Women of Excellence in Ministry
It is our conviction that while men and women are equal in the sight of God, He has gifted each individual with spiritual and natural abilities as He has pleased. These gifts differ, as do personalities and the destinies which God has placed before them.
It will also serve as a reminder to women desiring to enter the ministry of their God-given privilege to "be all they can be," for the glory of God and the good of the Church. Currently, there are extensive examples of women effectively serving at the local church level as senior pastors, associate and assistant pastors, youth and Christian education ministers, council members, elders, deacons, teachers, prophets and administrators.
General Biblical Position
Miriam (Exodus 15:20, 21; Numbers 12:1-15; 20:1; 26:59; Deuteronomy 24:9) "I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam" (Micah 6:4).
Huldah (II Kings 22:14-20; II Chronicles 34:22-33)
The wife of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:3)
Anna (Luke 2:36)
Philip's four daughters (Acts 21:9) (I Corinthians 11:5)
Judges/Military Leaders Deborah (Judges 4-5)
Abigail (I Samuel 25:1-42; II Samuel 2:2)
Esther (Book of Esther)
Phoebe, deacon and minister (Romans 16:1-2)
Junia, apostle (Romans 16:7)
Priscilla, early church teacher (Acts 18:2, 24-26;
Romans 16:3; I Corinthians 16:19)
Euodia and Syntyche, preachers and co-workers with Paul (Philippians 4:2-3)
Unnamed intercessors and prophetic women (I Corinthians 11:2-16) Nympha, pastor (Colossians 4:15)
The Ministry of Jesus Certainly the words "subordinate" and "inferior' could well describe the cultural status of women during the time of Jesus.
Our Lord, however, by His teaching and actions, affirms the worth and value of women as persons to be included, along with men, in God's love and service.
Note these example of Jesus relating to women:
The woman at the well (John 4:4-42)
Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9)
The widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
The woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25-45)
Peter's mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39)
Jesus' teaching about "one flesh" (Matthew 19:3-9) Jesus' example of ministry to women shows that He received them, cared about them and had compassion on them. Jesus gives the same spiritual privileges to women that He gives to men. The gospel message elevates women along with men. Jesus also honored women by allowing them to minister to Him.
Mary anointed Jesus' head (John 12:1-8).
Jesus' feet were anointed by a sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50).
Women were followers of Jesus and ministered to Him (Luke 8:1-3).
Women stood at the foot of the Cross and remained there until His body was taken down (Mark 15:40-41, 47).
Women were first at the tomb on resurrection morning, for they had come to anoint His body for burial (Mark 16:1-3).
Women were first to give the message that Jesus is raised from the dead (Matthew 28:7-8). Jesus models the inclusion of women; His life and teaching powerfully affirm God's view of women.
Ministry of Women in the Early Church
The early Church included both men and women in membership and leadership ministry. There were women at the first early Church meeting (Acts 1:14-15 - most likely the women noted in Luke 8:1-3; 23:49,55; 24:10) where they waited for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:11
- There were women present at the Spirit's outpouring. Acts 2:17
- There is the prophecy about "daughters prophesying. Acts 9:36-41
- Tabitha (Dorcas), a devoted disciple, was raised from the dead. Acts 16:15; 18:1-3; 21:8-9; Philemon 22
- Hospitable women opened their homes to missionaries and as centers of outreaches. Acts 16:15, 40
- There were churches in women's homes. A text which gives validity to women in ministry is Joel 2:28, quoted in Acts 2:16-18, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophecy."
This text's encouragement of women to minister has served as a biblical basis for our own (and many other) denominations to include, rather than exclude, women from leadership ministry. Women are "the redeemed of the Lord," gifted and called to minister on His behalf. Neither a prophetic call nor the anointing of the Lord are based on gender, ethnicity or social class. God has poured out His Spirit upon all, and He is not a respecter of persons. In other nations hundreds of women also serve in Ephesians 4 giftings. It must be noted that not all women ministers serve as the primary overseer of a church or ministry.
Yet, the sheer number of women who have been credentialed reveals that women regard themselves as true ministers and leaders of the gospel in every way. They hold credentials because they currently do the work of the ministry and desire to minister in an even greater manner. They are not afraid to take on the burden of serving people, nor to call themselves leaders. In fact, it is quite common today to find couples who minister together, with the church recognizing them as co-pastors.
Women in ministry have made a significant contribution to global impact. Certainly, women have contributed greatly to the spread of the Gospel to the nations where it thrives today. Women have served diligently in fields all over the world, some alongside their husbands, and some whose husbands are not in vocational ministry. Un-married women have also served with distinction, including high profile positions in Bible colleges and Christian education. Each year, through missions teams, hundreds of women from churches minister in other countries as team members.
Currently, in many countries, women serve on national boards, as district supervisors and as pastors, teachers, prophets and evangelists (Ephesians 4:11). Cultural barriers to women in ministry are being addressed and women are being released to fulfill their God-given roles. They are exercising their Spirit-ordained gifts.
There are cultural issues associated with being a woman in ministry. Our commitment to the authority of Scripture and quality biblical interpretation requires that we attempt to define what is cultural and what is biblical. Women, like men, must be diligent to study the Scriptures and understand God's calling on their lives.
Rev. Dr. Ann Clayton
Stress Management for Women in Ministry
By Joann Butrin
If you are a woman in ministry, and the sensation of wanting to quietly slip out the back door of your life creeps up more often than the dandelions in your front yard, you should read this article. If you feel like PMS, pastoring, and pampers are synonymous, then it’s time for some action.
Stress is an inevitable part of most people’s lives; but add ministering to others, figuring out your role as a preacher, mother, wife, student, teacher, friend, confidante, and general fixer of all things, and you might qualify as a star scorer on the life-stress scale.
Stress can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, resentment, depression, anxiety, and ultimately burnout. Stress can take a toll, not only emotionally, but also physically, causing a host of symptoms such as high blood pressure, gastric ulcers, insomnia, headaches, and aches and pains related to muscle tension.
When pastors’ wives were asked to name the things that cause the most stress in their lives, the most common responses were: balancing the demands of the congregation with the responsibilities of raising children, being a supportive wife, keeping an organized household, and feeling guilty for not giving enough time for any of these roles. Other responses included: feeling frustrated at being relegated a lesser role while feeling the same call to ministry as one’s husband, feeling unappreciated in the support role of pastor’s wife, feeling drained by the constant schedule demands that go with ministry, and feeling isolated and alone due to taboos concerning friendships in the church.
Single women in ministry, though often not having the family pressures, feel they tend to over commit, then become burned out by too much of a load. Or they feel they are often asked or expected to do more than married women in ministry do because they don’t have family obligations. An increasing number of women today are serving in ministry leadership roles and face the challenge of juggling family responsibilities and ministry demands.
Some women expressed a need to work harder and do better to prove themselves worthy to minister in a traditionally male-dominated profession.
Despite the variety of stressors, a common theme throughout the questioning was that of guilt—guilt for harboring negative feelings about ministry and people demands; guilt for not being there for the children; guilt for feeling jealous of a husband’s freedom in ministry; guilt for not spending more time with the Lord.
A beginning point at bringing the effects of stress on your life under control is first identifying the three things that stress you the most. Once those are identified, look at them realistically. Writing them down is helpful. Some women found it difficult to figure out what it was that was stressing them—they just felt stressed. Working on something vague is tough, so make that list.
If guilt is number one, start by asking yourself, Is there really a reason for guilt, or is it self-imposed? We often put a lot of shoulds into our lives—carryovers from what society or our parents tell us is the right way to do things. If it is guilt over time not spent with your children, examine the time you do spend. Are there ways to make your time with them more meaningful? Can you arrange your schedule to be more available? Often kids just need to know you are nearby if they need you. If you are feeling guilty about negative feelings over the demands people place on you in your ministry role, examine why that is so. Are the people really being difficult or are there just too many demands coming at the same time?
Most ministers, regardless of gender, start off trying to be all things to all people. Experience usually proves that there are limits to what we can give. Set some boundaries for yourself. The best investment you might make is an answering machine to screen calls. Set up times when you will take calls and when you won’t. You may need to make your home off limits; and, if people wish to see you, set a day and time to be available at church. People and their needs can be draining of your time and your emotional energy, and setting boundaries as to how much you can handle is appropriate. Your husband may need to be the buffer between the church’s expectations and those of you and your family.
You need people in your life who will encourage you. Time spent with them leaves you feeling energized rather than drained. These are people with whom you have reciprocal time to talk about yourself as well as listen to them.
On the list of things that bring you the most stress, write in the three things that give you the most pleasure: lunch with a close friend, reading a novel, working in the garden, taking a walk alone, (Okay, so put the kids on their bikes to ride beside you. They’ll ignore you but consider it time spent together.)
Time management often goes a long way in reducing stress–a calendar/planner really does work. Even though schedules may go awry, arranging your time for an hour here or there just to do what you’ve written on your list is really important. Plan a date with your husband, even if it’s once in two weeks or once a month. Spend time anticipating it and planning to make it a special event. Write down the children’s activities and divide attendance and car-pooling responsibilities with your husband. Just writing these things in your schedule can often bring some order into the seeming chaos of your life.
Some authors suggest taking mini-vacations, which may be only brief mental or visual excursions to look at, savor, or mentally imagine something that brings joy and relaxation to an otherwise crazy day. Running through days with frenzied activity can cause us to miss much of what God has put around us to enjoy. Savor the moments, smell the roses, do more hugging. These can help relieve the stress and pressure of the day.
People in full-time ministry are often dealing with deadlines–articles to be written, sermons to be prepared, ceremonies to plan. Deadlines bring stress, but this kind of stress can often work in our favor. The pressure of having to get something done can cause adrenaline to flow and actually enhance our creativity. Even if the time is tight, scheduling, writing, and preparation time can reduce the stress so your day doesn’t end up being overloaded.
Most importantly, when writing out the day’s plan, a priority on the list is time spent with the Lord. The temptation to stay in bed a few extra minutes and have devotions later usually results in not getting to it at all. There is no better stress reducer than putting on some worship music, reading and meditating on Scripture, and talking with the Father.
If the screaming baby demands a quick jump-start in the morning, take a few minutes to drive by a lake or a place of beauty. Pull over and enjoy a few moments with the Savior. Let His presence flood your being, revive your spirit, and bring calm and peace to your outlook for the day.
Stress—there is plenty of it. Demands, schedules, deadlines, difficult situations, and people—like dandelions—will not go away while active in ministry. But dandelions can be kept at bay when we take measures to overcome them. We can reduce the effects of stress and even use it to make us more valuable to the ministry, to our families, and most importantly, to the Father.
Actively Pursue God
The demands of a growing ministry can become front and center in our lives. It is easy to postpone quiet times with God as we are engaged in ministry activities. We want to sharpen one another in our personal walk with God. We want to spur each other on in putting aside this meaningful task to take time to be face to face with our Lord.
Will Bruce, in Guidelines for Praying for Your Pastor states, “life’s pressures will always result in spiritual decline unless one is careful to maintain a close walk with the Lord.”
We all experience that decline from time to time as pressures mount in our individual lives. It is because we know this happens that we strive to encourage and build each other up. We know firsthand that we cannot expect to show Christ to others if we are not engaged in a growing relationship with Him ourselves.
“A wise and trusted teacher or guide” is the dictionary definition of a mentor. Mentoring tends to fall into two main categories.
Doing: Coming alongside someone to teach a skill or give guidance in the tangible things of life. It is usually definite and specific and often completed in a designated time frame.
Being: Coming alongside someone with material to guide them in growing in the intangible things of life, such as character development or spiritual truth.
This second approach is not so structured and may be a one time encounter or a sharing of the journey over time. Our main function is to encourage the person and to point them toward Jesus and the truth of God’s Word. God knows the details of that person's life and just how His Spirit is working to draw that her to Himself. He knows the articles and the resources that will meet that person just where she is. He will give you the ideas and the resources that will speak from His heart to the person's heart.
Our primary task in our ministry role is to stay in fresh relationship with our Lord. It is then that we will hear His still small voice of guidance and His words of wisdom and encouragement to pass on.
Staying fresh in our relationship with God is the key of being active in making small decisions during the day…decisions that draw us closer to God and to the freshness in our souls! We don’t intend for it to happen but somehow a passiveness creeps into busy Christians' lives. We do ministry, we pray on the run, we read when we get a minute, we encourage where we can, we slip our tithe in the offering…and we somehow slip into a passive relationship with Jesus. We expect Him to do the job of drawing near to us. We somehow begin to offer Him yesterday’s lunch and yet we long for a miracle today.
Take a moment right now and check your own life:
Do you long for a freshness you once knew in a way that you miss today?
Can you remember when the last time was that you spent more than 20 minutes in the presence of God?
Has your prayer time become a hurried list of things God needs to do for you, or have you taken time to ask Him what is on His heart lately?
God makes a promise: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) What do you need to do today, this week, to actively choose your relationship with Jesus over the many important and busy tasks that call for your attention? He longs to bring that freshness to your soul!
Make a choice to become active in pursuing God afresh. Actively choose to spend time in His presence, to expose yourself to music that inspires, to turn off the TV, to invite Him into every decision, to ask Him which fruit of the Spirit He wants to cultivate in your life today, to pray in a quiet corner and not just on the run, to listen for His voice, to read his Word and not just a devotional book, and to ask Him to teach you.
He will be true to His promise! He will come near and refresh your soul. Then you will once again have that fresh lunch to place in His hands to multiply and to work a miracle today
The Christian Counter