God is doing a new thing.
I (Michelle) live and work in the world that is global church leadership. As a woman I am limited; as an unmarried woman without children, even more so. Lately I have been challenged by how I can maximize the freedom I have in Christ, not just in terms of my salvation, but also in terms of my life and leadership. Better yet, how can I encourage other women in the same way? As we study scripture, we see how women like Esther, Deborah, and Mary influenced others, pointed them to God, and helped them walk in His purposes. These women remind me that I can’t change the world, but I can be an influencer of it.
We are hearing stories of how Christ is transforming the leadership of ministries all throughout the South Asia and Africa through Freedom to Lead. Men are being challenged to rise up as the Christ-centered leaders God has called them to be and that’s an exciting thing to be part of. In the meantime, we have these women. These courageous, determined women with a heart for Jesus. What of them?
Women with a Heart for Jesus
These are my heroes of the faith. Some of these women, while walking five miles every day to get water, are telling stories of Jesus along the way. Other women are those who lead prayer movements, oftentimes secretly, getting on their knees before God on behalf of the nations around them. There are women who lead house churches, run radio programs, work in clinics, and speak real hope to a suffering generation. I met a woman who is what I imagine Ruth was like back in her day. I see other women who I imagine are a lot like Abigail, or Tabitha, or Hannah. These are all very different women who have been uniquely called by God to influence their worlds.
However, the reality is that these women are vastly under-resourced. They are under-resourced because yes, they may not read or are not comfortable relating in a literate world. But, perhaps even more so, they are under resourced simply because they are women.
This is what Freedom to Lead’s President, Rick Sessoms says:
“Women comprise at least half of the Christian population, and women ministry leaders are often available and teachable. Women are generally attracted to storycentric learning methods, and will have an increasingly significant influence worldwide in the years ahead. We believe that Freedom to Lead’s curriculum can fulfill a major need to develop women in storycentric communities to fulfill context-appropriate roles as effective, Christ-centered leaders.”
Leadership in the Church: Headship and Influence
When people in the church talk about leadership, the conversation defaults to the topic of headship. When we go there, the topic of women in leadership can get sticky. However, when we in Freedom to Lead International talk about leadership we are not talking about position, or authority for that matter. We’re talking about influence. In fact, the very core of our entire program is about influence rather than power and authority, common ownership rather than one person’s vision, prioritizing highest kingdom potential rather than production, and prioritizing relationships rather than results. We are not talking about usurping the role of men in the church. Neither are we talking about headship in the context of a marriage. No, we are talking about women being influencers in our communities with Jesus as the ultimate example.
It can’t get more transformational than that.
We call our organization “Freedom to Lead International” not just because it’s a catchy title. We gave it this name because we want to give men – and women – the freedom to lead in order to reach their highest Kingdom potential. Jesus came to set all of us free in our lives and ministry.
In future blog posts I’d like to unpack what all this might look as we begin a Women’s Initiative with Freedom to Lead.
But first, I’d like to invite you to pray.
Will you pray with us? Will you join hands with us here at Freedom to Lead as we approach the King of Kings to ask Him how we can come alongside women in life and leadership?