Several months ago, I was asked to lead worship for a women’s workshop at my church. Apparently our church was hosting this event and women from several other local churches would be attending. I agreed to lead worship but I was extremely wary of this workshop. Sure, that sounds pessimistic but I had been to enough of these things that I knew the drill. Women’s workshops are almost always the same thing. For all intents and purposes, these workshops were usually a giant pep rally. We’re told that we’re precious pearls, sparkling rubies, and just so very lovely. It’s very reminiscent of a self-help seminar. Lots of drug-store psychology and shallow encouragements. There is no substance.
In addition to comparing women to precious gems and stones, there is another common theme in so many women’s workshops and seminars: the B-word. We are told, over and over again, how beautiful we are. If women just realized how absolutely beautiful they are, then…well …then what?
It is often assumed that most women struggle with self-confidence and have very low self-esteem. We seem to believe the solution is to fluff them up. Get women to just realize how wonderful, precious, and beautiful they are, and it will all be better. The problem with this is that is neither Biblical nor effective.
A lack of self-esteem exists within the same ditch as pride, it just looks a little different. A prideful person is likely to believe themselves to be better than others. They tend to assume they must be right and everyone else is wrong. There is an unhealthy focus on self. The gal who says she has really low self-esteem is likely in that same exact ditch. Instead of focusing on how wonderful she is, her focus is on how terrible she is. There also is a tendancy to compare yourself to those around you (same as pride)…which…yuck. While we’re shooting from different angles, we’re arriving at the same place: a total focus on self.
When we encourage women to find their value in their physical beauty, we’re also setting them up to fail. As Scripture tells us in Proverbs 31, beauty is fleeting. It doesn’t last forever. There will come a day when you are old and wrinkled; then what? Beauty is also subjective. Maybe the women’s minister at your church says you’re beautiful. What happens if someone disagrees? And frankly, should that be our focus? Is that where our worth as Christian women lies?
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice. I want to be clear on that. I’m not saying if you like to put on makeup or do your hair that you’re in the wrong. It’s totally fine to want to look nice, but that is not where our worth lies. Looking pretty certainly is not the core of being a Godly woman. You have worth and value because God says you do, not because someone tells you that you’re pretty.
When I read about some of the amazing women of the Bible, I see women who worked pretty darn hard. They weren’t spending their days getting the perfect flick to their eyeliner. They had other things to do, you know, like be Queen or lead the Israelites into battle. Their eyeliner would just have to wait. The Proverbs 31 is praised because she fears the Lord, not because her eyebrows are on fleek.
Frankly, a woman who focuses on serving God and serving those around isn’t going to be inwardly focused. She just isn’t going to have the time to think about every little flaw of hers because, well, she’s busy. Not to mention, serving those around us makes us feel good. When all we ever do is pamper ourselves, we end up feeling pretty lousy. Maybe God was onto something when He told us to love Him and love our neighbor. And frankly, if we want to better ourselves, our goal should be to mirror Christ, not make ourselves more beautiful.
Maybe, we don’t need to keep telling women how pretty and special and amazing they are. These are just empty words. Maybe, instead, we should encourage women to be who God called them to be. Maybe we should be reminded to serve God and those around us. Maybe, we just need to get our thoughts OFF of ourselves. We need a Godward focus and a desire to be like Christ. And maybe, we can just ditch the B-word for a while.