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A Biblical Framework for Women in Church Leadership Roles

A Biblical Framework for Women in Church Leadership Roles

Now That I’m Called: A Guide for Women Discerning a Call to MinistryRegardless of what your opinion may be about women filling positions of leadership in the church, Jesus spoke of several women who played important roles in spreading the gospel message. The following article is an excerpt from the new book Now That I’m Called: A Guide for Women Discerning a Call to Ministry by Kristen Padilla. Her book provides women with a biblical, theological, and practical framework to process their calling and prepare them for full-time ministry.

Wondering if God is calling call you to vocational ministry? Find clarity in these two biblical steps adapted from Padilla’s book Now That I’m Called.

First, go forth in prayer. Jesus’ ministry was marked by prayer. He often withdrew by himself to pray (Luke 5:16). Jesus prays before miracles, such as the feeding of the five thousand (Matt. 14:19) and raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41–42). His greatest test—his betrayal and death on a cross—was bathed in prayer. Jesus prayed in the garden; he prayed on the cross. He very likely prayed every step of the way. Jesus also taught his disciples how to pray (Matt. 6:9–13) and later urged them to pray so that they would not fall into temptation (Matt. 26:41).

Prayer is not a suggestion, an add-on, or a recommendation. Prayer is a command from Jesus himself. It is also a right, a privilege, a blessing, and a necessity for a Christian ministry. Prayer brings us into the royal court of our triune God. If you want to have a ministry that mirrors Jesus’ ministry, then prayer must be an essential component. Our ministries and our faith won’t survive without prayer. But even when we don’t know how to pray or what to pray, he is faithful to help us when we ask.

Second, go forth in trust and obedience. Jesus teaches us that our Father is good and trustworthy. Everything I have said in this book boils down to the goodness and sovereignty of God over our calls and ministries. Trust him to see the call he has given you through to its completion. Obey him, even if obedience is difficult and you don’t understand why. Depend on him, fully trusting in the truth that God loves you and wants to involve you in the work of ministry.

One day the King will return and set everything right. There will be no need for stewards of God’s people “for the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17 ESV). Do you catch the irony in this statement? Jesus, the Lamb, will be the shepherd. Lambs aren’t shepherds; they are shepherded! Here, again, Jesus is flipping the world upside down. The sacrificial lamb will be the shepherd of all people. He is our redemption and our God.

In Revelation 19, John sees a vision of a wedding between the Lamb and his bride. Who is his bride? The redeemed people of God—men and women. Whereas God’s story and our story began in a garden, it now ends with a wedding in a city. Men and women, once again, are serving side by side as worshippers (Rev. 7:9–14) and as priests ministering, this time to their husband, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Men and women together become the bride submitting to their husband (Rev. 19:6–9).

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matt. 9:37). Many people have yet to hear the good news of Jesus Christ, and many in the church have yet to be discipled! There’s work to be done, and if God is tenderizing your heart, calling you to be his ambassador, serving on his behalf for his people, then go! Get prepared for the long journey ahead in such a way that you will last until the end. And remember that God is the author and finisher of your faith and ministry. He holds you. He is with you.

On the pulpit at my church is a plaque that reads, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). Because of how the plaque is placed, every minister who stands in that pulpit touches it while he or she preaches. It is there as a reminder that the minister’s job is not to tell stories or jokes or good moral points; it is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. My prayer and charge for you is that your ministry will be marked by, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Preach the good news of Jesus Christ. By your life and doctrine, proclaim him as Savior.

And when you are done serving him in this world, the words you will have waited to hear, will come because of who he is for us and what he has done through us: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21)

Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

— Kristen Padilla, Now That I’m Called: A Guide for Women Discerning a Call to Ministry

How to Use This Book

Are women in your church feeling the Holy Spirit leading them toward vocational ministry—gospel ministry—but they’re unsure of what this means or if they’re hearing the voice of the Lord correctly? This book will help women find wise guidance, and preparation for ministry, as they walk down this new and unfamiliar path.

Author Kristen Padilla answers these questions:

  • Can I, as a woman, be called to gospel ministry?
  • What is the difference between spiritual gifts and ministerial roles within the church?
  • What if I feel called to ministry but do not know what type of ministry?
  • And more

Michael Bird says, “This is the exact book that I have always wanted to give to my female students… This is simply mandatory reading for anyone contemplating going to seminary or engaging in ministry.”

Pick up copies of Now That I’m Called for women in your church today.