From the time I was a little girl I have always enjoyed shopping and dressing up. My parents teased me when I was younger that I never met a mirror I didn’t love. I would spend hours dressing up in my mom’s fancy slips and twirling around the house. I remember feeling so special when my dad would comment on beautiful I looked in my creative (and somewhat crazy and mismatched) ensembles. Now, 30+ years later, my little girls are doing the same thing. My 4-year-old seems to go through a wardrobe change approximately once an hour. She emerges from her bedroom with a huge smile, just waiting for me to tell her how gorgeous she is. I love it.
According to forbes.com, the U.S. apparel industry is a $12 billion business and the average American family spends approximately $1,700 on clothes annually. They also note that in 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. Today, that number has increased to 30 outfits - one for every day of the month.
Wow! Clearly, my little Laci and I are not alone in our love for fashion.
As women in leadership, we are faced with some tough questions today about this topic:
Can I be in a position of leadership and still be fashionable?
What does the Bible say about my skinny jeans?
Don’t I deserve to be able to “express myself” however I want with regards to fashion?
What about modesty? What does that even mean in 2017?
I definitely do not pretend to have all the answers to these questions. I make plenty of mistakes in this area and this is an issue I am still trying to work through personally, but I think, as women in leadership, it’s good for us to begin this dialogue.
You don’t have to scroll through your Instagram feed for very long before you begin to see pictures of high profile leaders in bikinis and mini skirts. In our celebrity pastor culture, we often hear more about what or “who” people are wearing, rather than how many people are being reached with the Gospel. In an effort to be relevant, popular, and culturally connected, is there a chance we are sacrificing our integrity and call for holiness?
...is there a chance we are sacrificing our integrity and call for holiness?
Truthfully, the Bible doesn’t speak much to the topic of fashion. 2 Timothy 2:19 instructs women to “be modest in their appearance” and “not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.” The call for modesty is really a fruit of our faith, not a set of legalistic fashion rules. Modesty is not about flaunting wealth, seeking selfish attention, or diminishing others. It is an attitude of our hearts.
But I do think there is much we can learn from scripture in regards to the heart behind why we dress the way we do. I love this quote from Pastor Maury Davis (Cornerstone, Nashville), “Modesty is not what you put on or defined by culture. It’s a spirit. It’s the reason why you dressed that way.”
So maybe the questions we should really be asking ourselves are…
Am I searching for attention or admiration that I should be finding in my relationship with Jesus?
Is what I am wearing reflecting my worth - that I am a daughter of the King, loved, valuable, and priceless?
Does what I am wearing distract people from the message I am called to carry? Is my outfit or my body speaking louder than my words?
Does what I am wearing put a barrier between the people I am called to serve and myself?
Am I placing too much emphasis on my appearance and neglecting my internal condition?
Is my choice to wear this going to cost me leadership capital? Will I lose respect of those I am called to serve?
If it is true that 'a leader's followers will do in excess that which is modeled in moderation', what am I training those under my leadership to do?
At the end of the day, I believe God is much more concerned with our hearts than He is with our hemlines. But do our hemlines reflect an issue within our hearts? That requires a pretty honest look in the mirror.
I love this verse from Colossians 3:14:
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”
So, as we stumble through this life of leadership together, may we speak with love, walk with grace, and live as those who are dearly loved.
"A BETTER YOU: Mirrors, Modesty, Ministry?" is ENTRY THREE of Sanctuary's January blog series, A Better You. Need to catch up? Read ENTRY ONE, The Other Side of a Better Choice. Then, join us next Monday for ENTRY FOUR.
Kelli serves alongside her husband, Benny, as Executive Pastors at LifePoint Church in Clarksville, TN. They have been married and serving together in ministry for 14 years. They have four children: Elaina, Malia, Benny, and Laci. She is passionate about mentoring women and leading them to discover God's great love and purpose for their lives. Kelli enjoys reading, sharing coffee with friends, and party planning. To learn more about her upcoming women's conference in Tennessee, visit www.Flourishwomensconference.com