Thriving As A Woman In Leadership

I’m sidestepping the theological debate about “Complementarianism versus Egalitarianism.” (confession: I had to look those terms up myself) I’m not trying to convince you to change your theology.

But regardless of how you interpret scripture on women’s leadership role, my goal for this Fertilizer is to help us create healthy environments for church leaders.

This cartoon I recently saw on Facebook describes the context where many of our sisters lead. I hope it builds empathy.

I’ve invited Samantha Rude to share on this topic since she is categorically more qualified to speak to it. Samantha is the Director of Audience of One at The Great Southwest Prayer Center in Katy, Texas. She has also been on staff at several churches as a worship pastor. She’s also a wonderful person, passionate leader, talented musician, and, most importantly, wholly given to the LORD.

She writes...

We often misunderstand equality, authority, and equity in the conversation about women in church leadership.

First, in the Kingdom, you have something much better than equality, better than sameness. As a child of the Most High King, you are unique and irreplaceable. You aren’t mass-produced on some conveyor belt. You have been handcrafted with purpose and love. You were knit together in the womb of your mother. You have been considered with love from the very foundation of the earth.

You are made in the image of God because you are a woman, not in spite of being a woman. The identity God has given you is something the world needs, something the LORD longs for - your expression of Himself upon the earth - living out your authentic self in worship.

Dear sister, you do not need to fight for equality or strive to be like the man to your left or right to be an effective leader. Be the woman your Maker has designed - no more, no less.

Next, whereas being an authority calls into question our ability to perform tasks at a certain level, having authority is more at the heart of the matter. The enemy is continually occupying himself with division in the Bride of Christ. It is the enemy’s deliberate scheme to draw dividing lines within our churches based on power and earthly authority.

In Luke 6, the disciples argued about who was the best, who was the most important, who had the most power in the group. Jesus said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

This demonstrates the upside-down Kingdom that we are citizens of. The Kingdom’s economy isn’t about equality or even authority because we have been given so much more by our Father in Heaven. The focus is on being about our Father’s business. There is no male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free. We are all one. (Galatians 3:28)

Lastly, your circumstances and the opinion of others do not change your identity. You cannot be shamed, for you know the Maker of heaven and earth, and He calls you, “Mine.” Explore this equity you have in Jesus. He loves you uniquely, has created you and gifted you with gifts, and He is invested heavily in you. You are a sign. You are a wonder. You are a city on a hill that will not be hidden. Love you.

- Samantha

We recorded a fantastic Adlibbing on this topic. Watch it at Some of the highlights include:

What can pastors do to help their women leaders thrive?

  • Speak up for them, stand up for them
  • Give them authority, don’t give them more responsibility than they have been given authority
  • Be a safe place
  • Understand/Study what God’s design for partnership is
  • Make space for the dynamics of being a wife and mom, create structures and systems to provide for the unique challenges
  • Ask them what they need to be successful
  • Pray for them

How can women strengthen their leadership voice and thrive?

  • Balance authority with responsibility
  • Recognize that God has given you authority- Take up space, walk in authority
  • Have allies on your team - it doesn’t deny your agency; Build community
  • Don’t try to be a man, be a woman - believe you’re valuable BECAUSE you’re a woman, not despite it
  • Study biblical women leaders
  • Fill your soul with what God says about you and your appointment and identity
  • Gideon was terrified and appointed to lead - the LORD is into doing things against the grain, against the way of the world. Be who you are created to be (personality, strengths, flaws, passions, etc.) - let Him deal with the economy of that.

Is there a woman in leadership that you can encourage today? Perhaps she’d be blessed by reading this Fertilizer.

- Dave