Christian women have been shamed into a corner. Many have bought the lie that they are the second sex—they do not matter and they are not gifted, at least not in the ways that matter most. They got the message that they need to limit their horizons, temper their ambitions. They are leaving.
Research shows not only are there are less women in church, there are less women going to seminary. Women’s advancement in leadership has altogether stalled, right along with the wage gap. Women, especially Millennial women, see this lack of progress and start to wonder if leadership is even worth it. So they look for “the good life” elsewhere. As the French say, “Ça ne vaut pas la peine.” It is not worth the pain.
It isn’t enough for me to simply tell you the stories of Christian women who are daring mighty things and outline the challenges you will face, so let me tell you this:
Your life matters.
Like Roosevelt said, we can learn from our ancestors, from Christian women who dared mighty things and brought about massive cultural reform. It was not too long ago that women in the nineteenth century, women with far more limitations than we have today, worked to abolish slavery, alcoholism, poverty, illiteracy. They created legislation to prevent women from being sexually exploited by men, built homes to keep them safe, and provided aid to immigrants.
You are gifted and called.
The Lord can do more than you can possibly imagine through your life.
You are needed.
The same problems that confronted the women of the nineteenth century confront us today. Women are still exploited by men. Slavery is not abolished for all. Fifteen million children go to bed hungry every night in America alone. We can find the good life by daring mighty things, by overcoming our personal challenges in order to make a good life for others.
God is working through Christian women. The first challenge for most Christian women? Believing you are a leader at all. Believing you have gifts. Believing that God wants to use your life as a force for good.
Not every woman is called to be a pastor, a minister, or a CEO of a non-profit. Some women are called to lead in other ways—leading an at-home Bible study, starting a food pantry at their church—but these women are leaders, too, and their contributions have been minimized for far too long.
Sometimes the mightiest thing you can do is to do that which seems very small.
Dare to dream big dreams.
Dare to believe that you can make a difference.
Dare to believe that overcoming obstacles and facing challenges is worthwhile.
Women have overcome them before; all you have to do is dare to believe that you can too. That is where you start.
Halee Gray Scott, Ph.D. is an author, scholar and global leadership consultant focusing on leadership development and strategic planning based on original research. This post is an excerpt from her newest book, Dare Mighty Things: Mapping the challenges of leadership for Christian Women (Zondervan 2014).