By Rev. Crystal Schmalz
Integrity is one of those throw around words that people hope for in interviews. We want leaders to be authentic, honest, and loyal. We want leaders with integrity. We want our leaders to have good morals and principles. But hoping for these things isn’t enough. We cannot just wish upon a tree, and think all of our leaders will be honest, authentic, and do the right thing.
As a female leader, I am always hoping for integrity when it comes to women in leadership positions. I long for the day when women are accepted in our movement and society for the calling God has placed upon their life. I hope for gender inclusive language, and I strive to help bring awareness to this great cause and ministry. But, when we raise this issue we must always begin with ourselves. Before we point any fingers, let us look inward at our own integrity and pray for the strength and courage to be Christ-like.
As female ministers, it is important for us to have the right attitude. We need to be humble and be in ministry for the “right” reasons. We need to check our motives, and the desires of our heart. As we look inward, we need to ask God for the true characteristics of a leader. We cannot be defined by a feminist movement, a liberal bent, or the culture around us. Our identity must be placed in Jesus Christ, and as we strive to be leaders, we need to ask God “Lord, what do you want to teach me? God, teach me how to be a female leader who displays your Spirit.”
It has been very hard for me as a female in leadership. I have struggled with many thoughts and disappointments. I have sat in meetings where only male leaders were addressed, and the female leaders were forgotten. I have sat in conversations where men argue with me about my calling, and try to use scripture unjustly to diminish or weaken my calling. It hurts. It’s abusive. It’s wrong. It’s a struggle to stand strong, and not become bitter. Bitterness will not lead us in the right direction, and the wrong motives behind a cause will always surface. Love is what we have to do. We have to love even those who do not believe in our calling, and we have to pray for them.
We have to have patience. We have to be slow to anger and wrath. We have to be positive, and be willing to take the time to teach people. There are many scriptures which have been wrongly used, and taken out of context. With humility, we must speak the truth, but only in love.
We must be willing to live in a church that isn’t perfect. I sometimes find myself dreaming and imagining about the perfect church. I think about what it would be like to graduate from seminary, and have someone offer me a pastorate. I think about how great it would be for someone to come alongside me, teach me, and mentor me about what it means to be a female in leadership. I think about what it would be like to sit on the platform with the male leaders, and be respected for my calling and honored for my service. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and it isn’t about me. It’s about the Kingdom, and about accepting where God has placed me at this time in my life. You can dream and dream about how you think things should be, but at some point you have to place your dreams into the hands of God and be willing to give it all up. Save your life, and you will lose it, but lose it, and you will find it.
So, in conclusion…before you cast the stone at someone else, take a look at yourself. Look at your motives and desires. Ask yourself the hard questions. Maybe you aren’t being asked to speak or preach, because you aren’t ready and maybe that isn’t your calling. Maybe you aren’t in leadership, because you don’t have a realistic understanding of service. Maybe your motives are all about show or self-exaltation. Get this stuff out of the way, and let Christ lead.
We have to be Christ-led. There is no other way. If we want to be leaders with integrity, we have to submit our will to God and be willing to wait for God to open every door. We serve a great a mighty God. Who are we to question the timing? Just grow where you are planted…and make it your goal to lead with integrity.
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