Posted by: atxanna | August 4, 2008

JEN– Side-splitting Voice of Our Generation

Jen Hatmaker

Jen Hatmaker

 

 

There is nothing “normal” or “average” about Jen.  To spend time around her, your sides would split from laughing, you’d learn more about her best friend, Jesus, and you’d honestly think to yourself, “geez, I want to be like her!”  Despite her fascinating character, she wasn’t born in a special people’s gene pool—given to pre-determined favor or celebrity and overflowing with superhuman wisdom.  She’s human, and (sorry, Jen) flawed, and simply a girl after God’s own heart.  Yet our God has given her a broad and unique ministry to women that is only of His making.  And my friend, Jen, shines as she lives it out.  

Jen is one of those people we all oooo and ahhhh over in the American Christian circles because she is a published author and Christian speaker.  She has personally influenced me at least 100 times over in her teachings about Jesus and the Bible.  I even teach a class based on her first book, “A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study”.  But she’s also influenced me at least 100 times over as a friend who I share life with.  I feel lucky to have had a front row seat to her life and am grateful to have seen first-hand the process of her going from “regular chick from Austin” to “author & speaker” because it reminds me that it’s not about her, but about Him.  You could hear some far off author or speaker tell you that their accomplishments were not by their own doing, but 99.9% of the time you’re an enamored fan and you don’t really believe them when they describe their “normal” roots.

Jen used to serve in the women’s ministry at the church where I first started walking with the Lord.  She would speak to the ladies at our annual women’s retreats and winter brunches.  She was our go to girl, because she just always had a good “word from the Lord” and because she was always good for a laugh at some point in her talk.  After a couple of years of doing that, Jen started a weekly Bible Study where her and her small group sat down to figure out how to study the Bible (using just a Bible and a blank journal—no pre-packaged studies) and ironically, that turned into her first book—a Bible study about how to study the Bible without using a Bible study (got it?!).  She wrote it first (clueless that it was not the norm to do so) and we set off together, with another friend from Austin, to a Christian Writer’s Conference to “pitch” ideas to the wide world of Christian Publishing.

Jen speaking at a women's event.

Jen speaking at a women's event.

We couldn’t have been more green (and young—not even in our thirties yet!).  But at the end of the day, Jen had not only one, but a handful, of publishers eager to offer her a contract for her first book.  God had prepared the way and He had big plans to use Jen.  That was 2004.  Fast forward a mere four years, where she celebrated the release of her sixth book (“Ms. Understood: Rebuilding the Feminine Equation”) and will speak at more than 22 women’s events across the country this calendar year alone!  Let me be clear.  Jen is not “cool” because she writes books and is a public speaker.  Jen amazes me because God has chosen to use her to teach and encourage His precious daughters how to open up His Word and get something out of it.  He’s used her to speak truth and inspiration into how we view ourselves as women (and how God views and values women).  He’s used her to remind and reveal to women how to tune our ears to hear our Maker.  And He’s used her to convince us to journey in faith together… women with women, looking to love, serve, and fear our Lord above all else. 

In her latest book, she even starts out the introduction with a little reminder of the warfare that wages against her in the process of being used in these crazy ways by God.  “(Here are the) mean voices in my head: You’re not old enough to write about this; You’re not a good enough writer; You’re hardly a model for superior femininity; Everyone else who addresses this subject is so much better than you; Everyone else who addresses this subject is more profound than you; Very definitely, you’re going to screw this up somehow—positively—count on it.” (Ms. Understood pg. 11-12)  But one truth she’s come to believe and trust about her God is: “Siding with God’s agenda (for your life) rarely makes conventional sense.  There are generally forty reasons on the con side and about two on the pro side, maybe one and half.  The obstacles look insurmountable.  Resistance is guaranteed.  The plan feels sketchy at best, if you even receive the whole plan.  The risks seemingly outweigh the benefits.  Oh, and failure appears imminent.  Yay, God!  Yet He knocks.”  (Ms. Understood pg. 87)  And she has continued to step out in obedience to His call on her life.

 

Jen with her three kids.
Jen with her three kids.

She’s a mom, a pastor’s wife, a writer, a friend, a goof, a talker, a church planter, a women’s teacher—a follower of Jesus.  God has chosen to give Jen a voice into the lives of women in our generation.  And He is tuning in hundreds of thousands of ears that are ready to hear His message of truth.  Jen doesn’t teach or write from her opinion… she searches Scripture and looks for what God says.  She doesn’t try to take any credit, she constantly points back to Jesus—it’s His words, His truth, His heart.  Which I believe is pleasing to our Father and no doubt a big part of His decision to use her to reach women.

Jen’s story is that of a young gal, overcoming what people expect from our generation. “…Young people are marginalized for being too idealistic, too naïve, too inexperienced, and too transient.  Age often disqualifies a girl—too young to be of real value or wisdom.  She has nothing to offer: better sit quiet and be a good girl. … High school is practically infancy; focus on college.  In college, build your resume and make contacts for your upcoming career.  Sandwich in graduate school to further prepare you for ‘later.’  Professionally, expect an entry-level position to guarantee future promotions. In fact, this company is just a front door for that next one.  In the meantime, you’re not ready for a relationship.  You’re not ready for leadership.  You’re not ready for a vision.  The whole process enforces this message: Not yet… someday.  God constantly blows the doors off our stereotypes, whether history, pedigree, geography, nationality, or age.  No one is more unconventional than God.  (Ms. Understood, pg. 167-168 )  But here’s Jen’s message to herself and all you out there: “Young woman, God is not waiting for you to grow up before He’ll take you seriously.  On His calendar, there is no such thing as ‘Not yet… someday.’  That’s nothing but wasted time.” (Ms. Understood, pg. 170)  Let Jen be an inspiration to you all—if God is calling you to a task, no matter how unusual or God-sized, HE is behind it.  Luke 1:45 says, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Just to leave you with some shameless plugging for my friend… If you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend starting at the beginning—“A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study” will change the way you interact with and learn from Scripture forever!  And if you are looking for a Biblical look into how God loves and uses women, you’ve got to read her latest book— my copy of “Ms. Understood” is about 80% highlighted and has proven to be a valuable lesson for me to know and believe God has big plans for the women of our day!  Lastly, if you are looking for a hilarious and Scripture-inspired speaker for your next Christian women’s event, check out her website for information—http://www.jenhatmaker.com.  And just to add icing on top of the cake, her and her husband, Brandon, have started a new church plant here in Austin this year… check it out—http://www.austinnewchurch.com.

 

 

 

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