5 verbs each for equality

blog 5 verbsverb [vurb]a word that expresses action or a state of being.

i have been traveling in the UK with my daughter for the past week and just returned (amazing trip, extremely grateful).  i was so happy to see rachel held evans’ blog series this week on mutuality.  she rocks, and i have great hope that her influence will continue to shape change for the wider church. so many others contributed pieces, too, and i look forward to reading more this upcoming week– inspiring!  i am not going to use this blog post to rehash what’s already been shared related to theology and scriptural interpretation on behalf of equality. she’s done an awesome job with that.

my small contribution to the conversation is to just sing the same song i always sing--the one centered on practice.

on action.

on ways we can actively be the change we want to see.

i often draw back on what community organizer alexie torres-flemings says, “the kingdom is not going to drop out of the sky”.  yep, God uses scared, flawed, messy, beautiful human beings like us to create it.

talking about equality won’t create equality. reading blogs about equality won’t create it. these definitely help raise awareness & stir hearts and heads that need stirring.  talking & reading about it is an awesome starting place.

but the only way we can create and cultivate equality is to actively engage in living it out as best we can. to put our hands & feet & hearts into action as men & women dedicated to change. to enter in to new relationships & new forms of leadership & new ways of being together, side-by-side as lovers & leaders & friends.

although there are many more possibilities, here are a few verbs that come to mind as we collaborate together as men & women to cultivate greater and greater equality, here, now.

5 actions for men:

1. “advocate” – i love the Greek word for this–parakletos–because it is used to describe the holy spirit and means “summoned, called to one’s side or aid”.  advocating for equality means coming alongside and using voices & power & influence on behalf of change, supporting women in all kinds of ways, and calling out injustices instead of remaining silent.

2. “invite” – ask and ask some more. invite your wives & sisters & daughters to show up more fully to dreams, to  friendship, to leadership, to heart-to-heart conversations, to partnerships, to life.

3. “risk” – actively risk your pride, power & control, reputations, comfort on behalf of change. these are all things Jesus tells us are worth losing as we follow him. put them on the line and trust God will show the way.

4. “submit” –  listen deeply to each other and respond humbly. let go of winning or being “right”. defer to wisdom and giftedness tempered by humiity. lead and follow.

5. “encourage” – draw out your wives’ & sisters’ & daughters’ gifts and passions and give them love & tangible support to try what needs trying. celebrate what’s good, honor courage, affirm.

and 5 verbs for women, too:

1. “initiate” –  offer to lead, speak, create, participate, care.  step up, step in. play our cards instead of holding them close. try.  (we may feel shame at first but in time, it will lose some of it’s grip).

2. “engage” – say what needs to be said. show up in healthy conflict instead of running from it.  give our ideas. stand up straight and look others in the eye. bring as much of our real selves to our relationships as we can.

3. “risk” – disapproval, failure, making others uncomfortable. being misunderstood–these are all things we will risk as we step out. Jesus tells us these are part of the cost of following him. put them on the line and trust God will show the way.

4. “submit” – listen deeply to each other and respond humbly. let go of winning or being “right”. defer to wisdom and giftedness tempered by humility. lead and follow.

5. “celebrate” – honor every little bit of movement, freedom, and victory we can–our own growth & the growth of others. stand alongside other brave sisters and cheer them on with love, respect, and ongoing support. express gratitude for our husbands & brothers & sons and the changes we see.

i am thankful for you guys out here who are already advocating, inviting, risking, submitting, and encouraging equality.  you are making a difference!  may your presence continue to blossom & grow.

and i am also grateful for all the brave women who i know & see initiating, engaging, risking, submitting, and celebrating.  your courage inspires me & those around you to keep trying to do the same.

those are my 5 verbs each.  what would you add?  i’m guessing you all have some good ones!

if I were fleshing out a few more for both i’d consider “include, support, nurture, create” and the one that really embodies them all–“practice.” the only way to learn something new is to practice it. and practice it. and practice it some more.

God, give us courage & strength to live out these verbs, to be active participants in cultivating equality in any ways we can.   please help us to keep bravely practicing together.

* * * * *

ps: if you haven’t read my friend karl’s post yet–show some ovaries-do!  it’s so good & definitely complements last week’s ex-good-christian-women post from a different perspective.  also, this month’s down we go column is up at sheloves magazine–celebrating freedom.  may we celebrate every little bit of freedom we can!

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


    • thanks for reading and taking time to comment, rachael. it’s always lovely!

  • I agree that action and practice will make all the difference. My mom is a great example. All of her life she followed the example of the men in her life. She was very submissive. Lately, as she navigates widowhood, I have seen her become more assertive and as a consequence, more content. No one truly enjoys being controlled or considered less than. My mom is having a renaissance in her late 70s as she learns to submit to Jesus, but stand up for herself, too.

    • that’s a fun story. i always say better 20 than 30 years old, 30 than 40, 40 than 50, 50 than 60, 60 than 70, 70 than 80….to make changes. it’s never too late.

  • There are so many I would add to the guy’s list. One is “listen” … or as I usually put it, “show up and shut up.” Don’t stand and preach. Sit and listen. In my experience, women are much better at that than men.

    I would also add “empathize” which is maybe a step beyond “submit” and “risk”.

    There is one other, but I can’t come up with a single verb for it, and maybe it falls under “en-courage”. It concerns not taking ownership of someone else’s struggle by trying to solve it for them. Instead, give them the courage to seek and discover a solution on their own. We guys tend to want to be Mr. Fixit and come out the leader, the hero of the story … when the real leader and hero should be the Holy Spirit.


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