In this series, we are going to be taking time to get to know some overlooked and undervalued women of the bible, yet key figures in their own right. All were diligent in carrying out the work of the Lord, but unfortunately they are barely mentioned in bible studies, teachings, and sermons. I think its time we learned their names! As we go on this journey, I invite you to grab some pen and paper so you can take notes on these mighty women of God! Their stories are a shining example of how God can use even the most ordinary of persons to do extraordinary things.
You know it’s funny, when I was younger I remember talking to God about how I understood that I was more of the ‘do work behind the scenes’ sort of person and that I accepted it as my lot. I was never the “it girl” or the popular one. I was the smart girl that popular ones came to for help and answers on homework and classroom assignments. It gave me proximity to them, but never granted me full membership to their inner circle. Not going to lie, it wasn’t always the easiest to deal with, especially in my high school days, but I always found solace in one of my forever loves–reading. Whether it was a literary or informational text, I immersed myself into the world of words on the page. I especially developed a deep love for historical nonfiction. The attraction was that these stories involved characters I could relate to; who looked like me, hailed from similar backgrounds and demographics, and shared some of the same struggles.
Specifically, one topic that provided so much encouragement was reading about The Civil Rights Movement. And of course, particularly the women involved. Now, I would be remiss not to point out the fact that the public education system has done such a grave disservice to students by approving curriculums which only provide a too basic, severely watered-down version of the incredibly complex, expansive history of black people in America. The main players (i.e. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ) are given precedence while the host of other vital contributors to the movement are… well,… overlooked and undervalued. Women in particular are barely mentioned (save for Rosa Parks and perhaps Fannie Lou Hamer) relegating their efforts in the fight for justice and equality to one of virtual non-existence.
Thus, sadly, I do not know the names of the phenomenal, dedicated women I came across involved in the fight for civil rights behind-the-scenes. But, I do remember that they were able to make an incomparable impact on the movement through their commitment and hard work–organizing folks, creating pamphlets and flyers, answering phone calls, making meals, and so much more. These were the boots on the ground; they were shouldering the movement through grassroots efforts and community engagement.
When I pause to reflect on the fact that I don’t remember their names though, it begs me to examine the framework in which narratives and historical accounts are constructed. Oftentimes, they utilize the heroes & giants trope to magnify one man (or woman) as if that person single-handedly accomplished the major victories of which they are being written about. As a result, this formula helps promote the idea of the "talented-tenth"; the crème de la crèmes of the world, the upper echelons of humanity that are the sole proprietors of our attention, awe and admiration.
However, the Civil Rights Movement, and any movement for that matter, is not about any one person. It's the collective action and mobilization of many that works together to create and bring about true, tangible, and sustainable change. The same is true for the church: it is not about any one pastor, deacon, youth minister or prophet--it takes all of us. Each and every one of us has been equipped by God to be used in building the kingdom. The custodial connoisseurs, worship team, band, pastor, church elders, and every last member of the body all hold equal shares.
Society loves to create hierarchical systems as a means of reinforcing ideas about superiority vs. inferiority. These systems promote the fallacy that in life there are the special, gifted ones–folks that have some sort of otherworldly talent, skill or ability that in some way sets them apart from the rest of us commoners. I mean, just look at the way we glorify (and in many ways worship) celebrities. They become liken unto gods.
But I am here to tell you that the lie detector determined: they are not the Father!
This dichotomy of the special ones vs. the ordinary ones is one of the greatest forms of mass deception and is just another distorted picture of reality leading us towards destruction.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but we are all just ordinary people. (Cue the John Legend song).
That celebrity, historical figure, political leader, or creative that you look up to isn't any more exceptional than you are. Truthfully, no one is "special."
We are all born with unique talents, gifts and abilities that are meant to be shared within our sphere of influence. What God has for you is for you!
Whether your audience is a small book club, your child’s PTO, your family, workplace, the boardroom, or a major public platform– the truth is that you were specifically designed and called to dominate in that specific environment.
We can often overlook the power of our influence because it's not trending on social media or being broadcasted and publicized on TV and in magazines. However, allow me to share this very important message with all of you: "There is exponential value in growing where you are planted."
Grow where you’re planted.
Grow where you’re planted.
Grow. Where. You're. Planted.
Keep repeating it to yourself until it finally sinks in and becomes in-sync with how you think about and feel towards wherever you're currently stationed in life at this moment.
There’s power in your positioning no matter how seemingly small or large. And the good news is that In the eyes of God, there is no system of hierarchy. We are all created equal; All endowed with gifts and tools to carry out the work of the kingdom. All blessed and highly favored of the Lord.
It may look like there are supporting and leading roles to the carnal eye. Spiritually however, each role is equally valuable and indispensable.
I hope that as we venture on this journey of learning about these ordinary, every day women of the bible, you can start to grow in your appreciation and admiration towards them. They may not have had a so-called leading role, but their part is still very much worthy of our attention. These women were strategically placed in their environments by God, proving perhaps that there is unlimited power and potential in the least likely of candidates. The common, unexceptional, usual folks are hidden treasures. You might even say, they are secret weapons.
Maybe that was God's original intent all along.
Tomorrow, we'll be kicking off with Shiphrah and Puah, two midwives who chose to defy Pharaohs decree to kill all male Israelite babies, thus playing a vital role in the story of Moses. Hope you check back to learn more!