The restrictions imposed by holy scripture upon the ministry of women in the church of Jesus Christ should not be seen as fetters that bind but as God-given boundaries that help to channel them into areas of service for which they are suited and in which they excel.
The apostle Paul expressed his desire that godly women would devote themselves to good works, and later in the same letter he specifies that these include, but are not limited to, hospitality to strangers, acts of kindness, and the relief of the afflicted. Tabitha (Dorcas) was full of good works, making clothes and giving to the poor (Acts 9: 36,39). Women were the first to announce the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, and may excel in the ministry of evangelism, and in the healing and deliverance ministries. 1 Timothy 3:11 may refer to a class of women complementary to the male deacons, and their role may have been to visit women in their homes, pray with them, and disciple them. Older women are to train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be prudent, pure, and good, and submit to their own husbands. They are to work in the home and rule their own households and they are not restricted to the home but may be sent out into the community or into the nations. Hallelujah, the Spirit of the Lord is being poured out in these last days and both men and women will prophesy. Authority is given to the woman who covers her head in prayer, and in Christ there is neither male or female, so all may speak the word of the Lord and pray for the revival we desperately need. The glory of the Lord will be seen in His church again, and the Lord will take a pure and holy bride for Himself at His coming. To Him be all the glory and praise as we seek His face for His perfect pattern for His church, and for the ministry of men and women with it.
‘Releasing into ministry’ implies being set free from a place of bondage or captivity into a place of freedom to use the gifts that God has given us to serve others. Many women in the church are desperately wanting to be ‘useful’ in and for the Kingdom of God. Their gifts are certainly needed, both in the church and in the world. Some resign themselves to secular jobs that are neither fulfilling or life-giving, which take their energies so that they are unable to give of themselves in other areas such as hospitality or visiting the lonely or prayer. Some ‘take matters into their own hands’ and choose one of the established roles that are immediately ‘on offer’ by the church. This might include training as a vicar or pastor as this appears to be the ‘natural’ solution but in reality does not fulfil our true calling as women and is not God-given. The man-made ways often prove easier to fulfil than the biblical ways. Waiting for the opportunity to be given an appropriate role can be arduous and painful, and some can be deceived into believing they are suited in one particular area when the Lord would have them in another. The way that leads to life is hard and the entrance to it is narrow.
We may need to think creatively to fulfil our callings, and courageously by taking a journey of faith into them. God may work things out in the most ordinary or unusual and at first, unseen ways. There is need for discernment in the body to recognise the true qualities and gifts in an individual and to help release them to serve the Lord. When there appears to be no opening or answer, we need to cry out in prayer for His solution and be willing to walk in it. May He give us the grace to tread this narrow path and the disposition to die to self and ambition in order to live for His purposes and glory…and thereby find life.