Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Serving Has No Glass Ceiling

As I get ready to attend the 2016 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit tomorrow, I'm reminded of Bill Hybels' opening talk at last year's Summit.  He spoke about grit and used "The Little Engine That Could" as a model for persevering.  I loved reading that book to my girls when they were young, and I was so taken by Bill's reference that we based our next Operation Christmas Child team meeting on the idea of "getting the toys (and good food) over the mountain to the good girls and boys on the other side."

Well, I got a new revelation about this story yesterday.  A co-volunteer at the clothing pantry where I volunteer on Tuesdays brought in the book.  She read it and pointed out that both the small engine who needed help at the beginning of the book AND the little blue engine who finally comes to the rescue in the end are both referred to as 'she' while all the engines who refused to help are referred to as 'he'.  Interesting.

The earliest version, written by Rev. Charles S. Wing from Brooklyn and published in the New York Tribune in 1906 is more abbreviated and doesn't have these gender differences, but Watty Piper's classic 1930 story book edition of the story does.

Some Internet research (gotta love Google) reveals there have been conflicting interpretations of the gender identifications and the meanings of such in the various versions of this story.

Personally, I think it just proves there is no glass ceiling when it comes to service.  Jesus was followed by a group of women and women have been the ones getting much of the work done throughout the church age.

I love the image of that little blue female engine who is unsure about whether she can pull the train but is willing to try.  And not only willing to try but WILLING herself to keep pulling even when it seems impossible.

Our Operation Christmas Child conferences and events are becoming increasingly diverse with more men and youth reflecting the makeup of our teams around the country.  However, many of those volunteer team positions around the country are still filled by women who serve like the little blue engine--sometimes with trepidation but with a Spirit-infused will that says not, "I think I can," but "I KNOW He can."

No glass ceiling here.

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