More women are taking on roles of leadership in the church now than ever before. The history of Christianity is full of examples of strong, godly women who achieved remarkable breakthroughs for the kingdom of God. Judges 4 tells us that God anointed Deborah as judge of Israel, gave her wisdom and prophetic counsel, and granted a 40-year period of peace as a result of her effective leadership.
In Acts 18:24-28, we read that a skilled preacher named Apollos was teaching the message of Jesus in Ephesus. But because he had never been instructed properly about water baptism or the infilling of the Holy Spirit, Paul’s co-workers, Priscilla and Aquilla, took him aside and “explained to him the way of God more accurately (v. 26).” And in 1 Corinthians 16:16, the apostle urges his followers to submit to “everyone who helps in the work and labors.” Since “everyone” in this passage obviously includes Priscilla as well as Junia, Phoebe and the other women who assisted Paul on his apostolic team, we can clearly see that he asked the early church to acknowledge the authority of the women who worked with him.
Huldah the prophetess was sought out by King Josiah’s top leaders for her advice about the spiritual condition of their nation (2 Kings 22:14-20). And when the elderly prophetess Anna recognized that the baby Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, she proclaimed his identity to his parents and to all who came into the temple. She was, in fact, one of the first people on planet Earth to publicly proclaim the gospel of the new covenant.
So if God used women leaders throughout the Old and New Testaments, how can women thrive as leaders in the Church today?
1. “Don’t push yourself way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top…don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage.” (Phil 2:3 MSG) Allow God to promote you to a place of leadership.
2. Lead with diligence and boldness. People will not follow a leader who is indecisive and always second guessing decisions made.
3. Stop apologizing for your gifts and opportunities. If God has called you to lead in the church world, you have to get over the fact that you are a woman. Get over yourself, take a deep breath and rely on God to direct your path.
4. Henry Cloud reminds us that every leader leaves behind a kind of wake, just like a boat leaves a wake as it moves through the water. The question is what kind of wake, or legacy, are we creating day by day? Would those we lead say that their experiences with us have left them better off for having moved through their lives, or would they say that it has left them worse off?
5. Remain true to that which you have been called. If you are sure God has placed you in a position of leadership, stand firm even when the path gets rough.
Has God gifted you to be a woman leader in the church world? How are you using your gifts?