Sometimes women will ask the question, "How do I know if I am a leader?" My response is normally a combination of discussing their purpose, vocation, and calling, along with their passions and influence. The gift of leadership is also affirmed by a healthy community.
I was blessed to have my leadership gifts affirmed early in life. I gave a speech and was voted Student Body President in the eighth grade. I spent the next four years of high school lending a voice to the issues of my classmates, organizing community service projects, motivating the members of my track team, and gaining the respect of administrators, teachers, and peers. I ran a successful campaign and was voted Student Body President again during my senior year of high school.
This foundation of leadership led me to attend the United States Naval Academy, followed by six years of service as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. I also became a leader and trusted mentor in the professional arena. During those formative years of leadership in the military, I also became a wife and a mother, while serving as a mentor, small group leader, and Bible teacher in my church. In the midst of all this leadership training, I realized many voices were speaking into my life about women and their call to lead, except one critical voice: The church.
Wrestling with gender and leadership
Thankfully, my need to wrestle with the challenges and tension of women and their call to leadership from a biblical perspective was met by several devout Christians I encountered during my time in the military and professional worlds. Discussion has also been vibrant during my time as a student at Gordon-Conwell seminary, where I will receive a master's in Christian Leadership next May. As part of my program, I read a lot of books about leadership, most of them written by men. I was excited when I finally took the opportunity to read a leadership book by a woman—Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.1