Mary, Martha or Moses?
A few years ago I had the privilege of traveling with my friend Judy Douglass to participate in an event for Synergy, an organization Judy co-founded which purposes to “empower women living out of their Christian calling.” At a breakfast meeting on the last day, several women rose and vulnerably shared that they began their leadership journeys with the intent to change the world, but when they accepted Christ and joined the church, they were advised about what they could no longer do. The tension in their stories felt disparate and confusing: world-changing women struggling to understand their callings after choosing to follow Christ.
Like the women at the Synergy breakfast, my parents raised me to be a world-changer. Waiting patiently on my dresser many mornings were carefully chosen Wall Street Journal articles chronicling inspiring people doing significant work. But like the women at the Synergy breakfast, in my early twenties, I kept bumping into people who believed that because I was a Christian and a woman, there were many things that I should not do. Because I ached to do the right thing, the confusion sometimes kept me up at night.
In God’s kindness, I met a lion-hearted man on staff with an interdenominational ministry called Cru, who invited me to change the world with him. We married and in 2001 set out to serve in the Middle East. I began to study the interactions that Jesus had with women against the backdrop of our beloved Middle Eastern culture. I wrestled with the Pauline Epistles. I devoured literature about leadership and the role of women. I engaged in ongoing conversations with wise leaders and theologians worthy of trust and respect representing multiple theological perspectives. I prayed.
My study led me to the conclusion that God was calling me to lead. I’d spent 15 years trying to be more like Mary and less like Martha, when all along God was inviting me to model the life of Moses. I am grateful that I serve a ministry with Godly leaders who have asked me to put my hand to the plow of rewarding and meaningful work.
The role of women in leadership deserves the careful, Biblically studied attention of men and women who will bravely step outside of our safe silos and engage in respectful, healthy dialogue. One of the craftiest plans of the enemy in this generation is to keep the church so focused on outlining what women should not do, that we miss the opportunity to invite women to fulfill the work for which they are called. This a generation raised in the Digital Age tasked with fighting human trafficking, solving a global refugee crisis, and introducing people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. We need all hands on deck.
My prayer is that my life as a leader will be described as one who holds respectful, sacred space serving alongside brothers and sisters who possess varying theological beliefs about the role of women in leadership without losing sight of who I am and what God is asking me to do. Like the WSJ articles left ‘anonymously’ by my sweet father three decades ago, I want to extend invitations to both men and women to live fully into Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Will you join me?