If we begin with Proverbs 31, continue through the Gospels and the heart of Jesus, immerse ourselves in the Acts of Holy Spirit and read from that context what Paul clarifies in discussions of kingdom culture, we arrive at this conclusion: Jesus wants women in ministry leadership.
Women will be treated differently from men in leadership because they are women. Kingdom culture still provides that men protect women, honor them as weaker vessels, and respond to them as sisters and mothers. Feminity does not diminish with a female in leadership function. Rather, “women in leadership” brings the feminine side of things into leadership, creating a healthy fullness of the image of God.
1. Women do not become men in order to lead.
This issue may be the defining point of the discussion. That is, women maintain all the roles of women designed and defined by the King for lifestyle and culture. They do not become men. They do not take the place of men. They do not become manly. They do not acquire a different role by anointing or assignment.
They do not order their families or husbands in their home by a new order: “I am the apostle of the ministry so I tell my husband what to do at home.” (That is dysfunctional to the point of pretense and rebellion against God’s established order for marriage and family.) The order God designs and defines for husband and wife provides no sacrifice for the altar of ministry. The call to ministry does not mean someone else will rear a leader’s children. Ministry leadership does not diminish the responsibilities of a called leader to kingdom culture principles, processes, and protocols. While ministry leaders offer the temptation of becoming the exception to the rule, the temptation comes from hell, not God.
Kingdom leaders often delude themselves into thinking that God will rear their children and take care of their spouse since they are OCD about ministry. When they get more reinforcement and identity from ministry than marriage, they will jump to the conclusion that God wants it that way and the spouse and children are the problems. They are as wrong as the devil in hell about that, but they cling to the delusion. In fact, failure in marriage and parenting sometimes leads ministry leaders to desire ministry as a place to show personal worth because they refuse to prioritize marriage and family.
While we know Paul says he refuses marriage because of his assignment, we find nothing in the Bible to discourage marriage, deflate marriage, or make the unmarried person more holy or committed to ministry. The “higher calling” claim for the unmarried is not a Bible idea. Marriage and parenting remain kingdom culture norms.
A woman taking on mannish characteristics to reveal herself a leader is out of order because she attempts to set a new order or reorder the culture of the kingdom. (Of course, the opposite is true of a man who wishes to avoid his masculine role or responsibilities.)
2. Women can fill any of the kingdom leadership dynamics as eldering leaders.
They can be shepherds, evangels, teachers, prophets, and apostles. They remain identifiably female in the style and role of their leadership. The manner in which they interact with other kingdom leaders must be consistent with the manner in which any woman interacts with men.
The strength of marriage remains vital and a poor marriage relationship is a diminishing factor to kingdom leadership for any kingdom leader. That means a spouse can torpedo a man or woman in terms of kingdom leadership because an unhealthy marriage is inescapably diminishing to the leadership role of a kingdom leader within kingdom culture.
We can discuss “patriarchal systems” all day but the discussion within itself does little to help the issue. The reality of the issues that set what is appropriate comes from kingdom culture. It is the fact that we have lost kingdom culture that drives our dysfunction. Restoring kingdom culture resolves the majority of the issue in terms of setting the principles, processes, and protocols by which we govern relational dynamics.
3. Women can preach, teach, prophesy, set order, and give orders.
They cannot usurp. (Neither can men.) We have lost kingdom culture and we do not know we have lost it. Therefore, we struggle with our roles and responsibilities. We do not have the proper relational matrix by which to recognize the obvious.
The King calls, anoints, gifts, and directs women into leadership. He does so without damage to His cultural principles, processes, and protocols. The King never sacrifices His foundations to accommodate dysfunction.
He will not destroy a marriage to preserve a ministry. Better the ministry fails than the marriage of its leaders. In reality, He can build an Ecclesia with kingdom leaders any time or place he wants. What He cannot do is build an authentic Ecclesia outside a kingdom culture.
We have continually missed these vitals points in our worship of our own church-anity and church-growthism. Some of our champions have shown us a terrible example. We would be better off without the leadership of men and women who sacrifice kingdom culture for the supposed good of massive ministries.
We can easily live without a good preacher or teacher. We have an entire kingdom of them. We can never influence the world without authentic kingdom culture.
We should understand the role of leaders in this context and the leadership of women and men in the same ways. Attending a ministry led by someone whose marriage has failed – and that would have significant “female leadership” implications because of the role of women in marriage, family, and culture – seldom ends up producing anything other than kingdom confusion.
4. Women leading men in ministry.
If a woman is a ministry leader, she will lead men. She will not have a ministry of women only if our initial premise is correct. Women can be apostles, prophets, teachers, shepherds, and evangels. So, they will lead men. We are not accepting the idea that a woman can only lead women. So, we are expecting men to come into alignment with women who have a metron greater than men.
We know this challenges the existing culture on many fronts. We know this challenges entrenched patriarchal systems as old as Creation heaven. We should realize this is a healthy challenge. We should learn from that challenge instead of wrestling with that challenge.
What I mean is this: women are different, so the leadership of women will be different. “Women as leaders” will be different. It will not be the same as “men as leaders.” Women will not be treated the same, being leaders, as men, being leaders. As Paul points out, men will tend to respond to women as leaders based upon Creation design and definition.
If we appropriate the principles of what Paul tells Timothy for our discussion, we have “treat eldering men as fathers, younger men as brothers, younger women as sisters, and mature women as mothers.” Paul is speaking to Timothy of the overarching themes of kingdom culture with respect to gender that are not erased because Timothy is a kingdom leader.
We could apply this as “women in leadership” are treated with the sister and mother response, not the father and brother response. We have Bible mandate or idea to change that to create a new order for “women in leadership.” In fact, we are having this discussion because “women in leadership” is different from “men in leadership.”
The point is not that the resume of an apostle is different for a man or woman in terms of the “apostle is as apostle does” aspect of apostolic ministry. The point is that the personality of the apostle always paints the leadership with a style, and the “women as leaders” style will be feminine.
While we can say, “Women in leadership need fathering leaders to bring the masculine side into the equation, we should just as quickly say that men in leadership need women who father (some say “mother”) to bring the feminine side into the equation.” We do not need a “woman as” apostles or prophets order of leadership! We need a blend of genders that operates to reveal the entire image of God. We should avoid the idea that a meeting of kingdom leaders who are men should be exclusive to men or a meeting of kingdom leaders who are women should be exclusive to women. We should ask ourselves why we have a separate order for kingdom leadership targeting women and women as leaders in the first place.
We should have apostles, prophets, teachers, evangels, and shepherds. They should train together. They should minister together. They should maintain gender roles that bring both aspects of God’s image in man into the leadership of the kingdom.