Women really can be called to leadership

LT has been bringing up the subject of women in leadership again so I will throw in my thinking on this subject too.  This will be a bit on the long side.  I appreciate LT’s post expounding on some of the scripture having to do with this whole controversy.  Because I am a woman, and because I have tried to understand what God’s will is for me, I will comment.

Women in leadership is an issue that interests me.  Our denomination has ordained women for years.  Still, some raise it as an issue almost 30 years later.  Our denomination in Canada has never called a female pastor. 

I never realized that, in some denominations, even women like myself, a deaconess, would be offensive to some fellow Christians. (And I have even taught, although I don’t think that is my calling)

My own denomination has a very high regard for scripture.  When there is an issue the question ”where is it written?” is always asked.  So this whole question has been well thought out and backed by scripture.  Two good articles I would refer you to are: http://www.covchurch.org/cov/ministry/bellevillepaper.pdf and http://www.covchurch.org/cov/ministry/calledgifted.pdf .  They are good resources and if this is a subject that interests you, I would encourage you to go and download these papers. 

Unlike most ancient religions, Jesus encouraged and allowed women to follow him.  He encouraged even disreputable women to interact with him.  Mark 15:40,41 and Luke 8:1-3 speak of the women who were disciples of Jesus and helped to finance his ministry.  Mary was encouraged and commended for her desire to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn rather than busy herself with the household chores that were expected of her by her sister.(Luke 10:38-42)  There are numerous other examples of the involvement of women. 

I guess the controversy arises mostly out of the Pauline letters.  I believe, as LT has shown, that Paul addresses specific problems that had arisen in the various churches.  The papers I refer to above also address these passages and certainly helped clarify them for me.   

Determining God’s will in this area is important to me.  I suspect that a sensitivity to where others are in their understanding of faith and a desire to comply with the will of God as revealed in scripture, keeps some women from choosing to explore the possibility of a calling to teach, prophesy and preach the Word.  It is a shame that the women who display many attributes desirable in a servant leader would deny their calls to be proclaimers of the gospel, because of harsh and dogmatic opinions of others in the body of believers.  In fact I think we rarely encourage young women to even consider that God may be calling them to ministry.  We encourage them to music and children’s ministries but rarely to consider that God may want to use them to instruct others.

I also believe that God still speaks to us through his Holy Spirit.  What is the cost to his church of causing a woman to turn a deaf ear to a call due to fear of criticism, or worse yet, due to a fear of displeasing the very God who called her.  Something is very distorted in the body when a part designed to function in one way has to pretend to not have that function.  Like asking a mouth to somehow function instead as arm.

This is not arguing on the basis that men and women are equal and therefore the same.  This is not claiming equality as a right.  This doesn’t even have anything really to do with the emerging church because my denomination is not defined as an emerging church as such.  This is allowing God’s gifts to be used by men and women alike.

Men and women are going to approach things from different viewpoints and work out different and unique leadership styles.  As women are encouraged to serve in leadership I believe we will see the various gifts God has bestowed on us demonstrated in a variety of expressions all working together to build up the body of Christ.


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  1. I guess this is an area where we (partially) disagree.

    Interesting that you include prophesy in the list of things women feel they shouldn’t do. I’ve never heard that before, and had always considered that to be one of the areas where it WAS scripturally obvious women should participate.

    My issue comes with women in govermental roles, but I can see that there are places where God clearly HAS called women to governmental roles. I would suggest that this is the exception, rather than the norm, and may be due to locally specific circumstances.

    I’ll try to read Leighton’s articles and those .pdfs you linked to, and see if they produce something different in me.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this over the last few hours since I first posted and read Leighton’s blog.

    He’s trying to make certain points about Paul’s *absolute* statement, but I think this is all simply fencing around the consistency of scripture. Jesus broke all kinds of traditions, mores, rules and cultural practice. He never refrained from upsetting the religious leaders and always challenged people. His teaching and lifestyle were radical, and unacceptable to many. He associated with prostitutes and tax collectors. He could take un-educated, rough and ready fishermen and teach them in 3 years so effectively that the sanhedrin were amazed at their knowledge.

    Yet not a single apostle was a woman.

    It wasn’t because he wouldn’t break jewish custom. It wasn’t because they weren’t clever or brave enough. It wasn’t because he had a problem with women, or was threatened by them. It wasn’t because he was a chauvinist. There even was a precedent set for female leadership in Israel, with Deborah.

    There HAS to be a reason – to say it was because of contemporary culture is to deny Jesus’ very nature.


  3. Steve Menshenfriend


    Good question. I think that it is important to understand the symbolic nature of the 12 disciples. Jesus is starting something new, a new Israel. The 12 disciples represent the new 12 tribes … the new 12 sons of Jacob. It seems clear to me that Jesus had many followers, some of whom were women. It even seems that some of these women followed Jesus around like the 12 disciples (notice how the gospels use that phrase “the 12” … it is as if the writers are making a point … “there is something new happening here, it a new work of God” In particular read the accounts of the upper room and the way “the 12” is used. It almost seems like a consecration cerrimony. I think there are reasons why Jesus chose 12 men to represent what he was all about to his Jewish world, but I don’t think it has much to say about whether women can teach in his church today.

    This is a continuing conversation that I often have with people. I try to enter into it humbly and with a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ. Please don’t take offense, none is intended. I just think that these thoughts might cause you to futher reflection.

    Peace. Steve.

  4. Beautifully written and grace filled, Lydia.

    Thanks as well to Steve and Toni for balanced and temperate views.

  5. Steve

    Very well said.

    From my perspective, I wouldn’t be part of a church that isn’t sure how it feels about women in leadership anymore than I would be part of one that wasn’t sure about how it feels about Black people in leadership. In either case, the sincerity of “those un-sure” isn’t even a factor. I’d be more concerned about “those un-included”.

    Uh … just a bit stuck on one thing though, why is it that “those unsure” are thought to have a “high view of scripture”? Where does that leave Jesus on the “view-of-scripture” scale?? Hummm.