By Jessica Monrose
Leadership in the church is generally viewed as a position or title held by those in authority, predominately filled by men. In contrast, women usually fill supportive, non-dominating roles within the church such as administrative work and childcare. What does scripture say about women leading in the church?
LEADING AS A CALLING
Because of their identity in Christ, women are called to lead. All Christians have a calling on his or her life, which is to be the image bearer of God, leading others to Him. This primary call is a person’s identity in Christ and is manifested in their everyday lives. God’s character is mirrored as individuals interact on a personal level in their immediate spheres of influence. Some of these characteristics are found in Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” 1
Women who mirror God’s character, lead in their home, school, work, community and church. Amber Mann Riggs states in an article, “Leadership is about recognizing the influence you have in your current realm and then choosing to use that influence in an intentional way.” 2 Because of their identity in Christ, women influence others by how they show the character of God through their God-given talents, passions, gifts or skills.
LEADING WITH YOUR GIFTS
According to Scripture, the entire body of Christ has a part to play. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” 3 The giving of gifts is intended for the entire body of Christ, and is necessary for building up the church. As women embrace their God-given gifts, they are walking in obedience by fulfilling their role in building up the body of Christ.
LEADING BY CHRISTIAN LIVING
Besides leading because of their identity in Christ, women also lead because of their exemplary lives through Christian living. Christian living involves knowing God and adjusting one’s character to reflect His. “Theology is reflecting on and articulating the beliefs about God and the world that Christians share as followers of Jesus Christ for the sake of Christian Living.“ 4
Theology, then, is an integral part of a Christian’s life. The desire to know more about God, results in a lifestyle that resembles Christ in character, honesty and integrity, which are integral for leadership. Whether at home or in the workplace, women are called to lead by their lifestyle. By nature, women are nurturers and give attention to teaching their children. A perfect example of this is of Eunice and Lois, grandmother and mother of Timothy. “ I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” These women taught and modeled scripture, which led Timothy to be a leader in the early church.
Also, women are called to lead their husbands if they are unbelievers. “ Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 5 As women model a Christian lifestyle, they may lead their unbelieving spouse to Christ.
WOMEN LEADING BY CHARACTER
In the workplace, leadership also occurs because of character. Andy Stanley states in regards to leadership in the workplace: “Moral authority is the credibility you earn by walking your talk. It is the relationship other people see between what you claim to be and what you really are. It is achieved when there is an alignment between conviction, action, belief and behavior. Alignment between belief and behavior makes a leader persuasive.” 6 In leading others in the workplace, one must be credible in order to earn trust. Integrity is crucial even when it goes against the culture of the workplace. For this reason, women who adopt a lifestyle of Christian living are leaders.
LEADING BY DISCIPLESHIP
In pursuit of fulfilling the Great Commission, women are called to lead through discipleship. The work of ministry in a woman’s life is not confined to the four walls of the church. As a matter of fact, it is paramount that women go out in the community with the message of reconciliation, leading unbelievers to Christ. God’s people have been selected to co-mission with Him. As Jesus was sent to redeem the world, Christians are also sent to bring healing and reconciliation through discipleship to the world. The women of the church are fulfilling their purpose of being an image-bearer of God through the Great Commission.
WOMEN LEADING OTHER WOMEN
Women are called to disciple other women by teaching them how to live lives that mirror God. Older women are commanded in scripture to teach the younger women how to take care of their homes, husbands and children. 7 Through discipleship, women lead the next generation of women.
WOMEN LEADING CHILDREN
As an act of obedience, women lead their children by discipling them. In preparing children for a life in Christ, mothers are entrusted with the role of teaching and leading their children both by being a model and by providing instruction. Because children do what they see, instruction alone is not beneficial for the leading of children. Incorporating modeling of daily living allows mothers to fully lead their children.
Although men generally fulfill positions and titles of authority in the church, women are also called to lead. Women lead because of their identity in Christ, their way of living and in fulfilling the Great Commission of discipling others both inside and outside the church. Women must embrace the responsibility of leadership in all areas of their lives. In essence, the very being of a Christian woman’s life is lived so others may be reconciled to God. Women are leaders, so therefore they must lead.
- Gal. 5:22,23 (NIV)
- Riggs, Amber Mann. “Why Jesus-Followers Should See Themselves as Leaders.” Artios Magazine, 15 Apr. 2019, artiosmagazine.org/lifeleadership/leader/
- 1 Cor. 12: 27 (NIV)
- Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 47
- 1 Pet. 3:1 (NIV)
- Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials For Those Who Will Shape The Future (New York: Multnomah 2005), 140
- Titus 2:2-5 (NIV)