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Lead in a Way Only You Can

Many have tried to box us in or tell us who we should be, but we are kingdom women, and we are diverse.

Knowing that our roles within the body of Christ are divinely inspired, women who lead, teach, preach, and use their gifts within the kingdom should look like a divine rainbow of diversity. Some might very well have an inspired imagination to teach, preach, and lead fearlessly like Deborah. Others might lead maternally. For me, both are true. Breaking through gender molds doesn’t mean we have to throw away how we might be as women. The truth is, we are women, and that is what we embrace, not stereotypes.

After I preached a sermon not too long ago, someone came up to me and said, “You are so amazing when you preach, and you are so anointed! When you preach, I don’t even see you as a woman!” I have no doubt this individual meant well when he said this, but I was left feeling rather perplexed; would it be a bad thing, then, if he saw me as a woman when I preached? I, for one, am glad I’m a woman who preaches, and I’m not ashamed to let that shine. In fact, it shines in all sorts of ways.

We aren’t genderless, and there is something so mysterious about the gender identity that I so often have a difficult time wrapping my brain around. My gender identity, no doubt, is biological, it is shaped by culture, and it is part of God’s paintbrush in creation. With that being said, there are times when I think I lead differently from anything I have observed from my male counterparts. Often, when I am sitting with one of our staff pastors going through a difficult time, something within me lights up that might look a little maternal. In all seriousness, I sometimes want to tell them to get comfy on the couch while I make them hot soup and warm chocolate chip cookies, and then we can cry together about their bad day!

While I’ve never done that, I’ve learned to embrace the mysterious maternal nature deeply imbedded in the way I lead. I’ve never seen my male counterparts sit and cry with a staff member when they’ve had a bad day, but I’ve learned to embrace that this is how I sometimes lead. My sermon illustrations are often laced with maternal imagery, and I’ve learned to embrace the fact that my preaching leans in that direction. My leadership style tends to be less direct and more collaborative, and that is okay. Breaking gender molds, you see, doesn’t mean we move from leading one way to another; rather it means we are free to lead in the only way that we can lead. Be you, dear sister.

Kingdom Women Are Diverse

We are kingdom women, and we are diverse. We have short hair and we have long hair; dirt is under our fingernails from toiling under the sun, and our fingernails are nicely manicured with pink nail polish; we stay at home with the children, care for our husbands, and support their careers, but we also choose to wear blue pantsuits and pastor churches. We wear yoga pants, leggings, mom jeans, cargo shorts, long skirts, and daisy dukes. You see, our femininity is not rooted in ideology or cultural norms but in our humanity, which is firmly rooted in the humanity of Christ. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of King Jesus informs our identities. We sometimes bear children and sometimes don’t, but childbearing isn’t our identity; instead, our identities are ordered in the saving and transforming activity of the triune God.

Our lives are firmly rooted in Jesus Christ, and we are emboldened by the empowering presence of the Spirit. The Spirit informs our decisions in the office, at home, behind a cashier’s counter, and in our relationships; by the Spirit we are shaped into the women we were created to be—biblical women, holy women, and daughters of the resurrection. We are beautiful, strong, courageous, quiet, submissive, outspoken, tender, fierce, and emboldened.

We are kingdom women, and we are in Christ. When we gather together every week for prayer, praise, and Eucharist, the empowering presence of the Spirit is among us, and that is when we shine. Imagine the introverted church planter Ming-An, who although introverted is deeply relational and has the ability to meet the unchurched where they are. Imagine Jameelah, the gospel-singing and extroverted theologian. Imagine Dana, the women’s director who is happily single and would rather be at a Cubs game than a craft party. Imagine Rosa, the nonprofit director who loves numbers and spreadsheets, and thereby attempts to help further the cause of social justice.

Kingdom women are diverse, you see. We have gifts to teach, preach, prophesy, serve, lead, and build. We are church planters, we are kitchen ladies, we are number crunchers, we are directors, and we are worship leaders. We are nurturing, we are assertive, we are maternal, and we are fierce. We are full of wisdom, and we are also new Christians. Many have tried to box us in or tell us who we should be, but when we look to Christ, we see cruciformity, love, grace, courage, and presence. Sure, try to box us in, but we are kingdom women, and we are diverse.

Tara Beth Leach is the senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena in California, and the author of Emboldened. You can follow her on Twitter @TaraBeth82. Taken from Emboldened by Tara Beth Leach. ©2017 by Tara Beth Leach. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com

October26, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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