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As a woman serving in ministry over the course of many years, I have often been asked about my position on women in leadership, especially from a biblical perspective. It seems many want to “choose” a side and want me to do the same. Personally for me, it’s just never been a major issue.

I really never thought of being in leadership as a direction for my life. God chose otherwise, and to be honest, maybe being “bossy” as a kid indicated I’d lead somewhere, some day! But truly, I never knew or dreamed I’d serve the Lord in the way He has called me to do, first on a church staff, then through a denominational role.  The only way I’d have done it was out of obedience (even if I kicked and screamed along the way!).

One of the first people I met when I began working at LifeWay was Selma Wilson, who at that time was editor of Journey magazine, our devotional for women. She didn’t know what God would do in the coming years as she led faithfully in various capacities at LifeWay Christian Resources and modeled effective leadership in general (and for women specifically) in a way that I know brings joy to our Father.

Recently, Dr. Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, interviewed Selma.  Take a minute to read and reflect on Selma’s responses here: Ed Stetzer’s Interview with Selma Wilson.

I particularly love (and identify with) Selma’s comments in this portion of her interview:

I am a conservative evangelical woman, so I work with mostly men (this is actually the case in most of the publishing industry, regardless of your theological view, really). In my situation, I have been so very blessed to have male supervisors along the way that have truly modeled what it means to be servant leaders and have respected my gifts and my role. They’ve empowered me.

For me, I don’t feel that I can’t be a leader even though I would identify with the complementarian view, and I have convictions about roles in the church and home that are different than the culture might have.

I am aware of the discussions about gender, but have stayed focused on the work before me and given most of my energy and leadership influence on building strategy, team, and building a successful plan for positive outcome. To be honest, I have run into gender role issues only a few times in my own leadership journey. Simply put, I’m empowered here.

When I was on a church staff doing missions and women’s ministry, I too, worked with an almost all male staff. Like Selma, I sought to keep my focus the current call in serving. Because I was so busy doing that, other things just weren’t important issues for me. I never felt limited in what God asked me to.

I’m not sure what your leadership journey has entailed as a woman, but I would just encourage you to walk so close to Christ, that when He whispers “walk this way,” “take this step,” you will see His hand leading, guiding and opening any door for you that He has chosen to lead  you through.          

Comments

  1. Chris, I love this article and I am going to share it with others. We are so blessed to have here in Pa this summer for our SHE Leads conference. Your wisdom will be a much needed view.
    For me, I always felt called to women but when God blessed me in a role with my Pastor to teach. I felt that he was my authority and I willingly submitted to him. No agenda for me, but to follow God and follow hard.

  2. This is so my story!! I went kicking and screaming too but once I surrendered I could imagine my life without these women!! I am not currently on staff (yet) but I love what I do. My favorite thing is watching God change these women. When I look back from where I came from it overjoys me to know how these women once felt and where they are now!
    From the time I was a little girl I felt set apart to love others & to make sure no one was left out in the crowd. God gave me that love early on. Now that Im in my 40′s I wonder what took me so long!

  3. Chris,
    This is a beautiful explanation. I am finding more and more of my brothers are accepting of women in leadership. Recently, I attended a prayer summit for leaders in our state. One session was joint with men and women ( many pastors). There was a free and easy exchange and much transparency among the male leaders. God is moving in our our culture. The role of women was important to Christ and it will remain important. Our obedience is key and I love the term Servant Leader. It’s hard to pick a fight with a great servant! Thank you for your shining example of being a servant leader.

    Linda David

  4. It was actually two male pastors at Saddleback Church who encouraged me almost 20 years ago to use my skills as a leader in the secular world to follow the “feed My sheep” call to start and lead the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry. They supported me every step of the way, and Woman to Woman Mentoring quickly expanded outside the walls of Saddleback Church to the world. And one of the best parts of that journey was meeting you Chris and partnering with LifeWay. I often wonder what would have happened if those two pastors had not championed me.
    Also on another note, The Team That Jesus Built is written to equip women leaders to build teams that equip the women of their church to become better leaders. http://womantowomanmentoring.com/publications/books/#team.

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