so. My guy gets it too. We encourage one another and love operating as a blessed alliance. I'm so grateful for him. When I became free to be all God created me to be, he got the full partner he was meant to have.
I've been privileged to know several men worthy of tribute. My husband first and foremost, Mike Gwartney and Gregg Murray to mention a few. I am more because of them.
BUT…there is always hope and I've got my eyes wide open ^:3
…presently one of my fav songs is by Michael Buble'…”Haven't met you yet” Fun 😀
i totally relate to how you describe your first few years of marriage! my husband, ben, was (ans is) huge in terms of pushing me to live out my gifts beyond what i think is possible.
i am also super blessed to have four men – other than my husband – on pastoral staff with me at my church. sometimes those relationships lean a little “big brother/little sister” and there is plenty of razzing, but at the end of the day we all work together to make sure the limb of the Body entrusted to us is flourishing.
Oddly, my ex. He is an addict/abusive, but he has supported my artistic dreams more than any one else. It was/is an odd mix, but I trust him: he has excellent taste, an eye for design, and obviously has shown no intention of sparing my feelings! Despite the sadness of his choices, he has truly pushed me to more greatness.
This is a lovely blog and I am deeply touched. The one thing missing however is that my beloved wife failed to mention that “I am a hunk of burning love” as Elvis might say.
I should add that when Carolyn flourishes, inevitably I flourish too. Of the many who benefit from her ministry and wisdom, no one benefits more that I do. This is a WIN-WIN. Can I get an Amen?
I'm glad you know, Carolyn, how lucky you are. My experience has been the opposite. When I looked to my “brothers” for encouragement and support, the answer came in spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse. I turn, instead, to Jesus – my Husband and Maker who never abuses me.
This is GREAT Carolyn! Motivates me to write one for/about my husband. What a gift these men are to us!!
My husband and father have pushed me along past my comfort zones to be all of me. They are treasures! I've also enjoyed the encouragement and validation of several other men in ministry on a church staff. Thankful…
Many have mentioned their husband, and mine is certainly on that list, but today, I will mention my son, Torrey Mindrebo. He has taken the best traits of his father; honoring and valuing women, and morphed it into his own fun and encouraging and teachable personality. I believe that when a man is truly open to the input and partnership of mothers and sisters he can be “all he was meant to be.” : )
Torrey walked arm in arm with me last Sunday night as we headed to a restaurant in Denver. He said that he was proud of me, and wanted to make sure each of his friends had had the chance to meet and talk with me. It doesn't get better than that! Perhaps someday he will be a great husband and Dad to a lucky family. If not, he is a great gift to the church because he values the WHOLE church! I got to take communion from his hand, the gifts of God for the people of God. I felt I had come full circle!
Love the tributes coming in here and on Facebook of the guys who get it in our lives. I agree with Bev. “What a gift these men are to us!!”
At the same time, I'm grateful for those who courageously posted that the story has turned out differently for you—that in counting the guys in your life who “get it” you come up with zero or worse have experienced abuse. Thank you for telling the truth and keeping us grounded.
Progress is encouraging. We're seeing a lot of it, and for that I am so grateful. But we must never lose sight of others who aren't experiencing progress or ever give up working for change for all of us.
This post brought me to tears. I have had a class with FAJ and loved hearing him speak about your marriage partnership on occasion during class. Praise God for men that value the women in their lives and encourage them to press into their gifts and calling!
Wow. I cannot tell you what a blessing this article was to me tonight. I was totally thinking just such words the other day! Such beautiful, fun, uplifting, inspiring words! Men are amazing, the ones who get it, change the world one heart at a time! I've had friends do that for me it and I've never been the same. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!!