“A man at a Women's Conference?????”
This was the first comment left on my Facebook status this weekend when I made a casual remark that I was helping out at a massive women’s event in our district. It certainly wasn’t the first time I heard it, and I know it won’t be the last. I have been to so many women’s events that I have lost count.
Sometimes I feel bad for my sister Adessa. The first question she gets asked at these events isn’t “How are you?” or “How was your trip?” Instead it is always, “Where’s Jamie?”
At this particular conference, I was a volunteer whose chief job was to turn a light switch
on and off. Yes, you read that correctly. The “Mantour Guy” had the strenuous job of flipping a wall light switch. Actually, it wasn’t even that strenuous of lifting a switch up and down, I simply pushed a button. For an entire weekend, I pushed a button. And I was never so happy to do a job in my whole life!
Why do I enjoy helping out at women’s events?
Is it because, as I replied in the Facebook post mentioned above, our ministry has two women’s ministries under our banner? Not really, they don’t really need me.
Is it because, as a single guy, I hope to meet “The One?” Um, NO!!
Is it because I want the praise and adoration of others? Yeah right! My sister, her friends, and our friends from church all openly mocked what they saw as my trivial job. Praise and adoration isn’t what I get at these things, it is good-natured ribbing, teasing, and mocking!
Do I do it to impress leaders…anyone who knows me knows that isn’t it.
So why do I do it? Why do I volunteer?
I do it to make up for the other men in my family. I do it to break generational patterns. You see, I come from a LONG line of men in my family, on both sides, who treated women REALLY badly. They were abusive, demeaning, and often cruel. They were oppressive, and they treated women like things or objects. They domineered over women and expected women to serve them.
My father acted like this. He kept tight reigns on my mom. I remember when I was young she wanted to take Bible college classes more than anything, but he refused to allow her to take them. He squelched all of her dreams and desires. I grew up watching this behavior, and it became my behavior. I was just like the other generations before me.
Then about 15 years ago, God started really convicting me about how I treated women. He showed me that my degrading and condescending attitude toward women was not how a godly man acts. He showed me that having to always rule over women or keep women in their place was sin. He started showing me that Jesus didn’t treat women this way. I realized I needed to change my behavior.
However, I kept failing horribly. Without even knowing I was doing it, I would expect women to wait on me or be at my beck and call. It was natural for me to ignore what women said to me because, after all, they were just women. I would fail and fail miserably, hurting and offending the women close to me.
I would be heartbroken afterwards. I would beg God to forgive me and change me. Then I would pick myself back up and start over again on my quest to be a godly man in my relationships with women.
Slowly, the one step forward, two steps back pattern started to become 2 steps forward and one step back through the changing power of God. I strove to learn more about how Jesus treated women. I spent time in prayer repenting for my awful behavior towards women. Over the next year, God did a heart surgery on me, and I began to become a different man.
I realized something during this trek. I was called by God to kill my family legacy and start a new legacy. Exodus 20:6 says, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
I am the fourth generation. I had a choice to make. I could continue the evil legacy, or I could start a new one. Now I am the first of what I believe will be a thousand years of godly treatment of women in the Holden family.
That is why I serve at these events. While I don’t believe in penitence getting us forgiveness, I do believe I need to do something to make up for the countless things men did to hurt women. It helps kill the pattern.
So I serve. I do what I can to help them. Not for praise. Not for adoration. Not for a good reputation. Not even for a thank you. I do it to deal a blow to the generation legacy I have abandoned. I enjoy kicking it when it is down. I love seeing it being left behind.
Recently a female friend met one of the men in my family and commented to Adessa, “He has such angry eyes.” Adessa asked her if she saw the same in me. Her reply, “No, He has kind, loving eyes.”
I don’t have my fore-fathers eyes, I have my Father’s eyes…my Heavenly Father’s! And for 1,000 generations, my family will be the same through the power of Jesus.
Why do I tell you all of this? Trust me, I am not bragging or taking credit for any of this change. I don’t roll that way. I know that none of it is possible except for the power of God. To God be all the glory! If it wasn’t for God, I would still be the guy women mutter “What a jerk” when they walked away from me!
I share it with you in hopes of encouraging you that no matter what you grew up with, what you are facing in life, no matter what your sin or weakness or struggle, there is victory for God’s children.
There is no activity, mindset, behavioral pattern, sin or bondage that God cannot free you from in your life. If you are willing to face your weakness, ask God to change it, and dedicate yourself to overcoming it and persevering through failures, God will set you free. Only God can change a heart, we can’t do it on our own, but through His power, He can set you free.
Whatever battle you are trying to overcome, I encourage you to boldly face your situation head on, acknowledging it, and then take it to God in prayer. Ask Him to give you the victory. Ask Him to show you how to overcome. Ask Him for a new, pure heart. Allow Him to do the healing. Make any changes He asks you to make.
You can allow God to change you and make you into a new man. Then, when He does, kick your legacy while it’s down. Find ways to go against the tide. For me, it is serving at women’s events. You have to find out what it is for you. But find it. Make a statement before God and to the enemy that you’re not going to continue the legacy, you are starting a new line of godliness. You can do it! God can do it through you!
“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:6