Be a Daniel, not an Esther.” With papercut precision, the church elder’s words sliced to my core. “Unlike Daniel,” he explained, “Esther discredited herself because she hid her faith.” The elder’s criticism of Esther stung with familiarity. Indeed, Esther—the young girl ripped from her home and forced into a king’s harem—exemplified courageous faith despite a huge power differential. Relying on prayer, Esther used her wits and death-defying actions to save the Israelite nation from impending slaughter. But, according to this elder, Esther isn't to be imitated.
At a local café over eggs sunny-side-up and buttery French toast, my dad raised the topic of generational sin. He shared his sorrow over the family wreckage wrought by his anger.
“Dad, I know of another generational sin in our family,” I said.
His eyes widened at my reply.
Lifting my hands in the air with one hand directly above the other, I said, “You value your son over your daughters.”
Rarely do I catch my dad speechless. His cheeks puffed out in a sheepish grin as he responded with, “Well, what’s wrong with that?”
I shifted my focus to the powdered sugar dotting my French toast. Over the years, I’ve wondered if God, too, valued me as “less than.”
But scripture reveals that God designed his daughters, not just his sons, to reflect his goodness and to share his story. To those who serve, he confers the responsibility to equip and encourage his people. The church consists of many parts forming one body. When one part suffers, the other parts suffer too. According to Barna research, nearly half of churched women feel a relational disconnect with the church. Many women feel undervalued within their worship assemblies. So how do we, the church, reclaim our daughters’ worth? Four women’s encounters with the living God point the way.
A Daughter’s Worth in the Garden
In the garden of Eden, God created the original daughter in his image. Eve walked with God. He conferred his favor on her. God designed Eve to serve alongside his son, Adam, by commissioning her as co-ruler over creation. Mirroring mutuality, Eve and all God’s daughters, receive the same inheritance as his sons.
Eve is described twice in the Bible as an ezer, meaning “strong helper.” Sixteen times scripture uses military language—shield, sword, deliverer, helper—to describe God as the people’s ezer. And similarly, Eve functioned with inherent strength as Adam’s ezer. Eternally inscribed dog-tags bearing the words, “made in God’s image,” reveal a daughter’s worth.
My church taught that only men lead. So for a long time I questioned why God crafted me with visionary and organizational leadership gifts—me, a woman. Why do I find such enjoyment serving in ministry? Should I turn away invitations to exercise influence? The truth I gleaned from the garden reveals that God designs with intention, not error. He calls to leadership whom he chooses—male and female. When invited, I now reject reluctance, and with the assurance of the Lord’s calling, I lead as an ezer.
A Daughter’s Worth by the Spring on the Way to Shur
Sweaty and scared, Hagar sank down by the spring on the way to Shur. There, the Lord’s angel found her—a pregnant, runaway Egyptian slave. The angel spoke words of hope, and she soaked in their goodness. Hagar realized God was with her. He told her to name her baby Ishmael, which means “God hears.” Although the angel instructed Hagar to return and submit to her mistress Sarai, God told her that doing so would result in her future blessing of many descendants.
When I was a kid, my dad called me “pinto bean.” I disliked that nickname, always picturing an ugly, splotchy veggie. Names carry meaning—whether positive or negative. Only one person recorded in the Bible gave God an additional name. Hagar. And that name was positive. Hagar named the Father, El Roi, which means “the God who sees me.” In truth, God sees each daughter, rich or poor, old or young, resident or alien, because he values every one.
A Daughter’s Worth beside Jacob’s Well
Every Christmas, Caroline’s dad shopped for gifts. He often bought clothing for his three daughters. They received the same style of a fuzzy gray sweater in their size, or matching brown flannel nightgowns. My friend said she often felt a bit blue after the unwrapping. She wished for a personalized gift that proved her dad really knew her.
Sitting beside Jacob’s Well in Sychar, Jesus asked for a drink from a Samaritan woman who came to draw water. As their conversation progressed, the woman realized this Jewish man knew all about her—her five previous husbands and the current intimate details of her life.
He explained profound wisdom to her about the living water that quenches one’s thirst for all time and how true worship reveals reverence for the Father in Spirit and truth. On Mount Horeb, at the burning bush, God the Father had first revealed himself to Moses as the “I Am.” And here at Jacob’s well, God the Son first revealed himself to this woman as the “I Am.”
As John records the story, the woman at the well believed in Jesus with faith and ran to preach the good news to her entire village. As a result, many in her city chose living water.
Time after time, Jesus taught theological truth to men and women. At Jacob’s well, Jesus entrusted his divinity news to a Samaritan. And she preached the good news with fruitful results. Counter to culture and tradition, Jesus elevated, esteemed, and empowered this daughter and many others.
A Daughter’s Worth by the Garden Tomb
Mary Magdalene served Jesus as one of his faithful disciples, a member of his traveling ministry team, and a financial supporter. Jesus healed her of seven evil spirits. And she witnessed Jesus’s ministry, crucifixion, death, and burial.
Outside the garden tomb, Mary Magdalene stood weeping. She peered in, confused, and saw two angels where Jesus’s body had lain.
A voice called out, “Mary.”
She spun around, saw Jesus, and realized he had risen. Mary Magdalene—the first resurrection witness—reached to embrace Jesus and called him, “Rabboni,” or teacher. Previously, Jesus had demonstrated to her his power over demons, and then he displayed his power over death. The resurrected Jesus first revealed himself to a daughter. In this encounter, Jesus restored Eve’s voice—muted at the fall—by ordaining Mary Magdalene to go and tell. And she ran to her brothers (what a sprint record she must have set) to share the joyous faith message, He has risen.
A Daughter’s Worth Reclaimed
Story after story, from creation in the garden to the big reveal at the garden tomb, illustrates that God esteems his daughters. Beginning with Eve’s unique ezer design, to “finding” Hagar, to the “I Am” declaration, to commissioning a female preacher to give the first resurrection message, we see God’s favor toward his gritty, strong daughters. With love, he creates, finds, knows, and values each one. And, sometimes he calls ezers to share truth with their brothers.
Looking back on our breakfast chat, I realize my dad’s verbal acknowledgment of his value scale soothed some of my hurt. And at the same time, I understood that he loved me and valued me as much as his broken scale allowed. However, I chose not to assign weight the same way. Instead, I stand firmly on my heavenly Father’s perfect scale—he values his daughters equally with his sons. Before my dad died, he knew he was loved and forgiven. I eagerly anticipate our eternal reunion, where God’s sons and daughters will thrive in oneness. Until then, may we value our daughters, alongside our sons. And may our daughters answer his call. Rise, church. Reclaim your daughters’ worth.
Cover image by Kelly Sikkema