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Role Of Women In Church Leadership Religion Essay

Most of the Christian discourse on leadership is focused on individuals and in its understanding of power. This is due to the Church adopting the outside model when it comes down to issues of polity and structures. A business paradigm has come to dominate the Church.

True leadership is an attitude that inspires naturally and is motivational, and it comes from an internalised discovery of one’s self whose essence is not in techniques but in attitudes. It implies that leadership is not assigned to individual, but an innate desire which forms a way of living that suffices everything we are and do.

Walter C. Wright, in his book, “Relational Leadership” defined leadership as a relation in which one person seeks to influence the thoughts, behaviours, values and believes of another person”. It is transformational in nature. The leader invests in the growth and development of the subordinates.

Leadership is about servant-hood/stewardship, a position of responsibility and service, not status, power or gender.

Our Lord Jesus Christ exemplified what true Christian leadership is all about. He came to serve and not to rule. Jesus modelled leadership with one word- “Love”.

It is the most and fullest expression of our design as human beings created in the likeness and image of God; there is no single expression that is greater than this. Love speaks to the dignity of others and it’s not interested in hierarchy or organogram because a rule is a responsibility of actions, not a validation to be attained up a ladder, title or gender. Love is bent towards real change, listening and speaking to those who have no voice. It sees the image of God in everyone.

In the light of the above, can we ascribe leadership in the Church to a particular gender? What is the scripture saying concerning women and leadership in the Church?

A central statement bearing on the issue of leadership and gender is found in the book of 1st Timothy 2:12. In the context of instructions on leadership in the Church, Paul wrote: “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence”.

Some school of thought understands this instruction to specifically apply to the first century Ephesians’ church and not applicable to the twenty first century church. Others focus and interpret authority in the church as a reference to gender and human nature.

In the light of the above, I am going to focus on three schools of thought on this topic: the Egalitarianism, Complimentarianism and traditionalisms.

The Egalitarians consider the full equality of role relationship and functions within the leadership and ministry of the church. This opens up all functions in the church to women according to their giftedness, though this is advocated in line with cultural sensitivity and difference in local customs and traditions.

The complimentarians asserts the principle of male leadership or male spiritual leadership in terms of roles and functions. This group is open to more significant and visible participation by women in church activities, since not all leadership is a headship function.

The traditionalist asserts the principle of male or male spiritual leadership, and interprets this to mean that women are excluded from any voice or leadership function in the church.

Considering the account of the first creation in Gen. 1: 26-28; Adam which indicates humankind or humanity is considered male and female and is incomplete without male and female. Both constitute humanity in unity and diversity: male and female. They are the climax of God’s creation and shared the same identity and task in stewardship and procreation. They both participated in God’s work and are co-workers with God.

From this account, the Egalitarians assert that there is neither differentiation of roles nor any distinction except between male and female. All things are commonly shared in the account.

The complimentarians believes that male and female constitutes humanity {diversity in creation}, however, there is shared identity and task, there is nevertheless a diverse role in that shared task and identity. The most prominent being the role both play in procreation.

From the above, we can observe that neither male nor female find their value independent of the other, but in marriage relation or the larger community as singles. None of them have priority of or derive worth or value in their relationship with each other.

In Gen.2:15, 18-25; we can see mutuality stressed; man is not created to be lonely, but to dwell within the community with another that shares the same identity with him. The same bones and flesh {the woman came out of the man}. Thus a helper/partner fit for him, a companion not a slave who stands by him rather than beneath.

The lonely man finds oneness in relation to the woman, sharing the same human identity and dwell in transparency and intimacy with one another with out shame. Man moves from incompleteness to completeness {man and woman}.

The Egalitarians assert mutuality rather than hierarchy or role differentiation. Oneness and completeness is found in humanity relationship with each other as male and female.

The complementarians though stresses mutuality, but asserts the principle of primogeniture because man was created first, and the fact that man named the woman, woman’s status as helper, and her origin from man, makes man head of the woman.

In view of Apostle Paul’s application of the creation story in 1 Cor. 11:3-10, the Egalitarians emphasis that headship relates to origin rather than functions. They claim that just as Christ finds His origin in God and thus honour Him, so shall women honour men because they were created from man and for man {1Tim.2:13}.

The complimentarians share the same view with the Egalitarians, and that headship does not imply superiority or rank, but relates to function and roles.

The above discourse reflects our understanding of the relationship that exists between the Trinity; is it based on hierarchy where the Son is inferior to the Father, or a functional differentiation that is rooted in their nature with different functions but are yet equal in essence, or a mutually submissive nature that reflect equality in essence though they assume different roles?


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