By Carolyn Custic James
Nancy Beach’s book Gifted to Lead opens with the story of a Q&A session where she was handed a scribbled note that read, “Help! I am a leader trapped inside a woman’s body.”
Not to minimize in any way the frustration expressed on that note, but the problem extends to every other segment of the female population. It gets worse. Being “trapped in a woman’s body” involves vastly greater numbers and more sinister outcomes, sweeping through every culture globally resulting in unspeakable atrocities and flagrant injustices that violate the human-rights sensibilities of the civilized world.
Today there is a growing consensus worldwide that the three deadliest words spoken are “It’s a girl.”
So as leaders, there’s too much at stake for us to be content with looking for answers only for ourselves. We need to know if the Bible’s message for women speaks with meaning and purpose into the lives of every woman and girl—those who have broken through glass ceilings as heads of state and corporate CEOs, those who have been trafficked and trampled, and everyone in between? Does that message affirm women in leadership roles and also dismantle the value system that results in atrocities against women? Is it indestructible and does it encompass all the days of our lives?
That quest drove me back to Genesis to the creation narrative where God is vision casting for his world—a text loaded with good news for women. Statements God makes about his daughters there not only dismantle the world’s way of viewing us, they take the value and purpose of God’s daughters into the stratosphere. I’m not kidding.
For example, right off the bat God bestows on us (along with our brothers) the exalted identity of bearing his image (Genesis 1:26-27)—a designation that comes with enormous privileges and responsibilities. This is not a static definition intended to distinguish us from plants and animals. God is assigning our mission.
It is an open invitation into a relationship with God—the lifelong pursuit to know who we are, why we are here, and how we are to live by knowing and loving him. It is a call to flourish—to develop and use all the good gifts God entrusts to us for the good of others and his world. It is a heavy responsibility—to speak and act for God. It is a glorious venture—to be agents in the grandest enterprise imaginable, the kingdom of God.
Abuses against women (against any human being) escalate to an affront to Almighty God whose image we all bear.
There’s more … much, much more. This barely scratches the surface. The conversation continues in Half the Church.
The good news is that a woman’s body is not a trap, but a marvelous bearer of God’s image, a builder of alliances with her brothers, and a fearsome warrior God has summoned to join the battle to crush serpentine heads (Genesis 3:15).
Carolyn Custis James is the President of whitbyforum.com, a speaker and the author of several books on the influence of women including Lost Women of the Bible, The Gospel of Ruth and Half the Church. Click here to buy now.