For centuries many women have faced challenges, discrimination, and even death all in pursuit to minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Through the testimonies of trailblazers who have gone before us, I am encouraged and reminded that it is Jesus Christ Himself who has personally called all women to ministry, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Nevertheless, women today will not be immune from some of the same challenges women faced in the past. Perhaps one of the most pressing challenges women in ministry face today is linked to the role of women in ministry. Unfortunately, many Christian men and women are still unclear on what women can or cannot do in ministry. This one issue has enormous implications for the Body of Christ as it relates to bringing the lost into the kingdom of God, not allowing women to use their spiritual gifts, and thwarting the call and commandment given equally to women by Jesus Christ.
To gain an understanding of the role of women in ministry, one must first look into the Word of God. As I began studying women of the Bible, I was encouraged and excited to learn how God has used many women in different ministry roles throughout scripture. From examples of women of the Old to the New Testament, we today in ministry have a responsibility not to allow their legacies to become lost. For it is by their examples, that we first have been able to understand our calling by the same Lord who called them.
I love the story in John 4 of the Samaritan woman at the well. It was to this woman Christ first revealed that He was the Messiah. In doing this, Jesus not only transcended racial and ethnic lines, but gender lines as well. Upon hearing the news, verse 28 says she went into the city and “testified to the men” about the Messiah, and in verse 39, “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified.” Christ revealed Himself to this woman at the well first, and He has continued to reveal Himself to women to this present age. Surely we have a role in ministry, which includes women ministering to men. Like the woman at the well, women today must testify and tell others about the Christ revealed to them.
Despite Christ’s affirmation for the role of women in ministry, there are still skeptics, and the question still remains, “How can we overcome this challenge?” May I suggest another question we all should be asking, which is, “How then shall we as women minister?” I believe we should be asking this question because the unfortunate truth is that there will always be challenges in ministry, regardless of gender. Women do not need anyone else to affirm them for ministry; God has already given us His high mark of approval! Therefore, we need to be asking the Lord, “How would you have me to minister? How can I be used as your vessel? How may I serve in your kingdom agenda?” I sincerely believe it will be through humility that Christ will raise up women to be used by Him in ministry. In Matthew 20:26-28 we learn from Christ that whoever wants to be become great must be a servant…and “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Christ is the standard, and Christ is the answer to overcome this challenge and the many other challenges women in ministry will face in the future. The goal in overcoming the challenge of the role of women in ministry should be to avoid divisiveness within the Body by taking on humility.
In Acts 1:8, Christ says that it will be by power of the Holy Spirit that we will be His witnesses…to the “remotest part of the earth.” We shall overcome…but not by any works of ourselves, but by the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is my prayer that together, women and men in ministry would press forward under the one banner of Christ’s love and enablement of the Holy Spirit.