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Bible women teach about leadership

Jesus speaks with tow women, Mary and her sister Martha

This episode of Leading Ideas Talks features a conversation with Carla Works about the leadership lessons inspired by biblical women.

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership hosts a series of podcasts called, Leading Ideas Talks. In Episode 37 Ann Michael interviews Carla Works. Both women teach at Wesley Theological Seminary. Carla is Associate Professor in New Testament at the school. Her research interests include Pauline studies, the New Testament’s use of Israel’s scriptures, biblical ethics, and theological interpretation. Her conversation with Ann, however, focuses on what women of the Bible teach about leadership.

Here is a brief excerpt … 

Ann: I have always been particularly interested in women characters in the Bible. And I think it’s true of a lot of other women I know, as well. And yet I have also found that it is unhelpful and in a way insidious when we assume that women Christians need to look only to women figures in the Bible for their example and men need to look only to the men. I was taking a class once at another seminary where many of my classmates happen to be from more conservative traditions. And in fact, I was the only women in the class, which was strange to me. And the instructor as an icebreaker had us all go around the room and name who our biblical hero was. And so, when it got to my turn, I said “Paul.” Who else would I say? You would have thought I stood in front of the room and took my clothes off, the instructor was so shocked. I mean, I think I was supposed to say Esther or Ruth or something like that. To the man’s credit, after he put his jaw back up into his face, he thought about it, and he said, “Oh yeah, that’s okay. It’s okay to have a cross-gender hero.”

Carla: Oh, he actually said that?

Ann: He did say it. But the fact that he said it made me realize that I had totally, totally shocked him by naming a man as my Biblical hero. And so, that experience really made me think about the fact that we do really assume that women can’t learn from the example of men’s leadership in the Bible. And we think that men can’t learn from the example of women’s leadership in the Bibles. So, I wanted to put that to you as a question, and think about how can women learn from the example of men’s leadership? But maybe also, how can men learn from the example women’s leadership in the Bible?

Carla: I think, being a female myself, and as my students all know, a female who loves Paul, I applaud your answer. To me it’s sort of natural and easier to learn from men and the leadership of men in the Bible because there is just so much more information about them. But I understand your question and where that whole expectation comes from even.

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