Understanding Your Kingdom AssignmentApril 23, 2008
What are women really designed to do and be? On the broadcast today, author and pastor Dr. Robert Lewis talks with Dennis and Barbara Rainey about a woman’s core callings.
What are women really designed to do and be? On the broadcast today, author and pastor Dr. Robert Lewis talks with Dennis and Barbara Rainey about a woman’s core callings.
Understanding Your Kingdom Assignment
Bob: Does God have different assignments for men and for women? And what happens in a culture if we decide that those assignments are interchangeable – if the men can just as easily fulfill God's assignment for women and if the women can just as easily fulfill God's assignment for men? Dr. Robert Lewis says we're about to find out, and we may not like the answer.
Robert: We are running headlong into role reversal in a major way where women are going to be the primary breadwinners, men are going to be a confused lot, kids are going to grow up wounded and confused, and we're going to create a disfigured culture who is going to try to do it totally different than what God designed. And so in going after the forbidden fruit, we are going to get the very pain the first Eve experienced.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, April 23rd. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Does it really matter who does what between men and women in a marriage or in a culture? We think it does. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You know, we've been talking this week about God's design for femininity, for womanhood, and I think we've agreed that from our perspective women need to look at the source, at the Scriptures, for where they're going to get their picture of womanhood. But I think we've also agreed that you can look there and walk away and go, "Okay, I still have some questions," and that's what we're trying to wrestle with here as we deal with this subject.
Dennis: That's right, and to help us do that, we've asked Dr. Robert Lewis to come in and join us. Robert, welcome back.
Robert: Thanks, it's great to be here.
Dennis: And the most perfect woman in all the world for me.
Barbara: Oh, that helps.
Bob: That qualifier.
Barbara: I fell for it, gosh, that's pretty bad.
Dennis: My wife, Barbara, joins us back …
Barbara: I was getting ready to get up and walk out of the studio with that first part of your line.
Dennis: Back by popular demand of our listeners, Barbara Rainey joins us, and for those who don't know Robert, he is a pastor, has been the pastor for more than three decades; has been the speaker on Men's Fraternity, a video series now being hosted in more than 16,000 churches around the country; author of "Raising a Modern Day Knight"; used to speak at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences along with his wife, Sherrod. They have four children, live here in Little Rock, and he's just authored a new book called "The New Eve," and I know it's a biblical book not just because of the title, Robert, but in the beginning of the book you take us back to the book of beginnings, Genesis.
Now, why do you do that to begin this dialog and discussion around the issue of true femininity? Why do you go back to the Book of Genesis?
Robert: Well, because it is the book of beginnings, primarily, Dennis, and that's what Genesis means, it means beginnings, and so I think anytime you want to script your life, one of the things you want to do is find out what God had in mind when He originally created it.
You know, years ago, Alex Haley wrote a book called "Roots," and the reason he wrote the book "Roots," is as an African-American he felt rootless, and he didn't know what should an African-American be like? What was our heritage? What should we be carrying forward? So that whole book was – and even the film series that followed, was his journey to go back into Africa and find kind of the beginnings to give him a better sense of his identity.
I think anybody who wants to know their identity, one of the first places we ought to go is to Genesis.
Dennis: So it's not old-fashioned for a woman to go back to the Book of Genesis?
Robert: Or men, no, it's to back to say – if we really want to know who we are, we ought to go back to where the blueprint originally was designed. What did the Designer have in mind for us when He created us, because He didn't create us in a vacuum. He created us with some core callings, and I think what God's goal is, even now in the 21st century, is to press us back to His original ideals.
Bob: You think before the fall, before Genesis, chapter 3, where Adam and Eve fell into temptation, there was a blueprint established for what femininity is supposed to look like, and Eve was the embodiment of that?
Robert: That's right – and Adam. And I think it's not something that has to be mined with difficulty. I think it's just there expressed very clearly, and it becomes kind of the core out of which every person builds their life, male or female.
Dennis: So in going back to the Book of Genesis, you believe the directions there before Adam and Eve messed things up.
Robert: [chuckles] Mm-hm.
Dennis: Gives us those guardrails. What are they?
Robert: Well, it gives us three core callings, and I think those core callings are just simply there – one, you see God calling this man and woman that He's created together to leave and cleave, to become one, and so that becomes one of the first purposes for being created, and that is to have lifelong companionship, hopefully, intimate companionship with the opposite sex.
If I was a man or I was a woman, one of my core callings starting out in life, from the time I'm born, is to have that core calling nurtured in my life by my parents and hopefully by culture, although the culture today doesn't really lead us there as well as it used to.
Bob: There are some who are going to be set apart for singleness who are called to that, but that's the exception not the rule, right?
Robert: In every one of these there are exceptions but not the rule. I think we need to look at the general blueprint. So the first thing for a woman is to have intimate and healthy companionship with a male for a lifetime. That's the leave and cleave.
Then, secondly, flowing out of that, God said, "I want you to be fruitful and multiply." Not just to raise up children but to raise up what I think are God-glorifying children, healthy, well-established children, to bless the next generation.
Then the last thing is He said, "Subdue and rule," and part of that was because when God created this first man and woman, they were just in one spot on the earth. His goal was to cover the earth with these God-glorifiers. And so there is a kingdom-advancing concept placed within the DNA of every human being.
Our goal in life, one of our primary goals in life, is to advance His kingdom in some aspect on this planet. So when I think of my masculinity, of my femininity, starting out of the gates that should, in a sense, govern every other decision in my life, what should be these guiding principles, is that I should have companionship, I should advance a healthy next generation, and I should, in some way, advance, through my own unique gifts, not just through my children, God's kingdom on earth, and I should not let any other choice or any other talent or any other opportunity undercut those primary core callings.
Now, having said that, there are a lot of other things I'm going to be able to do, and I want to do those things, and part of those are going to be God's will for my life as well, but I know I'm offtrack when whatever I choose begins to infect or undercut those basic core callings.
Bob: Well, let me ask you – is there a priority order in your mind on those three? Because a woman can say, okay, I'm with you on that, and I want to do all I can do for the glory of God in my relationship with my husband and raising my kids and advancing the kingdom but just those three, sometimes, advancing the kingdom and raising my kids and my husband – those are clashing, and I'm not sure how to make a choice in the middle of all of that.
Robert: Yeah, I don't think that there, in a sense, a priority to those things. I think what that is is that's where you've got to find your own path, your own wisdom with the Holy Spirit, and you're going to have helpers along the way. You're going to have your mate, you're going to have counselors and those kind of things, but I think what you're doing is constantly using that as your dashboard.
So I think, starting out, a young woman growing up, one of the things that you want to cultivate in her as a parent is a love for the opposite sex and the roles and those kind of things but also helping her develop her abilities in school and those kind of things because she needs to have a vision of how she can use those in life, and at the same time a love for children.
So all those things are being given to her. Now, how to manage those in the day-to-day, that's going to end up being her own personal script, and she's going to need help in those kind of things but, still, just those three as a guiding center could help a lot of women today in the world of opportunity that they're swimming in.
Bob: I like your dashboard metaphor because we do look at the dashboard and say, "Okay, how is the oil pressure, and how is the fuel, and how is the speedometer and, in the same way, you can look at your relationship with your husband, your relationship with your children, your kingdom assignment, and say is there anything that's low? Or is there anything that's revving up too high and make some adjustments so that there is balance in all three of those areas.
But let me ask you again about the single woman who is saying, "Well, I don't have a lifelong companionship with a husband, I don't have kids of my own to be raising. Does that mean that I should go full speed ahead on kingdom assignment and just kind of set those other two aside until God brings something along?"
Robert: Well, when you say "Set them aside," it's just how you set them aside. I think you have to take life as God delivers it to you in that sense, but what I wouldn't do is just because I was a single woman and say, "Okay, because I've got this vacuum of male companionship, I'm just going to throw myself so headlong into other things that I isolate myself from those opportunities."
You don't want to do that. You want to know that unless God specifically calls you to be one of those rare exceptions and, by the way, it is a rare exception that God is going to bring into my life, so I need to be cultivating those male relationships along the way, putting myself in situations that create companionship opportunities, and they need to be encouraged in that, not encouraged to sit home and watch movies on Friday and Saturday night and just kind of isolate myself thinking, "Woe is me." That's not the way to do it.
And friends need to be encouraging one another in that regard, and mixing themselves with the opposite sex in all kinds of – what I'd call "healthy" environments, and there's a number of those, in order to ultimately encounter that one you're going to live a lifetime with.
Bob: Barbara, let me ask you about these three gauges or these guardrails that Robert's talked about – the relationship for a lifetime with a man, the relationship with your children, and then your kingdom assignment. That's a pretty full life right there, and a lot of women look at those three and go, "Okay, I understand, but I want more out of life than that." You know what I mean?
Bob: Did you ever feel like, well, yeah, I'm happy to have these things, but I want more.
Dennis: She had so many children, Bob …
Bob: Didn't have time to think that, huh?
Dennis: That's right.
Barbara: But there were moments when I did, because there are times when you are raising children, if you make the choice that I made, which is that's going to be my primary vocation is raising my kids, but there were plenty of times when I was home with my children thinking, "This is boring," you know, "and there must be something else that's a lot more exciting than changing diapers and disciplining children and fixing hot dogs for lunch," I mean, come on, that's not real exciting stuff.
Bob: And somebody's saying to you, "Oh, I'm off on a business trip to here," or somebody else is saying to you, "Oh, I got to go do this," and you're thinking "and all I'm doing is hot dogs."
Barbara: Yeah, exactly, and you're getting spit up on and things like that, and it can feel very insignificant. But, again, I like the illustration of it being the gauges on the dashboard, too, because the way I helped myself through those times when I would have those thoughts was looking at the dashboard and saying, "My investment in children is my contribution to the kingdom," and to realize that that was how I was contributing to the kingdom in that season of life. And, again, it's the season principle that's so important. This isn't all of my life, and it will not be this way forever.
And so often we, as women, especially when we've got little kids, it feels forever. But remembering the season principle, this is a season of my life and that God is going to take me from here into another season someday, and then He may open doors of opportunity for me that I can't even imagine right now.
Robert: And, you know, I really appreciate Barbara saying that because although we're jumping ahead a little bit, one of the five bold moves other than to live from the inside out, these core callings, is to embrace a big-picture perspective on life, and in the book I go through the 10 seasons of a woman's life so that she doesn't try to cram everything into one particular season and destroy, really, what God wants to give her just in that season and sacrifice that longing for something that God was going to give her, anyway, in another season.
My daughter, right now, who – my daughter, Elizabeth, who just had her second child, you know, she was an executive country-hopping negotiator with Accenture over in Europe and had this grand life and now she's at home asking some of the questions Barbara just said. It's almost like I was hearing Elizabeth talk through Barbara just there, where she's cleaning dirty diapers for two kids, 13 months and under, and saying, "Is this going to ever get better?"
But the truth of the matter is, it will if you embrace that big-picture perspective of life.
Bob: But, Robert, the woman who is country-hopping, Europe executive, and she's looking at the gauges on her dashboard right now, and she's going, "Okay, the husband thing is a little low because our relationship – we just have not had – we haven't been together in the last week," and the kid thing is a little low, I'm running low on that …
Dennis: And the biological clock is ticking.
Bob: And the kingdom thing, I'm doing the best I can at work, but I haven't seen a whole lot of spiritual fruit coming out of that, but this is the job I've got so how do I have this job and get those gauges up?
Robert: Well, that's a great question and sometimes it might actually mean leaving the job because there may be places for a woman where she's looking at the gauges, and if they're as low as you just said, that may mean some major defining moment in her life, because those gauges are signaling something, and that's why they're so important. That's why you're reading your dashboard, and if you look and all three of them were low, it would probably mean there is some major shift that you need to make. You may not be able to know what that is yourself. You may need counsel, you may need some wise people coming around you, but the very fact that those things are signaling danger is not a bad thing, it's a good thing.
Bob: And, by the same token, you would say to a man who is looking at gauges like that on his dashboard, you may have to dial back on your job, too, to nurture your relationship with your wife or with your kids. But it does seem, in this culture, like we give men more of a pass than we give women. You know, they can be away from their wife for a week, and we don't say that there is any issue, or they can not have spent a lot of time with the kids or not be involved in kingdom things and we go, "Well, you know, they've got bring home the bacon."
Robert: Well, that's exactly why I did Men's Fraternity, because I want to light up the dashboard for men because I don't think that they get a pass. God – when it comes to core calling – is equal opportunity.
Dennis: Yeah, and he calls men to …
Dennis: … the right stuff, too.
Robert: He does, and when guys get it in terms of masculinity, their own guiding center, I think it actually energizes guys to not have to do it; they want to do it. They get energized because they see it in a context that makes sense to them as men.
Dennis: And what I've seen, Robert, is when men finally understand how they're to light up the dashboard, as you say, and get their priorities right and their pursuits in correct order. As they go home, they can better lead their wives in her struggle to find out what her purpose is and how she is to make her choices and her pursuits in life. But if he's unclear, he can't lead her.
Robert: And, see, that's part of the problem is they're not clear, and it's in that confusion that you have all this angst, pain, problems, and accusations. But if two people, a man and a woman in marriage, are clear about what their pursuits are, their core callings, where two are joined together and agreed, there is a lot greater harmony when they're living for the same thing than when they're living for different things.
Bob: I'm going to ask you one of those questions that's a hot-potato question.
Dennis: Bob likes this kind of stuff.
Bob: Let's say a husband and wife are looking, and they're saying, you know, both of our dashboards are showing low. We're banging empty on our relationship, our kids are not getting enough of our time, we're not as involved in kingdom stuff as we want to be, here is what we'll decide to do. "Sweetheart, you're making a little more money than I am, anyway. I'm the husband, I'll stay home, take care of the kids. I'm going to try and balance out the family dashboard by being the house husband, and you continue to make the money and support us." Valid option for a Christian couple to make?
Robert: It may be a valid option for a short period of time, but I think what's going to happen is in that role reversal, that instinctive role reversal that I think God has built in, I think you're going to see, in time, a longing of the wife who makes that choice back to her children because she's going to be taken out of the day-to-day experiences that she so enjoys. And for the husband I think it's going to create an angst in his masculine soul for not being the kind of leader and provider God intended him to be.
Dennis: You know, as we're talking about this, I reflect back on a sermon you gave at our church when we used to not have a building. We actually met in a theater, and you began a message where you taught some of this material when you were originally studying the Scriptures, and do you remember the little sign that you held up at the beginning of that sermon? This is radio, so you can't hold the sign up, but what did the sign say that you help up before you started speaking from Genesis, chapter 1, 2, and 3?
Robert: It just said, "I love women."
It was not a putdown at all in any of these things.
Dennis: No, it's actually calling women to go back to the book of beginnings, the Book of Genesis, and take a look at God's original design and say "So what? What does that mean to me today and in light of the confusing messages of the culture and the drumbeat of and the pace of this culture, which is just bringing it to us at an ever-increasing pace and speed, to pull back long enough to evaluate, "What are my priorities? Where are my pursuits?"
Robert: That's right and, again, I think that any listener out there may have some rare exception. I mean, there may be the woman out there whose husband had some kind of infirmity …
Bob: There's a disability …
Robert: Yeah, she's had to do that, and, quite frankly, she's been heroic, and she had to give up something of her feminine heart in order to do that for which her husband is very grateful, and he stepped in and provided something by having been in that condition that was extraordinary for him. So we're going to have some exceptions.
I'm talking about the way God intended it to be when He created man and woman and that needs to be the general blueprint. What I'm fearful of with the pace and direction of our culture is that we are running headlong into role reversal in a major way where women are going to be the primary breadwinners, the primary powerbrokers and those kind of things. Men are going to be not the homemakers, they're going to be a confused lot in all different things. Kids are going to grow up in single-parent households wounded and confused, and we're going to create a greater and greater dysfunction, and we're going to get the very pain the first Eve experienced.
Bob: You know, that sign you held up that said, "I love women," obviously, our listeners can't see you holding up that sign today, but they can see the book that you've written, which is a new sign that says you love women because the book, "The New Eve," it's a pro-woman book. It's trying to help women embrace and understand and engage with God's design for biblical womanhood.
We've got the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if you're interested in getting a copy, it's very easy. Go to our website, FamilyLife.com. On the home page, on the right side, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast," and if you click where it says "Learn More," it will take you to the area of the site where you can find out more about Robert's book, about other resources we have available that are designed to help you understand God's call for a woman including the book by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock called "Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God," and if any of our listeners are interested in getting both books, we'll send along at no additional cost the CD audio of this week's programs to review or to pass along to others.
Again, all of the information about this can be found on our website at FamilyLife.com. Click the box on the right side of the screen that says "Today's Broadcast," and you can order these resources online from us, or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. When you call, someone on our team will make arrangements to have the resources you'd like sent out to you.
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Now, tomorrow we want to talk about what a woman ought to do if she becomes weary in her well doing as a woman; when the grass starts to look greener in other pastures, what do you do? How do you deal with that? We'll talk more about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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