Spirit-Led Woman

Want to receive SpiritLed Woman by email? Sign up here
Bo Stern
Bo Stern is a teaching pastor at Westside Church in Bend, Ore.

The SpiritLed Woman podcast is empowering women weekly to follow their purpose in Christ and boldly walk in faith. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.

Way back when I was young and nimble-minded, I wrote a college paper on why women should not speak, teach or preach to men in church. Doctrinally, it was a wide-load philosophy built entirely on the spindly shoulders of 1 Timothy 2:12. Emotionally, it was fueled by a determined resistance to the growing tide of feminism, which seemed to be crushing femininity as it rolled through my generation.

I’ll also add that I wrote the paper during a frantic, caffeine-fueled all-nighter that probably included more accidental dozing than actual studying. My point is: I didn’t do the work to prove my point, and I didn’t really feel I needed to because I wanted to be a lawyer and not a pastor. I didn’t need a theological construct to become an attorney, so I threw together a reactionary position paper using poorly developed hermeneutics and a fair number of impressively astute words. (Sometimes that’s all you need to land a B+.)

Today I am a pastor on staff at a large, respected church. In fact, I am a teaching pastor charged with oversight of the scope and sequence of our churchwide discipleship continuum. Our lead pastor directs the planning of our corporate messages, but I am a voice at the table and from the platform, regularly teaching both the men and women during our four weekend services.

So what happened between paragraph one and paragraph two? Twenty years and so much learning happened. Some of the learning was experiential and some was intentional, but all of it has been both beautifully freeing and incredibly frustrating. (My husband, by the way, wrote his college paper on why women should be pastors, so he spent a lot of years waiting for me to catch up and demonstrated an annoying lack of angst about the whole issue.)

It started innocently enough, with one little character study on Peter. I remember goose bumps popping as the deeper truths of Peter's life jumped off the page and into my heart. I also remember discovering the works of old, dead theologians and weeping in the library as the timeless truth of their devotion to the Word of God pulsated through thick sentences, condensed and compacted by a lifetime of learning. I filled notebooks with brilliant quotes and bullet-pointed application and Greek and Hebrew etymology.

Finally, on a quiet Saturday, I placed a new legal pad on the table in front of me and, without knowing why, wrote out a sermon. I gathered my learning like soft yarn, weaving and crafting it into something I hoped would be a warm blanket for somebody somewhere, someday. It was not a small or safe decision. In fact, my heart raced as I did it, almost like sneaking into the men’s restroom and hoping not to get caught—and even as I write that, I know how ridiculous it probably sounds to you, dear reader.

The thing is, I knew I was opening my heart to this bold new idea that maybe—just maybe—God wanted to use my desire to argue a case somewhere other than a courtroom. This was very frightening because I still had the matter of my own theology to deal with, and also: Have you checked the want ads for female teaching positions in the church recently? Yeah. Dismal.

So, as I wrote out the points of that sermon on that brilliant Saturday, I was distinctly aware of two really big, really opposing issues brewing just beneath my legal pad: 1) Nothing in life could make me more happy or fulfilled than studying and teaching eternal truth, and 2) The chances of anyone ever letting me do this were slim to none.

In spite of the contrary nature of my calling, I pressed on. I kept writing messages, even though I couldn’t imagine ever having the chance to share them with anyone. And I dug deep into the issue of women in ministry leadership in the Bible.

I took a hard look at the prohibitions of Paul and weighed them next to the rest of his words about women, men and submission. I researched women like Miriam, Deborah, Esther, Huldah and Ruth. I even (fearfully) waded into the waters of Proverbs 31. And finally, I looked at the life of Jesus and His profound, revolutionary acceptance of women. I emerged from that study no longer wobbling, no longer wondering, but certain that women are qualified to lead, teach, preach, write, pastor, prophesy and pray out loud. Even in America.

My theology developed at the same time I did. We landed at a Foursquare church, where our lead pastor had not a single shred of hesitation about using a qualified woman in the pulpit. Some pastors talk a good game about permitting women to exercise their God-given gifts but never actually give them the chance to take a swing at the ball.

My pastor gave me the opportunity to fly, to fail and to grow as a communicator. Even though a handful of men stayed home or walked out when they found out I was speaking, he didn’t budge an inch from his determination to give women a voice in our community of faith. He consistently pointed out in meetings that for every man who stayed away when I spoke, plenty others invited their friends.

After 10 years on staff, few people question it any more. When they do, our standard response is to give them the research done by our denomination on women in ministry leadership and to remind them, “If you don’t agree with women teaching in church, you’ll have no problem finding a church in our city where they’ll never step foot on the stage.” This is a subject on which smart, godly people disagree, and that’s OK. There’s a church for every mindset.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was the first Hispanic pastor in history to pray at a presidential inauguration.

    At Trump Inauguration, Charismatic Leaders Pray Boldly in Jesus' Name. Is This Foreshadowing a New Day in America?

    It was an amazing day to let religious freedom ring in America.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what was going on!

    Jennifer LeClaire Releases Urgent Prophetic Warning Over Washington, D.C.

    When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what ...

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage?

    9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer

    A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple takes effort, and it's worth working for.

  • Churches don't address this topic affecting women.

    The Secret Sorrow Women Carry

    This woman breaks the silence about a taboo subject to help restore many women.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit