The word empowerment is one which might be important to the understanding of any person's success or failure. The study of it might explain why our society is so terribly dysfunctional and why gender relationships don't work. An understanding of true empowerment is finally essential to serving God.
Empowerment is, at the simplest level, a general feeling that you are comfortably in control of your life, and that you are a victim of no one or no thing. That, of course, admits that you are responsible for everything in your life, past and present, and that any shortcomings were your fault equally with any praiseworthy acts.
CHOOSE TO ENJOY WHAT IS
It is my personal conclusion that one of the most important and powerful sentences which you can own is this: I choose to enjoy what is! First, it is you who does the choosing. And it is something positive that you have chosen. And, if you can't really enjoy something that is, then you choose to make the best of it without any complaint, accepting the circumstances as your own. Your choices bring to you, each day, whatever circumstances that happen. Those circumstances are simply called, WHAT IS! Whatever you find at each step through your day are the what is. It is your choice to see yourself as responsible (empowered!) for whatever that might be, or else to deny your empowerment and see yourself as a helpless victim of powers that are greater than you. The problem for most people is that they learned as children that victims get sympathy and rewards. The sibling who cries gets mama's attention and affection while the others stand by and watch. The child who admits responsibility for his actions will probably get more criticism than reward. Those lessons of childhood are powerful conditioners of behaviors, and result in miserable lives for any one who refuses to mature in self-responsibility.
A GENDER EXAMPLE
In order to understand the positive attitude, expressed above, let's take a look at the converse, the negative attitude: victim-consciousness. Let's use as an example a woman who has been taught that women are suppressed, and that she is a victim of gender bias and of cultural mindsets. She believes that equality with men will be denied her unless she grasps it with force. Ironically, while she holds that negative belief it matters not what power she might achieve over men because she still holds a core belief that she is less than equal to men, which explains her terrible struggle to climb the ladder. The feminist movement, aka "womens' liberation," has doomed women to a feeling that empowerment is not theirs by nature but must be attained through political, legislative, and social machinations. In other words, she still sees men as natural warriors who live by natural empowerment while hers must be obtained through a battle against gender-bias. For her, it is all terribly unfair and her anger, even though often suppressed, is a stress that will shorten her lifespan and is likely to contribute to a cancer.
By holding such a view, is she wrong? No. She is right. Her deep feeling of unempowerment has nothing to do with gender-bias or feminine oppression. The truth is that she has been taught to deny her natural, divinely appointed, function as a female in order to usurp the role of her counterpart, the male. Modern culture teaches her that her natural role is demeaning and contemptible. The burden of bearing children is unfair; housekeeping is unfair; and submission to her husband is unfair. She has been taught that the Bible is chauvinistic and unfair to women. She has learned that the only role of any value is that of the male, and if she wants to value herself, then she must take over his function. You see, what she has been taught has left her no possibility of self-respect unless she goes to war against a male dominated world and takes a man's position forcefully. Ironically, even if she does that, she still knows that she had to use all kinds of tools, like politics, gender legislation, conniving, scheming, and any other power she can call on to obtain what a man gets naturally. In the end, it is not possible for her to feel that her natural empowerment carried her to victory. She knows that if she dares to stop fearing male power then they will naturally and casually drift in to fill her place as easily as water flows into a hole where something was just removed.
As a man, I cry out against the great unfairness done to her by a liberal movement which taught women their natural roles are contemptible. Certainly, she cannot feel empowered while holding a mindset that is a lie and demeans the very nature of women. She will live out her life as though she lives in hell, no matter what level of executive power she ever attains. The genuine happiness of natural empowerment can never be hers while she is stressed by living a lie.
So, we can see that empowerment requires one to be true to his or her God-given nature. Contrary to the modern, liberal psychosis, there are essential differences between the male and female genders. The wildlife out there in the woods and fields present to an observor plenty of clear lessons about the natural roles of genders. Males ARE dominant as a general rule while females are submissive. Males are warriors and females are nurturers. In spite of the anti-nature liberals who are trying to direct society today, the female wolves are content and fulfilled by their natural functions and they don't desire to usurp the warrior males. It never crosses their minds that only the alpha-male has value or deserves respect. Fortunately, they can't learn from professors at Harvard. So, by performing her natural function in the wolf-pack, she is fulfilled and satisfied and respected equally to any other member of the pack. She performs her role with determination and enthusiasm, without complaint or self-contempt or any kind of negative feeling. She doesn't see herself as a victim and has no jealousy of another, with the result that she exercises her natural empowerment wonderfully and successfully. She has never questioned her role or envied another. She is psychologically healthy and beautiful and marvelous to behold!
While I have used the gender problem of modern females as an example to illustrate a lack of empowerment, it is not the gender issue that I want to address in this article. We are looking at empowerment.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EMPOWERMENT
The modern science of psychology, developed during the past hundred and fifty years, teaches that dysfunctional lives result from traumas one has experienced, mostly in childhood. Instead of permitting you to be responsible for your own life and happiness, they offer you an excuse to blame outside circumstances for your personal problems. A psychologist earns income by listening to you relate all the woes of childhood, especially how your parents mistreated you and caused you to be such a mess. There is no end to such analysis; they offer no method to get finally past all that self-pity and be happy. You must wallow in the unhappiness of processing that "stuff" forever. Such analysis confirms your lack of empowerment and sets it fast as a victim-consciousness which then justifies unhappiness, resentment, self-pity, and anger at others for the rest of your life. Many people have embraced that kind of pitiful processing as though it equates with compassion, is healthy, or is even a path to normalcy and balance. They believe that one cannot be truly healthy without dredging up all the pitiful and unfair events of life so others can be blamed for his misery. They are taught that empowerment is impossible until all the unfairness is processed and released, except that there is no technique by which to actually release it and walk on as empowered.
I object to modern psychology, believing that it results in greater dysfunction. I think that empowerment is a natural result of accepting the past as what was and setting it aside while you choose to enjoy what is today. The act of choosing to enjoy whatever you experience this day is an act of empowerment. By committing that act, you are empowered and no one can take that power away from you. The world might assail you and try to victimize you, but if you accept responsibility for whatever happens, especially the bad things, then you have not lost your empowerment and secondly, that empowerment will help you to rise above your difficulties. You might read this and think of terrible things which prove one can be a victim of outside circumstances, but I would remind you of the early Christians who individually chose to stand for Christ even though they were thrown to lions for sport or crucified. They accepted those terrible consequences because they felt empowered to do so; they acted from strength, not as victims. Consequently, they proved their empowerment and they won the greater victory which God offers to those who overcome this world. Here is the path which Jesus demonstrated.
EXERCISING YOUR EMPOWERMENT
Further, empowerment is not just the act of choosing to enjoy whatever happens to you today, but to make those events your own. Let's say there is a task required of you that is unpleasant. You might feel that you are a victim of circumstances, otherwise you wouldn't have to do the thing. But, you can choose to undertake it with vigor and enthusiasm, putting yourself into the task and making the best of it, just as though you initiated it in the first place. By doing that, you exercise your empowerment and you can choose to enjoy doing a good job of it. When it is finished, you will feel good about it. You are also strengthening your own empowerment. It's a win-win method.
I remember when my wife learned drafting and got a job with the Department of Aviation. She chose to volunteer for the unpleasant drafting jobs that others moaned about. She was someone the boss could rely on. She maintained a cheerful and helpful attitude. Within a year, she was supervisor of that drafting office. By choosing to exercise her empowerment in a positive and cheerful way, she set herself apart from all those who lived a victim-consciousness.
A woman can do the same thing in her personal home life. She can accept responsibility for her situation in life, that she chose to get married. Her circumstances didn't happen without her presence and her participation. She is no victim at all. Even though she might desire a nicer home or finances or even a more compatible partner, she can choose how she will perform the function of her role, and thereby choose happiness or misery. Certainly her husband will exercise the male dominance traits that are natural to him. It was his dominant strength that made her feel safe with him in the first place, but if she later challenges his leadership, big trouble is sure to follow. It should be her delight to encourage his strength and dominance, thereby being his helpmeet and partner rather than his opponent. She doesn't need to challenge his role or usurp his position. She has a full job with making a home, providing meals, caring for him and children, and doing household chores. She can undertake her natural functions happily with enthusiasm and make the very best of them, in which case at the end of each day she will feel good about herself and her husband will admire her all the more. Or she can choose to view her tasks as unpleasant and demeaning and thereby make her life a misery and make herself sorry in her husband's eyes. While a husband might have a bad down now and then, no man will abuse a wife who is cheerful and supportive and who dotes on him with love. He will adore her and give himself totally for her happiness, for that is his natural inclination. A wife's positive attitude can turn an ogre into a prince and she will have the happiness she seeks, regardless that the home or finances aren't all that she dreamed of when she was a little girl. It is her choice to exercise her empowerment happily or to do the opposite and play the role of a poor suffering wife of a tyrant. Whichever she chooses, it was by her empowerment that she made that choice, which means that her empowerment was there all the time. Many women use their empowerment to deny themselves happiness and fulfillment by playing the sympathy card, never learning that no one can give them the happiness they seek but themselves. Many women come to the end of life to look back on unhappiness that was their own fault and could have been different if they had just been willing to choose to enjoy what is rather than to play the victim.
WHOM DO WE SERVE?
Simply, the male serves God for he is God's offspring. The female serves the male for she was designed to be his helpmeet. In this way, both serve God as one. I like the analogy of a ship in God's Service, where the male is the captain and keeps his focus on the main objectives and distant goal, hopefully to arrive there safely. The female is the first officer. It is her job to maintain the ship (home) itself. She is the boss over the crew as she nurtures them and makes life enjoyable. The captain is grateful that she shares the work of the journey so that he can devote his attention to the goal ahead. Consider that she was attracted to him in the first place as the man to be her captain, to whom she would play first officer. Modern liberal education has taught generations of women that they should be the captains, and that men are nothing but the morons portrayed in counterculture sitcoms. Whereas God's Men have spiritual goals which over-ride material values, it is the natural instinct of women to devote themselves to practical worldly values, as they would as first officers of ships. Modern liberals despise spiritual values and goals because they recognize no values except worldly material ones. Genuine happiness and contentment are possible only to those who yield themselves to God's design, with the male as the dominant strength and the female as his helpmeet while both devote their lives to their ship's arrival at God's port.
God's design is the ultimate what is that men and women should accept happily and apply themselves to anew each day. If God is the general script writer, then the events of my day are intended for my benefit, perhaps for my strengthening or discipline or guidance, and I can choose to give myself fully to those events. My empowerment is exercised in the act of choosing to do each day whatever seems best according to God's will, and is further exercised as I apply myself to the day's chores. It is my great joy to think that God has my leash in His hand and that He will use it to guide me if I try to go astray. Perhaps a good analogy is to think of myself as God's plowhorse, wanting to work His design. He knows where I should go, but I often get distracted and need His guidance to get back on the right path. I know that if I choose to serve Him with enthusiasm and joy, then my empowerment is pleasing to Him and He will fill me with ever more and more of His spirit and power. If I revert to fearfulness and a victim-consciousness, or to selfish desires, or to worldly gratifications, then I have failed Him.
THERE YOU HAVE IT: EMPOWERMENT!
So, empowerment is yours already. You are empowered to choose enthusiasm and happiness or weakness and misery. Whichever you choose, you have used your empowerment to exercise that choice. If you are unhappy in your daily life, you are the one who chose to be unhappy and it is no one else's fault. You can choose to claim happiness just as easily as you chose the misery. If you get some kind of satisfaction from being a victim, you will have to give that up. Then you can straighten up your back and walk with the confident empowerment that God wills for you. Always the childhood lessons of powerlessness are right before you and you can, at any moment, choose that unhappy condition. You can always think back to the unfair events of life and wallow in self-pity because someone else stepped on you. Such temptations to revert back to that sorry state will get less and less frequent as you choose to serve God with your whole self happily and enthusiastically. The first step out of self-pity might be a little difficult, but the next steps along God's path will be much easier and joyous beyond your imagination.
I pray that you will look upward to the author and finisher of your faith, trusting that He will never betray you or abandon you as you give yourself to His will.
by Roger Hathaway, May, 2005
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