It’s been almost twenty-five years since my husband, Albert, said those words to me on our wedding day, and I to him. But what we didn’t know that day was that his wife would be called to be a leader in the Body of Christ. Even more specifically, that his wife would one day grow up (okay, I’m not that old, but to be real, I was 21 when we got married!) and pursue becoming a licensed minister. And in recent weeks my eyes have been opened again to this ongoing tension in the Body of Christ – even in denominations that say “yes” to women in ministry – about just how confused many of us still are regarding women’s roles and whether or not God can really “call” a woman to be a pastor, leader, and what her spheres of influence should be.
So, this morning as I was chatting over breakfast with a couple of my leader friends, one of them suggested, after I shared with her part of my wedding vow, that that’s a good starting point for a blog series. And to be honest, I’ve never (I mean never!) written a paper or published any stance on women and leadership because I never wanted to be that woman. And by that woman, I mean the one who came from a place of “needing” to prove something or “needing” to make my voice heard because, especially in more recent years, I didn’t want to lose my ability to influence in a good way. To be fair, I’ve probably made some remarks along the way that haven’t gone over so well (forgive me if you’ve been on the receiving end of one, it probably came from a place of hurt), so over time I just tried to advocate for intentionality in choosing called people – both men and women. And, in more recent years, I’ve found myself seeking shared leadership opportunities because my starting point is that men and women were created to be God’s image-bearers and share God-given responsibilities.
Where did I get my beginning position that men and women were created as image-bearers and were to share God-given responsibilities? The Bible tells us the following:
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:26–28, NKJV)
Now before we jump to things like, “But Paul said_________,” can we just pause for a while and ask ourselves, what does it mean to be an image-bearer? What does it mean to be entrusted with God-given responsibilities? To have dominion over?And what did that responsibility originally look like? For the sake of journeying together, can I challenge you to go back and reread Genesis 1 and 2? And in the coming weeks as I journey this too (because I figure it’s about time I clearly lay out my position), I will be writing about my findings as I work my way through understanding God’s heart for me and the many other women out there who’ve wondered who they were and the purposes for which they were created.
And here’s my commitment to all of you: I promise to ALWAYS encourage you to develop the gift(s) that God has placed within you.
The Reverend Carmen Kampman is a woman on the road of leadership. Ordained with the PAOC, she is a steward of God’s call to women in ministry, and the founder of LEAD Women, a ministry equipping Christian women for leadership. She is also VP of Advancement at Horizon College & Seminary, and a graduate student in the Masters of Leadership program at Briercrest Seminary.