Women In Leadership
By Mrs. Jean Francis
WHO IS A LEADER?
A leader is not a leader simply because they have been given a title or a position. For example, Reverend by name does not make you reverend by nature! Some people claim themselves to be leaders, but you only need to observe them and you will notice that people do not listen to them, follow them, obey them, nor in any way look up to them.
If you are a wife of a leader, I believe that you are called to the ministry with your husband. This does not mean that you are called to preach or take over the affairs of the church or ministry, but it does mean that the wife is to support her husband in the ministry as much as she can.
Perhaps you may be a single woman in a leadership role? If this is the case, I feel that your church leadership is always a safe-guard in helping you make major decisions, or in any matters that you may need another opinion on, etc. Other than that develop an ongoing spiritual relationship with a proven, wise leadership couple who have had some years of practical experience.
THE ATTITUDE OF A LEADER IS . . .
TO HAVE A SERVANT’S HEART
Mark 10:45 tells us: "For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered ("served") unto, but to minister ("serve"), and to give His life a ransom for many" (KJV).
J.B. Phillips Translation says: "For the Son of Man Himself has not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life to set many others free."
Servants "set many others free."
Jesus came as a Servant!
"Lord, show me, teach me, help me . . . to serve and to give!"
If you will let this be your attitude, the process involved in you becoming more like Christ Himself will be much smoother, much faster, and much less painful. Looking for ways to support, encourage, build up and inspire ("to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon a person" - Collins Dictionary), and by regarding others as more important than yourself requires the attitude of giving rather than receiving.
Remember the words of Jesus in Acts 20:35 ?
"It is more blessed to give than to receive" (KJV).
"Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving" (NEB).
KNOW HOW TO SERVE:
So, if we want to be a leader, or if we are already a leader, we must know how to serve. A leader also needs to know how to motivate and activate the people (they are leading or working with) so that they will follow them. Some people are very slow to move, but don’t throw them away. If you are patient, handle them carefully, and lead them gently, you will often end up with a lovely "polished diamond" whose light will really shine, especially in certain areas. A true leader stays in touch with the struggles that others experience. We need to learn how to manage them, direct them and help them. Always remember, Jesus died for people, and we often have to be willing to "lay down our lives for the brethren"
(1 John 3:16 , KJV).
Jesus also taught us to "go the extra mile" (Matthew 5:41 ).
We who desire to follow Jesus closely must come to terms with self-denial, and also to give ourselves to others (which can be costly).
In Luke 9:23 we read this:
Then He said to all, "Anyone who wants to follow Me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him every day and keep close to Me!" (TLB).
The Amplified Bible says:
"If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself - that is, disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself - and take up his cross daily, and follow Me [that is, cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example, in living and if need be in dying also]."
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
LEADERS MUST BE GIVERS:
Leaders must be people who excel in unselfishness. We are never more like God than when we give: "For God so loved the world, that He GAVE . . ." (John 3:16 ). We must look beyond our own needs to the needs of others.
LEADERS MUST HAVE DIRECTION AND KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING:
We are not called to be a "blind leader of the blind" (Matthew 15:14 ).
Proverbs 29:18 states:
"Where there is no vision the people perish" (KJV) or
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint" (NIV).
It is important to know where we have come from, and we should be very conscious of where we are going. We must guard against becoming careless or sloppy in our leadership. If we wander away from the vision of God to us, the people who follow will do the same!
BE WILLING TO REACH OUT:
The best way to lead people into a willing spirit is to model it. This involves things like reaching out without being invited, and sensing deep hurts without being told.
Many people are hurting, but they don’t feel free to say so until we voluntarily reach out to them.
1 Peter 5:3 (J.B. Phillips Translation):
"You should aim not at being ‘little tin gods,’ but as examples of Christian living in the eyes of the flock committed to your charge."
Isn’t it wonderful that God made us with all different personalities!
Some shy. Some not so shy. Some forward. Some noisy, etc. What a task the leader has in trying to bring us all into unity - in the bonds of love - in one accord, with gladness and singleness of heart!
There is always room for growth. Often people who have come out of unusual circumstances, etc., will need a lot of love, understanding and patience in helping them. Twenty years of living in "a mess" can take a length of time to get out of. Habits take time to change. Sometimes people will turn away from the help you give. Jesus experienced this when speaking with the "rich young ruler" (Matthew 19:16-26 ). Jesus didn’t run off after him; He let him go. Jesus was always loving and truthful, even though at times He had to be firm. We need His wisdom to know when to "hang in there" with a person, or when (and if) we should "let them go."
PRODUCE OTHER LEADERS:
Let us learn to trust, give responsibility to, and rely on people. Many times you will have people who want to help (serve), but when the time comes they are not there, or they will argue their way out.
There is much more to giving ourselves to the Lord, and to others, than making verbal statements! Jesus was "let down" and rejected by many, even His own disciples. And so will we. But no one has suffered like Him. So . . . Rejoice!
* Let them have some practical training, e.g. visitation, praying for the
sick, and sharing a five to ten minute testimony or word.
LEADING STARTS AT HOME:
What goes on between husband and wife, wife and children, children and father, will all have an effect on our leadership ability.
MYSELF AS A LEADER:
For many years I never saw myself as a leader. I would prefer others to lead and, of course, I felt much happier in the "back seat" position. I felt very inferior and inadequate. I was shy.
But God used His servant, Peter Morrow (Christchurch, New Zealand), to bring a prophetic word over my life: "God is wanting you, Jean; yes, you are to lead the women. They are waiting for you to lead them." That stirred my heart. I had always said that I wanted to obey the Lord and be what He wanted me to be.
That word impacted my life. First, my relationship with God improved. I asked God to fill me with His love for the women that He wanted me to lead. Secondly, I wanted to be an example of our Lord Jesus. With God’s help I believe He is bringing this to pass. The Scripture found in 2 Corinthians 12:9 has helped me immensely:
"My grace is enough for you, for My power is at its best in weakness" (Jerusalem Bible), and Philippians 4:13 : "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (NIV).
SOME OF THE HARDEST THINGS I HAVE FACED AS A PASTOR’S / MINISTER’S WIFE AND A LEADER:
1. SHARING MY HUSBAND:
This has perhaps been one of the hardest areas I have faced as a Minister’s wife. To let my husband be every one else’s friend and letting him be available to them at any time. We don’t know what emergencies will happen, or when they will be called upon to help, etc.
This can make you feel unwanted, or not very special, at times.
The Scripture comes to mind in Matthew 19:29 :
"And anyone who gives up his home, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, or property, to follow Me, shall receive a hundred times as much in return, and shall have eternal life" (TLB
Also in Luke 8:19-21 :
"His mother and His brothers came looking for Him, but they could not get to Him because of the crowd. He was told, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside
and want to see You’. But He said, ‘My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice" (Jerusalem Bible).
In many ways God’s ministers can become "public property" as they are called upon to fulfil their various functions. Ministry is a "peoples business." And people can become demanding, especially in times of crises.
2. GOD’S WILL:
Some people are quick to tell you what you should be doing and how you should do it.
I like this quote by Gerald Coates (United Kingdom): "Don’t fall into the trap of living your life constantly as others think you should. Anyway, you won’t succeed."
There are right expectations of others, but quite often people think they know much better than you - even where you should be - what you should be doing - and how you should do it. They will even know better than God! It is amazing at the numbers of people who are "experts" on the will of God for your life, but have no idea of it for their own! I have come to realize that if you allow them to dictate, you won’t live . . . let alone lead!
As we seek God and know Him, He will direct our paths.
It seems to be so much easier for people to criticize than to encourage.
I have learnt that no matter what you do, or how you do it, you will not make everybody happy.
We must learn how to handle criticism!
It seems that the closer you walk with God the more this happens.
"Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution - that is, will be made to suffer because of their religious stand" (AMP.).
"Piety" means "1. dutiful devotion to God and observance of religious principles. 2. the quality or characteristic of being pious . . ." (Collins).
Regardless of the demands and expectations of the ministry, God must come first. Some people do not understand this.
Sometimes our critics may be right (at least in part), and we need to respond accordingly. We may re-act strongly to criticism because it pricks our conscience about something we know we’re doing wrong, but haven’t been willing to face. It is also important that we learn to distinguish between condemnation of the devil and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will discipline with loving encouragement. He convicts, but He also comforts. Always be willing to learn by your mistakes.
"God is a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1 , KJV).
Psalm 34:1 : "I will praise the Lord no matter what happens!" (TLB).
4. THE DEMANDS OF PEOPLE:
Because you are a leader, or the wife of a leader, some people have the idea that they have a right to you any time of the day. In one way this could be correct, especially if we are to practice self-denial.
Remember Luke 9:23 ?
Jesus said to them all, "If any man will come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (KJV).
I found it very hard at times, when I had a very busy schedule, to be available. I would be thinking of all the things I had to do, and how I would have no time to do them. As I have grown in my calling I do find there are some shortcuts which can help in our workload.
Believe it or not, I did use to struggle in this area! I wanted everything just perfect. Every time I had visitors come, I would feel I had to spring-clean the house, even though our home was well kept! I soon learnt that hospitality puts people before things. It does not try to impress, but to serve. I now expect people to accept me as they find me. As long as I had love for them, they would feel that they were wanted. Hospitality does everything with no thought of reward, but takes pleasure in the joy of giving, loving and serving. As leaders we are told to give hospitality (1 Timothy 3:2 ; 1 Peter 4:9 ).
AREAS IN MY LIFE I HAVE FOUND IMPORTANT TO WATCH AS A LEADER:
"Give no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God"(KJV).
"Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed" (KJV).
"We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited" (NIV).Philippians 1:10 :
"That you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" (NKJV).
"A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret" (NIV).
"He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates the best of friends" (NKJV).
"The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly" (KJV); or, as the Good News Bible says: "Gossip is so tasty - how we love to swallow it!"
"Also [I desire] that women should adorn themselves modestly and appropriately and sensibly in seeming apparel, not with [elaborate] hair arrangement or gold or pearls or expensive clothing,
But by doing good deeds - that is, deeds in themselves good, and for the good and advantage of those contacted by them - as befits women who profess reverential fear for and devotion to God" (AMP.).
"Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example
(pattern) for the believers, in speech, in con- duct, in love, in faith and in purity" (AMP.).
Another translation puts it this way:
"Don’t let anyone think little of you because you are young. Be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live; be a pattern for them in your love, your faith and your clean thoughts" (TLB).
"If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach . . ." (NIV). (See also Titus 2:3 ).
We have been given a responsibility to lead by God, and it is a privilege. Remember, we are on public view.
SOME "DO’S AND DON’TS" FOR PLATFORM MINISTRY:
In Matthew 5:1-12 , Jesus instructs us how to be His unique servant
(these are called "The Beatitudes"):
God bless you!