Two words that seem to have fueled the world's understanding of women in culture in recent decades. Female empowerment is, at its core, about helping girls and women recognize their worth. Seems innocent enough, right? If only it were so simple. It's apparent that Christian mothers and girls today are at a crossroads. How can girls and women claim to advocate for "girl power" when the feminist movement in America is tied to so many activities and beliefs that directly oppose Christian values? Embracing the concepts behind "girl power" as a Christian must be impossible, you say? It doesn't have to be. Why? God's power.
"Girl power" on its own is a flawed movement. It places all its meaning in the human understanding of man and woman, embracing concepts of cultural feminism as the sole source of worth. But we know as Christians that humankind's purpose doesn't come from earthly sources — it's of God. Just as worth does not come from intelligence, appearance or wealth, it also doesn't come from the idea of feminine validation.
As you ponder the seemingly stark paradox that girls today are challenged with in embracing the cultural understandings of "girl power" while accepting to submit to an Almighty God, take pause. Is God's power in all things, even "girl power?" Yes. Together, girls and their trusted adult leaders can learn that embracing female empowerment doesn't necessarily need to live in a place of entitlement, but rather, in a light of grace from the Lord. Zechariah 4:6 says, "'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." Raising girls in an environment of strong faith and wide-spanning opportunity will grow them into confident women of integrity.
The full value and strength of a woman is only understood through the lens of Christ. As with any question, one can turn to His word for clarity and guidance toward understanding. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians: "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God," (Eph. 3:16-19).
"Girl power" comes not simply from gender or cultural validation, but through Christ's desire for all people in the Kingdom, and the immense responsibility that we, as Christians of either gender, must reflect such a profound love as His. A girl's mission in life not only includes the many accomplishments she's sure to achieve, but also the great joy in offering up her life's success in praise to God. What a calling!
One unique way to encourage girls to understand their own God-given power is in the great outdoors. The sense of empowerment that girls get through outdoor activities is overwhelming. High adventure activities teach girls that there are no limits on what they can achieve, despite the common and often misunderstood narrative of female meekness. It also teaches girls that their abilities come from somewhere, or more specifically some One, greater than themselves.
When girls immerse themselves in the earth that He created for us, the reality of His almighty power and calling for each human heart becomes clear. Involving girls wholly in nature and testing their skills with a variety of outdoor adventures that challenge and help them grow in confidence is important to building strong, competent young women. With the aid of such programming, God gifts girls with self-awareness and leadership qualities, allowing them to blossom in a healthy and encouraging environment.
When a girl is wholesomely fostered and encouraged in the light of Christ, she is truly unstoppable. She recognizes the great power she has through the gifting of the Holy Spirit and in praying over the plan God has for her. She has real "girl power" because really, it's deeper than that. It's God's power.
Patti Garibay is founder and executive director of American Heritage Girls, AHG, a national Christ-centered leadership and character development program. For more than two decades, AHG has been at the forefront of countering the culture by leading girls and women to creating lives of integrity. Patti is the author of Why Curse the Darkness When You Can Light A Candle?, a story of trust and obedience to inspire those who desire to make Kingdom impact yet struggle with the fear of inadequacy.