Sunday, May 2, 2010

Girl Power or Holy Spirit Power?

“…Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

It would make for an interesting discussion whether Queen Esther operated in girl power or God’s power. She certainly had power since she was able to successfully influence the King. She dared not act independently or self-assertively as it could have cost her banishment and shame. She had no real rights. Esther was completely under her husband’s power and control – more than any other woman in the Kingdom.

The 2001 Oxford English Dictionary added the term Girl Power defining it as: “Power exercised by girls; specifically a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness and individualism.” Even we who are in ministry to Muslim women have been influenced by this phenomenon that entered our society with the coming of the Spice Girls in the mid 1990’s. It affects how we may view other women. We can make assumptions about the way Muslim women live, comparing their lives to our western values. We can be convinced they are all oppressed and their head covering is the ultimate proof that they are in bondage and need to be emancipated and empowered. They need girl power! They need to become assertive and independent. Certainly some Muslim women are abused and oppressed – but not all. I know Muslim women who have shed the hijab, become assertive, ambitious and independent. Some of them continue to hurt inside and struggle with anger and desires for revenge and still looking for peace and happiness.

We can be influenced by the world’s pursuit of girl power. I was speaking at a missions conference on a college campus and got engaged in a conversation with an eighteen year old student. She wants to work among Muslims. I shared how western women often uphold becoming independent as the ultimate goal. I knew she would encounter confusion and opposition if she tried to impose this goal upon Muslim women. She needed to know that “making disciples of Jesus” and “making Muslim women independent” aren’t synonymous. When God calls us to minister to Muslim women it is good to think about what kind of power we want to operate in and communicate to them. Girl power or Holy Spirit power? Queen Esther is one of my favorite models. The awesome power that comes from the Holy Spirit goes beyond girl power and ultimately brings reconciliation to broken relationships, restoration of hope and life and doesn’t draw attention to oneself, but rather to Jesus Christ. For Queen Esther it brought about the rescue of her people from death. No amount of girl power could have accomplished that! In our discipling of Muslim women who have decided to follow Jesus(especially here in the West), we need to sort through what our friend’s greatest spiritual needs are. It may not necessarily be to become an independent, assertive woman. Without realizing it we could impose our western girl power values on to her. Rather let’s discover the infinite greatness of what the Spirit can accomplish in and through her. Our biggest goal is to know Jesus and become like Him.

Dear heavenly Father, help me to understand what my Muslim friend really needs. In Jesus name, Amen.