To the Woman Who Thinks She Can't Lead

Cara Joyner

Cara Joyner
Updated Jul 02, 2014
To the Woman Who Thinks She Can't Lead
If Jesus didn’t put any qualifications on who should go and when they should go, why do we create so many limitations for ourselves?

There He was, standing on that mountain with his most intimate circle of friends, men and women alike, watching their tears fall and listening to them worship as they came into an understanding of the fullness of God and the power of the resurrection.

In the glory and reverence of that moment, Jesus said…

“Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit….except for all you women. Wait until you get married, or your kids are grown, and the school volunteer committee doesn’t need as much of your time…but make sure you wrap it up before you get too old, because then you’ll no longer be relevant. And all of this only applies to the “natural” leaders among you. The rest of you should just follow. Now go!”

Hmm…something seems off about that last part. Let’s take a second look.

Matthew 28:19, Jesus said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  That’s it. No conditions.

If Jesus didn’t put any qualifications on who should go and when they should go, why do we create so many limitations for ourselves and each other when it comes to fulfilling the last thing He told us to do?

To woman who feels she can’t lead, I want you to know that you are strong. I want you to know that you are gifted. I want you know that you are needed.

These are truths I once forgot, until a friend helped me remember.

Waking Up

Ten days after turning in my office key and ending a five-year stretch of work in student ministry, I found out I was pregnant. Everything in my brain shifted. My thoughts, my time, my energy….it all rolled towards dreaming about, planning for, and eventually taking care of this tiny baby boy. He was my world. And for two years, I forgot about the ways my heart once burned for the calling Jesus left us with in his final days with the disciples. For two years, I slept.

My wake-up call came in the form of fiery French-Austrian friend attending the Hillsong Leadership College in Australia. Each time we sat in front of computers to Skype, my spirit was stirred with new life. I tossed and turned in my “sleep”, hearing a voice whisper that it was time to get up. One particular Saturday evening, my dear friend asked, “So what vision has God given you for your life?” Her confidence in asking made me even more aware of how unsure my response sounded. I mumbled out something about being a mom and supporting my husband in his work in ministry and that maybe when my kids were older I would “write a book or something.”

She was still for a few seconds, nodded her head and said, “Hmm. Yeah, I think God has more for you to do than that. Don’t get me wrong! I think being a mom and supporting him is really important too. I just think He has also called you to some specific things that He wants you to do. You know?”

I was awake.

There is a lie we hear and a truth it cannot overcome.The lie tells us that we cannot lead unless ______________. Unless we are married. Unless we are mothers. Unless our kids are grown. Unless we are younger than a certain age. Unless we can write. Unless we like speaking in front of people. Unless we are artistic. Unless we can sing. Unless we are well-known.

The lie wants us to believe that these are the things that qualify us, but the truth is that the One who qualifies us is in us and is working through us. We need nothing else.

The truth is that where we are weak, He is exceedingly strong. He fills the gaps of our inadequacies and allows us to be used for more than we could dream of accomplishing on our own.

Our circumstances may influence what we are able to do, but they do not determine if we are called to do something. Many of us feel the inevitability of time slipping through our fingers and we know that life is indeed short. It is for this reason that we cannot “wait until ________” to roll up our sleeves and get our palms dirty in the work of our God whose heart is to reconcile a broken world to Himself. In light of our brief moments on this earth, we move in the places we are today. We work where our hands are already planted.

The lie wants us to believe that leadership is confined to a select pool of people who stand in front of the rest and are seen by many. The truth is that to lead is to wash the feet of another. To lead is to serve. It’s a laying down of self in exchange for the cross, joining in the story Jesus invited us into.

We don’t have the luxury of waiting for a more opportune time. The time for leading is now. The time to pour out our gifts is today.

When Moses questioned God’s calling, citing his inability to speak eloquently, God responded, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:11)

You are gifted because He created you for a purpose. You are strong because He is perfect in your weakness. You are needed because He has work for you to do. There’s no more waiting for a better time. Today, right where you are, this is the time to lead.

Cara's Headshot Cara Joyner is a freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom living on the East Coast with her husband and two sons. After years of working in student ministry, she has come home to raise her boys and begin tackling grad school. She loves hanging out with college students, watching Parenthood and eating chocolate like it's one of the food groups. In addition to iBelieve, Cara is a contributing writer at RELEVANT and Today's Christian Woman. She writes about faith, marriage, motherhood and intentional living at She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.