Women in God’s Mission

“Women have advanced God’s mission throughout history and around the world. But women often face particular obstacles in ministry. What do we need to know about how women thrive?” So begins the InterVarsity Press web introduction to a new book by Dr. Mary Lederleitner, Women in God’s Mission: Accepting the Invitation to Serve and Lead.

This fascinating book tells stories of respected women leaders from around the world. It is an honest look at the styles, passions, and challenges faced by women in leadership. Over 90 women in approximately 30 nations were interviewed for this project. While their identities have been protected, the stories are universal. Lederleitner explores how the leadership of women is different, how women connect, and how they persevere.

Women in God’s Mission tells of women who have experienced a call from God, often a very unexpected call to leadership. There is much in the way of practical leadership wisdom that the women of this book share and that I appreciated deeply. Many of the women interviewed lead ministries that are often to “the least of these.” Ministries to people who are homeless, poor, trafficking victims, in need of health care, education, and much more have been led by women to the glory of God. This is cause for celebration.

Of particular note to me was the gracious way many women leaders have chosen to respond to gender bias. Lederleitner says. “In my research I have been astounded by this: when women encountering difficult gender hurdles choose forgiveness over bitterness, God finds ways around the hurdles and often gives them more influence than if the original door they had sought had been open to them.”

Women in God’s Mission was a Christmas gift and has prompted me to reflect on nearly 30 years of denominational service. While I have been blessed with good relationships in my leadership roles, the book is a reminder that there are still challenging issues at times. As I have wrestled with a response to the book and the issue of gender bias, it seems to me that the roadblocks women have encountered are actually tools God has used to direct us to meet needs that otherwise would be overlooked. The body of Christ must have every member functioning well to accomplish all that He wants to do. This includes women in leadership and missions.

I am grateful to Woman’s Missionary Union for encouraging and training women, including me. I am grateful for the lessons learned and the affirmation that I received to follow God’s calling on my life. I am grateful that WMU helps women reach out and meet needs around the world. There are many who will never hear the gospel unless a woman bears the message. There are children who will never be taught what it means to be part of the mission of God unless women teach them. There are missionaries who will miss out on prayer and financial support unless women step up. Even in the ministry of Jesus, the financial support of women was noted. (See Luke 8:1-3.)

Women in God’s Mission is a worthwhile read for both men and women. Readers may not agree with all of the roles and examples of women in leadership cited, but regardless, will be challenged to think about important issues. May this book open doors for dialogue that we might more faithfully serve Christ’s mission, bringing many sons and daughters to faith around the world.

Women in God’s Mission
Published by InterVarsity Press, 2018

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