Our conference verse is Luke 9:23 – 24 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” What does it mean to deny self?
As believers, but specifically as pastors’ wives, we deny self how? We set aside our preferences to follow what God has for us. This may involve your location – your time – your health – your income – your privacy – your expectations – your activities – your ministry – your talents – your emotions – ultimately, your self….
My “self” may be highly trained, be gifted, may be expected to make a big splash in the world. Or my “self” may be untrained, unwell, shy, or feel unqualified.
The struggle is, not to avoid thinking too highly or too little of yourself, but not to think of yourself at all. Our focus should be on Christ and His power and His ability to work in and through us, and ultimately, His glory.
This year God has been teaching me John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Nothing! Yet we also know from Scriptures, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. Same result, different focus.
If I were to ask you, what would most people think are the qualifications for a pastor’s wife? Actually, nowhere in the Bible is a list or even a hint about “qualifications for a pastor’s wife.” The closest we get to that would be requirements for wives of other church leaders, for older and younger women, for the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.
Church leaders have to be hospitable which is hard to do in the home without the wife’s involvement, ( 1 Timothy 3:3) need to manage their own households well , so you need to be manageable (1 Timothy 3:4) and deacons are to have wives who are dignified, not gossips, temperate, and are faithful in all things, and so should pastors.
But this does not mean that pastor’s wives fit into any particular mold. The pastor’s wife is not the assistant pastor! She is the wife of her husband, who is called by God to be a pastor. You are first and primarily your husband’s wife. Other service and ministry in the church should be based on what is best for the body of Christ and what you husband and you decide together works right for your current ministry.
Yet God in His Word has some specific things to say about the role of women in general. So does society. We need to look at our views on this and line them up with Scripture. Are our ideas about women and their roles biblical or not?
Women’s Session 2 God’s Created Plan for Women: Helper
We live in a time when women are told “you can have it all,” need to “stand up for your rights,” are “equal to or better than” men, can “do anything a man can do and do it better.” Voices clamor for, even demand, “equality” in every area. Marriage is viewed as slavery, motherhood as entrapment and submission as domination. Media today elevates the liberated woman, belittles husbands and fathers and mocks anything that does not embrace the attitude of “do whatever makes YOU feel good.” Absolutes are presented as archaic and those who stand for traditional roles are decried as old fashioned, out of step with reality or holding back progress.
As Christian women, what is our response to these voices? Are we truly leading suppressed lives as believers in the 21st century? Do we, in fact, have the right to do what we want, when we want it? All of these questions revolve around “me,” what I want,” and “what I think.” What about what God thinks? Our creator-God makes it very clear from His Word to us, the Bible, what His created purpose is for women. Our thinking in this area needs to line up with God’s clearly stated purpose. As we examine the scriptures and read what God says about His role for women, won’t you pray that God will show you if your thinking in this area genuinely reflects His plan?
Goal: “to demonstrate from Genesis 1-3 that both male-female equality and male headship, properly defined, were instituted by God at creation and remain permanent, beneficent aspects of human existence.”
H – The Highlight of Creation: Genesis 1:26 – 28 (KJV)
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over… all the earth… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over …every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
- God made man in His image 1: 26
- God’s image in us includes personality. Men and women alike possess personality: intellect – thinking, emotion- feelings, and will-ability to choose.
- God made male and female. 1:27
- God gave man dominion or authority over the rest of creation. 1:28
The highlight of all God’s creation was the creation of mankind.
E – The End of Creation: Genesis 2:18-25 (KJV)
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (a helper suitable NASB; helper fit for him ESV) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Moses repeats the creation story in Genesis 2, but this time he includes more detail. Adam, the highest of God’s creations, formed in the image of God, was given the responsibility of naming all the other animals. Animal by animal, male and female, pair by pair they were paraded before him. He named them, ever watching for one to assuage his own aloneness. In working for God – Adam saw his own need for a counterpart. God himself performed sanctified surgery on the first man and from man’s rib created the first woman.
- God declared that man should not be alone. 2:18
- God gave Adam the job of naming the animals. 2:20
- Adam did not find a suitable helper. 2:20
- God created Adam from the dust of the ground, but He created Eve from Adam’s rib. 2:21-22
- God created woman as a helper to the man. 2:20
- The final act – the end – the finale – of creation was the creation of woman.
Christian women of the 21st century sometimes stumble at the idea of being a helper. We think of being a helper as being inferior. Men and women are equal in creation. Woman was made from man (from his side) and for man (as a helper.) She was alike in flesh, in speech, in intellectual capacity, yet different in form and function. Just because men and women are equal in creation does not mean their roles can be exchanged. God’s assigned responsibility for the man is leadership and for the woman is helper. This divine plan was established by God in the Garden of Eden BEFORE sin entered into the world. It is part of God’s perfect plan for mankind from the very beginning.
A shoe and a belt may both be made of the same amount, quality, and color of leather and may even come from the same animal hide, but that does not mean the shoe can function as a belt or the belt as a shoe. They are equal in substance but differ in function.
L – The Lessons of Creation 1 Timothy 2 and I Corinthians 11 (KJV)
I Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 7 the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
I Timothy 2:12-13 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp (teach or exercise ESV) authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
- Who was created first by God? Adam. I Tim 2:13
- What is the order of authority according to God’s plan? Man is the head of the woman, Christ is the head of man, and God is the head of Christ. I Cor 11:3
- God perfect plan requires that a woman not usurp authority over a man. I Tim 2:12 -13
- Galatians 3:23 reminds us that our differences in function do not make a difference in our salvation.
- Male leadership does not mean male domination.
- Female subordination does not mean we are all doormats!
Biblically, the woman’s ordinal position is one of appointed subordination, or ”the willing placement of oneself under the authority of another.” Male leadership does not mean male domination any more than female subordination or submission means being a doormat. We sometimes get caught up with the thought that to be fair, everything should be equal. God does not view things this way. If He did, we would all be created with equal opportunities, mental capacities, appearance, money, giftedness, etc.
Please note that difference in function does not mean difference in salvation. Galatians 3:28 reminds us: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. We must all come to Christ for salvation from sin exactly the same way.
A body functions properly when all of its components do what they are supposed to do. The heart can’t do what the brain does and the ear can’t do what the knee does. Yet without these different parts the body does not work as it was intended. The biblical illustration of believers as Christ’s body is similar. The body of Christ is not one big giant eyeball! We would not serve the purpose God intended for us in this world if that were the case. Neither is a church made up of only 200 pastors or 200 nursery workers or 200 choir directors. Each church member fulfills the function God has gifted him to do. So it is with male and female roles. God has made us female and we need to seek His wisdom and grace to fulfill that role biblically.
P – The Purpose in Creation Psalms 10, 54; Hebrews 13; John 4, 5, 6 (KJV)
The Feminist movement and lately the Evangelical Feminist position would have us think of a helper as an inferior role, and that a woman can and should be able to do anything that a man can. If that is true, what do we do with the scriptures where God himself tells us He is our helper? Do we think of God as inferior because He is our helper?
Psalm 54:4 Behold, God is mine helper…
Hebrews 13:6 The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me
Psalm 10:14 Thou art the helper of the fatherless
Do we diminish any part of the trinity – the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit – consider them to be inferior because of their roles? They each have distinct functions, yet are equal in essence and in power. The Son willingly placed Himself under the authority of the Father and the Spirit obeys the will of the Father and is a helper to the Son.
John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me…
John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: … because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
- God is OUR helper. Psalm 54:4
- God assigns me the task of being a helper in my home and church.
- Christ’s example is one of submission to His Father’s will. John 5:30
- The trinity gives me an example of equality in essence yet difference in function.
This perfect design of God, this created difference for male and female includes all women, not just those who are married. We are not an “oops” of God’s creation. His design, His plan was for each of us to be female in all of its scope. We can encourage godly leadership by our demeanor, responses and actions – and these expressions must always be appropriately presented. Married or single, our influence over our own house, circle of friends, family and extended family, church, and work should all reflect God’s glory in our lives as a result of His created purpose for us. We are reminded in Proverbs 14:1 that Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. By applying God’s principles of helping and subordination to our daily lives, we are building up the body of Christ and reflecting His glory, and we are demonstrating Biblical Womanhood in an ungodly world.
Demoss, Nancy Leigh, ed. Becoming God’s True Woman. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008 (formerly titled Biblical Womanhood in the Home.)
Fitzpatrick, Elyse and Carol Cornish, eds. Women Helping Women. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 1997.
Hunt, Susan. By Design: God’s Distinctive Calling for Women. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1998.
MacArthur, John. Different By Design. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1994.
Mahaney, Carolyn. Feminine Appeal. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004.
McCulley, Carolyn. Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.
Piper, John and Wayne Grudem, eds. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991.