It would be fair to say that I grew up inheriting a complementarian theology when it came to the role of women in the Kingdom. But in recent years, through further reading, discussion and study I have become convinced that women with a leadership gift should be able to thrive in any leadership role – and that we need more role models doing just that to inspire the rising generation.
But turning that belief in to practice hasn’t always been easy.
How do you avoid being seen as tokenistic?
What do you do when you invite a woman to lead only to have her decline the position?
In moving forward I’ve found the following three principals helpful in considering people for leadership responsibility.
1. Spiritual maturity – recognizing Christ-like character
2. Fitness for purpose – recognizing undeniable God-given gifting
3. Equal opportunity – recognizing that leadership is by gifting, not gender related
Within Urban Saints this has meant that we have been proactively committed to ensure that there are female leaders on our Trustee Board, Leadership Team, and Management. Within the local church I pastor, this means that we have been proactively committed to ensure that there are female leaders serving on our Eldership, Diaconate and Leadership Team. Within other ministries initiatives that I lead (e.g. the Youthwork Summit) this means that the organizing team are striving to reach the goal of 50% of the speakers being female.
In all these areas, the female leaders who serve have not been selected as some tokenistic exercise to make up the numbers. We thank God for them because of the gift they are to that ministry in terms of their love for Christ and passion to use their gifts to serve Him. Does this mean that we have positively discriminated against men? No! I feel blessed that God – who knows our heart – has connected us with wonderful men and women who can serve together in leadership teams. God has helped open the doors and we have trusted Him for the right person at the right time in the right role.