We need to talk about something important. Well, someone rather.
It’s Jen Hatmaker
Most of you are nodding by now, fully aware of why we need to discuss JenHat. If not, I’ll try and catch you up to speed:
-She’s the sweetheart of today’s evangelical church. (Think, what Julia Roberts is to the film industry.)
-She is an author/speaker/adoption advocate who has won the collective Church’s heart with her quick wit, sound biblical teaching and down-to-earth voice.
-A few weeks ago, Religion News Service published an article in which Jen voiced her support of LGBT relationships.
-Almost immediately after, LifeWay Christian Resources (the publisher of Jen’s most recent New York Times best selling book) halted the production and selling of Hatmaker’s resources.
-The internet exploded, in the way it typically does, with exuberant opinions regarding Jen’s interview.
Since that day, I've been asked many times, "Hey, what do you think about the Jen Hatmaker thing?"
And, I have some thoughts on that. But, more importantly, I'd like to tell you who Jen Hatmaker is in my life. Because, I believe everything is defined in the context of relationship.
I was first introduced to her several years ago when we began the adoption process. Like I do when I find an author I like, I quickly binge-read her entire blog. I Amazon Prime'd her book Seven and followed her on all social media. I doubt I'm alone when I say I was an immediate convert and dedicated fan.
By the time she published For the Love (this past summer) she had become an influential voice in my life. I've seen her speak multiple times and sometimes she calls me just to say hi. (Ok. I lied about that last part.)
I consider Jen both a mentor and spiritual authority.
I think it's important to know what role someone plays in our life.
I have several mentors. Some of them I know personally, like my friend Rita from church. Others guide me only by their example or written word. Here's the way I pick a mentor-- I choose someone a little (or a lot) further down the path I'm on, doing what I want to be doing when I reach that age or stage in life. And I glean as much as I can from their wisdom and life experience.
I give the title "spiritual authority" to leaders and teachers in my faith. I have chosen to receive instruction from like-minded individuals who inspire my love of Jesus and consistently increase my knowledge of the kingdom of God.
Jen Hatmaker has challenged my thinking, stretched my heart and inspired my life in countless ways.
"Ok, me too, but what about the things she said?! What if I don't agree? What if my church doesn't agree?" (👈🏼 examples of questions people have asked me in response.)
Here's the thing- who said we have to agree with someone on every single issue for them to speak into our life?
When I'm deciding whether or not someone is a good fit for Christian leadership in my life, sure, I look for a similar belief system. But I am equally (if not more) concerned with how they got there. I want to know the heart behind the belief system. I want to see how someone interacts with Jesus on a personal level, how they handle the Bible and how they treat the people in their life. I am looking for a leader who is changed by the gospel and actively encouraging others to do the same. (By the way, if you haven't read how Jen arrived at her beliefs, you should.)
Do you want to know what I'm not looking for when choosing a leader or teacher? I'm not looking for someone to be the final say. On any issue. Ultimately, it's up to me to read God's word and seek Him for wisdom. If I rely on someone else to create my spiritual ideology for me, I'm missing out on one of the greatest gifts of being a believer. God wants us to hear for ourselves what he thinks about the scriptures. And I am supremely confident in his ability to do just that. Teachers and leaders are human vessels God uses to come alongside us and reinforce what He's already told us though his spirit and his word.
So, what do I think about Jen Hatmaker?
I think she's incredible. Her role in my life isn't to define my beliefs about same sex marriage.
She is more than just a single stance on an isolated issue. I trust her walk with the Lord and I honor the work she has done for the kingdom thus far. She is a woman after the heart of God and I can't wait to see what's next for her.