Mentoring Women in Ministry is designed to be a platform where daughters of a Great God come to find wisdom for each day. It is our desire to support and encourage one another in ministry. A place where women in ministry come to find a way to reconnect with God and find purpose and direction for their work in ministry as women to their families, to the body of Christ and to the world at large.
The Bible is our guide with the help of the Holy Spirit.
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Women in Ministry – Pre-Christ till Now
The role of women in ministry is an area of controversy that is still breeding conflicts in the body of Christ till date. There are so many reasons why a lot of people, including the women themselves, disregard the place of a woman in ministry. Even with the resurrection of Jesus and the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28-29, on the day of Pentecost, many Christians still do not regard women as people ordained by God to minister to the needs of others especially that of the men. In spite of all the controversy, God still manifests himself through women, those who are humble enough to take off the chains of the law and walk into His redeeming grace that has restored them back to His original plan. It is high time the body of Christ recognize the fact that men and women alike both have an equal mandate to fulfill, to dominate and subdue the earth but how they carry out this assignment is different and complimentary to each other.
Women in Ministry before Christ
After the fall of man, the woman became subject to man and was forbidden to take leadership roles, having authority over the man. The old covenant had women unable to administer any of the ritual services of the Tabernacle or Temple yet, many women played significant roles in national, spiritual affairs of Israel. Women mostly served in a subservient role, but a number of women are mentioned as leaders.
Miriam was one of such women. The prophet Micah, tells us about God’s decision to choose her as one of the teams of leaders who lead the people of Israel out of captivity and into their freedom [Micah 6:4]. Miriam was a recognized prophetess and poet who labored for the people of Israel in her God-given role. Imperfect as she was, God used her mightily. She had a dark moment where she let her emotions control her, causing her to speak against her brother and fellow leader, Moses which made her become a leper. She was however restored to health and back to her position after her repentance.
Deborah was a prophetess and a judge, in spite of her call and position, she remained submissive to her husband, Lappidoth, and God who had given her the authority. She led the people of Israel into victory through Barak. She led the people gracefully and in total obedience to God’s Word. Barak who was the King at the time was so in awe of her leadership that he refused to go to battle without her presence, despite the consequences of his decision. [Judges 4: 8-9].
Another example was Esther. The book of Esther was not just about a Queen with influence, it was about a woman who understood her call, carried the burden of the people and used her position to fulfill God’s purpose, changing the status of the Jews. She was obedient to Mordecai, the father figure in her life, who mentored her in the way of the Lord.
Throughout the old testament scriptures, God used many women as vessels, some more silent than others. Hannah served in her own way by giving up that which she so longed for, her son, back to God. Obedience was the watchword.
Women Involved in Christ’s Ministry
Although Jesus chose only men as His apostles (Mark 3:13-19), and that is sometimes cited as a reason that only men should be appointed to church leadership roles, Jesus Christ understood the role of women in ministry. He had a number of women among His bigger circle of disciples. He did not consider them as insignificant, rather, He ministered to them and they remained faithful to Him even after the victorious end of His ministry.
Mary Magdalene who used to be a prostitute and one possessed with seven demons [Luke 8:1-3], became one of the most influential women during the ministry of Christ after her encounter with Him. She was one of the women who stayed by His side up until His last breath even when His other disciples abandoned Him out of fear. She ministered to Jesus and His disciples, providing financial support to the ministry. She along with Joanna and Mary the mother of James followed Jesus throughout his time on earth. God used them mightily including Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus to cater for the needs to the needs of Jesus and His disciples. The woman by the well [John 4:1-30] was another great woman who went on to testify to others, bringing a whole village to meet Jesus after her encounter with Him. Jesus did not condemn women in ministry which was one of the reasons the Pharisees and Sadducees hated Him. He set the tone for the Gospel restoration in His treatment and exaltation of women, by delivering those he came in contact with and pointing them back to God’s original plan “from the beginning” [Gen 1:26-28].
Women in Ministry after Christ
The new covenant came with an entirely different game plan, grace! The veil had been torn and all that was preventing the people from having direct access to God was removed. During this time, there were so many women who walked in this grace and gained their freedom. They engaged in significant ministry, performing valuable service, not minding how difficult the situation was. This is readily seen in the Acts of the Apostles.
Priscilla, the wife of Aquila was one of the women who understood her ministry. Together with her husband, they led souls to Christ and tirelessly labored in love for the apostles. They spoke privately to Apollos at Ephesus [Acts 18:24-26], correcting his incomplete and flawed message. They also hosted fellowship in their home and served as pastors and teachers of the Word. Other women clearly played a significant role in the work of the Apostle Paul. Paul identified sixteen significant helpers in ministry [Romans16:1-16], and at least ten of them were women while writing to the church in Rome. Lydia, Euodia, and Syntyche labored in love for the church at Philippi [Acts 16:13-15, Phil. 4:2-3]. Although Paul mentioned some things in his letters to the church in Corinth [1st Cor 14:34] and Ephesus [1st Timothy 2:11-15] that forbids women to participate in ministry, I believe his intent has been greatly misunderstood. Paul addressed the matter with regard to the happenings in the church at the time, to the women and men alike who were struggling with the negative effects of the fall and who were still yet to grasp the significance of what Jesus did on the cross. Gal 3:28 had Paul saying this, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ.” The Holy Spirit used him to address our spirit-man, the one living inside the body of the male and female. Anyone who walks in the Spirit is not held bound by the Law. The curse is broken. We need to stop living in the past, the chains of the law and stop trying to put God in a box. God’s ways are totally from ours and so are His thoughts. God will use anyone that has made himself or herself available to be used by him.
As a woman, I have been influenced by many women in my life. Some of them have roles and positions and others do not. And so with this, I have come to a conclusion that no matter what, whether given roles, positions or not, women influence. They can use their God-given gifts in different ways. In most cases, females can be more emotional than males. The way a woman chooses to use her God-given power is very important. When the purpose of something is unknown, abuse is inevitable. The purpose for the influence is not for manipulation but to be used as our own unique way of leading and serving. Eve may not have fully understood her position and influence as a woman, hence the fall. Same goes for Delilah, Jezebel and all other people who could have been great instruments of peace but ended up being tools for a destruction. A woman, no matter how spirit-filled she is, must cultivate self-control; not letting her emotions control her but yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit for direction and help.
This is how women in ministry can be most effective and become the great vessels, fit for the Master’s use.
God bless you