Share This Episode
Family Life Today Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine Logo

How a Woman Thrives: Jen Wilkin

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 10, 2023 5:15 am

How a Woman Thrives: Jen Wilkin

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1109 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

May 10, 2023 5:15 am

Are we making too much of the differences between men and women? Author Jen Wilkin knows how a woman thrives — and how to sidestep common marriage-role snags.

Show Notes and Resources

Learn more about Jen's devotionals on her website:

You can follow Jen on instagram: @jenwilkin

Find resources from this podcast at

Find more content and resources on the FamilyLife's app!

Help others find FamilyLife. Leave a review on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Check out all the FamilyLife podcasts on the FamilyLife Podcast Network


The breakdown in any relationship is when we enter into anger and contempt towards someone and you do that when you see someone as other, not when you see someone as same. So the more that we allow ourselves to focus on men and women being different, we should not be surprised when we see unhealth in those relationships. We have to remember that we share more in common than we are divided by. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. One of the struggles that I know Ann and I brought into our marriage early was this leadership authority of me and this submission following of Ann because she's a strong woman. And, you know, as we were trying to understand our roles as a young couple, 41 years ago and now 41 years in, it still isn't an easy tightrope that you walk in terms of what's it mean for a man to be the husband and maybe the spiritual leader?

What's that look like? What's it mean for a wife? Well, the first time I went to a weekend to remember marriage getaway, I was a new Christian, new believer. I had never grown up in the church. And I had an opinion and a view of what women were probably like, and it was unfounded.

I really just had no idea. But I can remember sitting back with my arms crossed thinking, oh, these are the people that probably don't want me to use my gifts to not be a leader because I felt like I was a leader and I was strong and had strong views and opinions. And I thought as a woman, does that mean I have to just shelf all of those? Does that mean like I just have to bow before men? Oh, yes, you're right. I really didn't know.

Did you ever have that struggle? Well, I was just going to say, we've got Jen Wilkin here. She's going to answer all these questions for us.

All these questions. You're going to give us the wisdom of God. No, you are a Bible scholar teacher. And so as you think about your own marriage. And you're strong as well. I think you're a strong leader as well.

How do you approach this topic? I think one of the mistakes that we've made too often in these conversations in Christian circles is to oversimplify the way that husbands are or wives are because marriage is between two individuals. Even if you are to hold the position that the husband is the leader, we're going to apply leadership language to his role. One of the things my husband has always reflected on is he's like, but even when that's said, it's like, but the leader is the one who has all the strengths.

And then the followers are all the weak people. And the idea that a leader might have weaknesses, that they're looking for someone who has a strength in to offset their weaknesses. He's like, you know, in a business setting, I see this all the time. If I were the CEO of a company and I don't know anything about finance or HR, I'm not going to get better at that and hire a bunch of people who are worse at it than I am.

I'm going to find someone who's really great at those things and I'm going to get them on my team and then I'm going to do everything I can to put wind in their sails. So if you talk about leadership, that would be a healthy way to think about it. I've even heard people say like, oh, well, if he's going to be the spiritual leader, then he needs a woman who, you know, if she's more spiritually further along than he is, then he shouldn't date her or marry her because how can he lead her? And I'm like, okay, you just said that a woman who is growing in sanctification will sabotage her marriage relationship.

Like that doesn't make any sense whatsoever. And if your model of leadership is greater than over less than, then it means that you are setting people up for a lot of weirdness in marriage. So like, which is, for example, in my marriage, I'm the Bible teacher. That's not Jeff. Jeff is, he's always done children's ministry.

There are things that he's really great at. But when we would do Family Devo, he was like, hey, Jen, lead us through something that, you know, and that doesn't mean he is sabotaged. It means that we're working as partners. And you didn't think, wow, you're not being the spiritual leader here.

No. And I mean, if I had a nickel for the number of times a wife has said to me, he's not leading in the home. And I'm like, but what do you mean that he's not leading in the home? Like, what is your checklist?

Is it that he's not having hymn song with everyone in the morning before you go off to school? Is there a checklist for a man being a leader? I would just say this, in many ways, if he was doing that, like you said, in the corporate world, he would be applauded. Good leadership. You're not good at this.

You found somebody that's good at this. You've given them authority and you've given them a platform and said, lead this part of the meeting. You're saying he did that with you because you're a Bible teacher.

Way to go. Rather than he's not leading, he's actually leading very strongly. Is that what you're saying? Well, that's looking for a way for everyone to thrive. And I think that that's something that we've been missing sometimes in Christian circles. If my strength as a woman threatens your strength as a man, instead of you seeing me as an ally, you see me as an adversary, that's actually Genesis 3. You see me as an adversary instead of as an ally.

Let's get to Genesis 2 where you say, at last, bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. And so I do think in conservative circles, we have placed such an emphasis on the distinctions between men and women. Meaning the roles? Well, in many cases, the roles.

Yes, he does this and she does that. You know, and nary the twain shall meet or you're unbiblical. And that's another thing is the way we use the term biblical or unbiblical attached to this.

These are wisdom issues. And wisdom in this Bible as a category is applied situationally according to the people who are involved in the relationship. So, for example, if you think about in the book of Proverbs where it says, answer not a fool according to his folly. And then the next verse says, answer a fool according to his folly. Like, they're not contradicting each other.

It depends on which fool you're talking to, how you respond. And so when you think about marriages, it depends on which marriage you're looking at, how you would respond to whether someone is handling their role in the marriage in a right way or a wrong way. So, how do we understand that the husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church? I read something earlier today that said anyone who's drawn to the idea of headship because it means power is probably a narcissist. Where did you read that today?

I don't know. It was on the internet where everything is true and wonderful. And I think that's something that we should be concerned about. If we have so emphasized the idea of headship as he's in charge, he's the boss of the boss, then it's no wonder that you have women who are afraid. Well, and I think that's why I sat in that conference with my arms crossed because I thought he will rule over me and be more powerful, and that scared me. And yet, I'd love to hear from both of you because you had to, we've had to figure that out. Because in some ways, Jen, what you just said, I realized, probably at first I didn't realize it because I was too prideful to open my eyes and see, but as I hopefully matured and stepped back and looked at Anne, I realized she's a better leader than I am. She's gifted as a leader, and I'm a good leader.

I was a quarterback, and you get in a huddle and you lead, but I was not a great leader. She was a great leader, so I was like, so I should not let her ever lead because she's female and I'm male. So I had to wrestle like, okay, what does that look like where I am being what God wants me to be as a man and as a husband and as a dad, but I'm also allowing her to thrive. I'm guessing that's something you both have had to navigate in your own marriages and in your ministry. So I don't know, I'm just throwing it out to say, talk about that. Has that been something you've had to wrestle as well?

Yeah, I married a guy who sees my strengths as something to celebrate. It's funny though, the whole helper thing, there's a passage that mirrors that one in Exodus that kind of slips past us. So the people who will say that this is what you're seeing as the woman is the helper that set up for you in Genesis chapter 2, I'm like, but what about Exodus chapter 18 where Moses is trying to rule all of Israel by himself, and you hear very similar language. His father-in-law Jethro comes along and he says, this is not good, right?

It's one of those shocking not good statements like you heard in Genesis chapter 2. And then what does he say? He says, you need helpers, but the helpers aren't women. They're men who are going to come and help him run.

And so I do think we have to be really careful about overemphasizing something that might be a note in the symphony, but not a major theme. Well, it's interesting, Jen, when we first started speaking for the Weekend to Remember marriage conferences, we were teaching that scripture. And as I was looking at the word helper, my first instinct was, why does he get a helper? Where's my helper?

I'm doing all this stuff. Where's my helper? And then I turn around like, where's my helper, God? That doesn't seem fair. And so naively, I think I was 29, I thought, well, I'll just look up the dictionary.

I'm just going to see, because I had an idea where it was going to go. And it said, a helper is the person who does the dirty work. Someone important tells them what to do. I'm like, well, that's it. And that's, I think when we hear that word helper, that's why women, like we get bristly.

Is that all I am? I mean, when you see that God was referred to as the helper of the Israelites and the Holy Spirit, like it's, it's a word of strength. It's a word that's so beautiful that as our connect go. The thing that I was thinking, Dave, when you were asking Jen, is one of the things that happened, you're going to hate that I bring this up, but we were in a prayer circle and I might have been one of maybe two women and there were mostly men. And I just thought, well, are we going to pray? You know, let's pray. And so I said, hey, I'll pray.

Let me start us by praying. So I did. And do you remember this? I do not remember this.

Which is probably good. But you say you came home that night. I forget where we were. How many years married? I think we had just first, we were first going to start our church.

So probably like 9, 10. And you said, hey, you know, could you not initiate prayer? Could you kind of just let me at least?

Because I'm always jumping out ahead of you, which I probably should have just been aware of that. But I remember I was crushed. Did I even, did we get in a fight about it? I might have just held onto it. When I hear that now, I'm thinking I was so insecure. I was intimidated by her leadership gift.

Again, it was better than mine. She had instincts that were right. And I should have celebrated that. You know, it's like there's this power dynamic and I was like, oh, I'm supposed to be this and I'm not being this and she's being that.

You know, I think it's a, it leads to a good question is like, how do we tilt it in a way that the power dynamic is rightly lived out? Does that make sense? Because I was like, I shouldn't have said that to her. I should have celebrated. Way to go. What a great thing that you took the initiative to pray at that moment because that's what needed to be happening rather than, hey, don't do that. It makes me look bad.

I mean, that's terrible. Well, I do think it goes back to this question of whether headship and submission is the primary way we should be thinking about the marriage relationship. When you think about the way that Jesus talks about the church, his family, his mother and brothers come to him in the gospels, and someone comes in and tells him that they're outside and he says, who are my brother and my sisters and my mother? It's anyone who does the will of the father. He redefines family along spiritual terms, but he also is saying something that's fundamentally true in human relationships.

Marriage is not eternal, from what we can tell, from the way the scriptures talk about it, but siblinghood is. We will always be brothers and sisters, but I think that what can often happen is we get into the marriage relationship, marriage and family relationships, so mother, father, and children, and those can be the relationships in which we feel the most willing to exercise from a position of contempt. These people who are my neighbors who live under my roof are the ones who I think about last when I think about loving my neighbor as I love myself.

They're the ones who I can push on the hardest or neglect the most because they have to love me because they're in the home with me. When you see something that's out of balance in a husband-wife relationship, it's usually not because they got the roles of husband and wife messed up. It's because they forgot that they're brothers and sisters. In a sibling relationship, there's not a power dynamic at play.

You're not thinking about power. You're thinking about mutual care for one another. If we operated in our marriages, whether husband or wife, just under that general rule of do one another and showing honor, then we wouldn't have to ask questions. Does that happen? Is that what it looks like for you and your husband? Oh, every day all we do is say, how can I lay down my rights for you?

How can I do that today? No, obviously everyone has selfishness that lives inside of them still, but we think the enemy has to do with who's doing what. But it has to do with who needs what from what they're doing.

I could be giving the appearance of having my quiet and gentle spirit for the purpose of manipulating you, right? And so I just think so often we're saying, well, she's doing this or she's not doing that or he's doing this and he's not doing that. And I'm like, well, right, but both of them are selfish.

Let's deal with the heart issue first. I just don't know that 20 or 30 years ago or 50 or 70 years ago, everyone was super worried about whether everyone was staying in their lane the way that we seem to be now. I was just going to ask you, why do you think that is now? I do actually think it's just because we look around at what's going on in the culture and we're like, oh, not on my watch. You know, if the culture is talking about men and women being interchangeable, then I'm going to double down and say that men and women have nothing in common. And therefore in marriage, they should not function in any way in the same capacity. But we forget what the Bible's first emphasis is. The Bible does not say men are from Mars, women are from Venus. That's actually a book that was written for a secular audience. The Bible says something distinctly different from that. The Bible says that both men and women were created in the same garden by the same creator, tasked with the same purpose, to co-labor with one another, to rule and subdue and to have dominion and to be fruitful and to multiply. And that when Adam sees Eve, his first response to her is not, she's completely different than I am. It's she is like me. And he sings a hymn about how she is like him.

She is created according to his kind. The breakdown in any relationship is when we enter into anger and contempt towards someone. And you do that when you see someone as other, not when you see someone as same.

Like you think about C.S. Lewis's famous words about friendship. He says friendship begins when one person looks at another and says, you too, I thought it was only me. So the more that we allow ourselves to focus on men and women being different, we should not be surprised when we see unhealth in those relationships.

Because the more I see you as different from me, the more I will objectify you and the more I will want to push you away or push you down. We have to remember that we share more in common than we are divided by. So perfect example would be, do I have more in common with Dave or with a female cat? Obviously, I have more in common with Dave than I do with a female cat. My femaleness is not my fundamental defining characteristic.

My humaneness is. And so brothers and sisters remember to see each other first as people before they see each other as any other category after that. So you've raised both boys and girls, men and women. Any distinctives as you have raised them and kind of felt like, hmm, have you done any equipping for them as a husband or a wife? Is that different?

Is it the same? Well, I hope what they've seen a lot has just been that Jeff and I really like each other. I mean, we are friends as much as we are romantic.

We just really like each other. And so I hope that they have seen that because I think it does lead you to just a lot of mutual respect in the relationships that you form with others. But we also encourage them as they were growing up to have real friendships with both men and women, with both boys and girls.

And I do think this is something that has gotten lost a lot of times in the way that we're talking to men and women today. It's your only friend of the opposite sex can be your wife. Or your only friend of the opposite sex can be your husband.

It's just too dangerous. But teaching our children that all friendship is based on risk and reward. So you test a trust barrier. And if it's a safe trust barrier, then you move deeper into friendship with a girl that you're friends with, one of my daughters. You know, if she ends up being manipulative or says something that's off, then you back away. You realize that's maybe not a trustworthy friendship. But I mean, in terms of marriage, have you had a conversation, and would you, of, Son, this is what it looks like to be the husband of your wife or to lead her.

Or, Honey, as your daughter, as my daughter, this is what a good wife will look like. Well, yeah. So we talk about it in terms of, hey, do you really like this person? I think it's Ben Stewart who says most of marriage is just hanging out. So can you hang out with this person? And then there's a question of, you know, if he says, hey, this is what I really think is the way things should go, how are you going to respond to that?

You know, they've seen us have robust dialogue. It's not Jeff going into a room and making a decision and announcing it to the family, right? Yeah, it's not like that's leading spiritually.

Yeah. And I think it's a question of, is the person who's the leader the one who sits in the highest place or the one who sits in the lowest place? And the way that you view that, you know, if you see it as a privilege instead of as an obligation, then that's going to shape the way that your home plays out. And so asking daughters and sons to think about what does it mean to lead? Most good leaders that I know, they didn't want to step into that role.

They did it because it had to be done and they knew that they could do it. And so what we often communicate is, you know, leaders, leaders get all the perks and everybody else gets what's left. And so we have coached the kids a lot around what that does and does not mean. But every organization needs a person to be in charge. If there's not a clear leader, then the organization is not going to go well.

But how you understand that, I always want to be really, really careful in the way that we talk about it because it's been, I would say it's been a misused idea. I love our producer, Jim. He always says, a great leader is the first to, the first to serve, the first to care for.

I thought those were really good. Do you agree with that? Well, I do. But I think that if the implication is that that's what the husband does and not what the wife does, then I don't agree. Because there are areas where I lead in something first and everyone's called to lay down their life. Have you ever prayed first? Well, you had to bring that up again. That should never happen. You should always be the man.

It's somewhere in Scripture. No, you know, as I listen to you, Jen, I do think, though, you are a woman that's thriving. Am I right? I feel like it. You seem like it. Not only in ministry, but I can sense in your home.

I don't know your home. I've never met Jeff. Jeff is great. What would you say Jeff does or what is it about the way he is as your husband that allows you to thrive as a woman?

Because I think we men could probably learn. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Jen Wilkin on Family Life Today. I want to hear what Jeff does in the Wilkin home that helps Jen thrive as a woman. And we're going to hear that in just a second. But first, as I look around in our culture today, I come face to face pretty regularly with the fact that now more than ever, hope is needed in marriages and families. And that reminds me of a verse I read just a couple of days ago. It was Proverbs 21 31. And it says this, The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. What in the world does that have to do with this month?

Well, it's basically this. God wants to involve us in getting ready, getting the horse ready, doing our part, doing the things that He is working at in the world. But ultimately, the victory belongs to the Lord. The battle belongs to Him.

We're not the ones who determine whether or not the victory happens, but God wants to involve us in the process by, quote unquote, getting the horse ready. Well, I know that you are probably a person who wants to give hope to someone who might feel hopeless today. And the cool thing is, is this month we are looking for 350 new partners to join Family Life as a donor. With your support during our matching campaign all this month, any gift that you give will be matched dollar for dollar for the next 12 months. So that means if you make a $25 donation each month, it actually becomes a $50 a month donation. And if you make a $100 donation, it becomes a $200 a month donation. And the cool thing is, as a Family Life partner, you get to receive a ton of different benefits that you wouldn't ordinarily get, including a gift card to attend a Weekend to Remember event.

That's amazing. Live Family Life events online with some of our talented authors and radio hosts, and then access to our brand new curated content library of resources for some of life's most important issues. As a Family Life partner, you equip marriages, parents, and families to impact our culture for Christ. And I think that's really the greatest benefit that you have as someone who partners with us. So if you'd like to become a partner and have your gift match dollar for dollar for the next 12 months, you can go online to, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, the number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. You can also drop us something in the mail. Our address is Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. All right, I want to hear what Jeff does in the Wilkin home that helps Jen thrive.

Here's Jen Wilkin. He saw what in me was often characterized in Christian circles as being too much. He saw it as something he wanted to see grow. What do you mean too much? Oh, every woman knows what that word means.

Well, that's what I'm asking. Help us men understand too much. Yeah, I have opinions. I enjoy friendship with both men and women. This is something that, you know, I'm circling back to because I think that it matters. I have some really good male friends.

Jeff knows them. It's not like I'm, you know, hanging out, having coffee alone with some dude across town or anything. But I have genuine good friendships with other men. He has genuine good friendships with other women.

He did not try to make me fit into a mold. He said, the Lord has given you a particular set of gifts. Another good example would be a question I'm often asked in interviews is, well, how do you balance, you know, doing the Bible study stuff and being a mom?

And he cracks up at that. He's like, no one has ever asked me how I balance, you know, being the dad and going to work every day. And it's this idea that there's no such thing as dual calling for a woman. That anything she does that's in addition to her work with her children is stealing from her children, right, or stealing from her family's wellbeing. And that's just never been his view.

He's like, my children got the mom who's also a Bible teacher. And so it must be good for us to find a way to make that work in the same way that it's good for us to find a way for him to be doing his job or good for us to find a way for a child to explore a particular gift or talent. Every decision we make regarding calendar does have an impact on our family. It does have a cost.

The question is whether the cost is worth bearing. And Jeff was really good at saying, yeah, that's worth the cost and not saying, I don't know, you're stealing. Yeah.

Dave, I would say you're really good at that too. I wasn't throwing it out to get the raise. No, I know you weren't.

Hey, take it. I totally know that you're not. But I mean, I made that comment about you being frustrated with me praying first. You don't do that anymore. Well, I mean, I had to grow up.

But I feel like I thrive because you celebrate who I am. Now, coming up tomorrow, David and Wilson are going to be joined in the studio once again with Nana Dulce talking about the seed of the woman as she traces the gospel storyline through the narratives of women all throughout the Bible. That's tomorrow. You don't want to miss it. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-12 03:55:34 / 2023-05-12 04:07:07 / 12

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime