The first time I remember searching for answers on women in leadership I was 24 years old.
I grew up in an environment that meant I never questioned my gender impacting any career path. But, as a college student, and now newly married, I had been a member of a congregation that had hugely impacted me. I came back to Jesus through this ministry and had grown enormously in my friendship with God. But, it also taught and modeled to me that my gender was an issue; that when it came to teaching and leading I had been born with too many X chromosomes.
I was a confused young woman.
Why would God, a good Father, place vision, dreams, and gifts inside me if they were just to be unused and stagnant?
These questions didn’t make any sense to me and so I went on a journey of discovery. At the time we lived in a bible college in London. My science teaching husband had responded to the call of full-time ministry and so we were living in this wonderful new community. I took myself to the library one day, where I found a well-stocked plethora of opinions and started to read. I loaned every book on the topic and read furiously to answer the questions of call and assignment that were inside of me.
I would like to say that I neatly worked out my position but wholehearted living is never neat and tidy. It involves multiple journeys of joy, lament, and questions. Sometimes questions get answered and sometimes they never do (like Paul what did you mean that women are saved through childbirth??)
Through the searching and with the community, I realized that I was called to serve the body of Christ with my whole heart and life. The Father had not made a mistake in me. He had gifted me to lead, teach and pioneer in the church.
We moved cities and became an unusual prototype for ministry in that era. A married couple both feeling called together as a team to ordained full-time ministry. We were pioneering something rarely seen. It was clunky, and there was plenty of tension as we wrestled working together, but it also brought the kingdom as we represented the full image of God.
There is a couple in the Word that we don’t talk about much called Priscilla and Aquila. They were Italian Jews and immigrants to Greece. They were in the same business as Paul and became good friends, even risking their own lives for him. They were teachers of the word, disciplining people in their home and leading a church there. They were known by all the Gentile churches. Priscilla wasn’t some hidden ministry leader just for kids and Sunday school but a key part of the apostolic strategic mission of the early church.
Jesus, the perfect representation of the Father, had women financially supporting him. Women were released and set free around him. Women have been oppressed in the church for years, but that was never the Father’s intention. He created women to be bearers of life, not just physically, but spiritually. He called women to lead individuals and communities, disciple, and teach.
If you are a woman questioning how you have a voice or whether women should be leading in church I want to encourage you to ask the Father to speak to you through the word and to find women that have gone ahead in this journey.
If you need encouragement on this topic feel free to reach out to the Grace and Truth team, [email protected]