By: Rachel Brown
Often when we’re looking to hone our leadership skills, we forget that there are so many prime examples of strong female leaders right in front of us within the pages of the Bible. Join us as we take a look at some of the inspiring women in the Bible and how their actions and choices can influence us as we strive to be better leaders in our communities, our families, our schools, and our workplaces.
Tabitha (from the Book of Acts)
We first meet Tabitha in Luke’s book of Acts. She was a close friend of Peter’s and she played a significant role in the early church. When she appears in the book of Acts, Tabitha had died from an illness and the community was in mourning. Peter prayed and prayed for her, and God answered his prayers by resurrecting her from the dead. In Rachel Held Evan’s fascinating and informative post about women in the Bible, she paints the picture of Tabitha’s role in society and the importance she held in her community:
“A stalwart force in the first-century effort to restore the dignity of widows was a woman named Tabitha. Likely a widow herself, but with means, Tabitha lived in the port city of Joppa at the time when Peter and Paul were busy spreading the gospel throughout Asia Minor. She was a renowned philanthropist, known throughout the land for ‘always doing good and helping the poor’ (Acts 9:36). She was also a master seamstress, making robes and other clothing for the many widows in her care, presumably imparting on them the skills of the trade.”
Tabitha serves as an inspiration to us because she was a quiet, diligent leader who focused her efforts on serving others. She led those around her through her actions, and she gained respect in her community by pouring into the lives of those around her instead of solely focusing on herself. Tabitha’s attitude and behavior remind us to humbly serve the people in our lives, whether they’re in our neighborhoods or homes or classrooms or coffee shops. Instead of commanding the attention of others through power or accomplishments, let’s strive to earn the respect of our peers by serving them.
Though Esther experienced what some may view to be a horrific life journey (she was forced to become part of the king’s harem, eventually becoming one of his favorite women and later a queen), she stands out as a brave, wise leader. Perhaps it’s in spite of her difficult story that she rises above her circumstance to become an inspirational leader, quietly overcoming obstacles with grace and faith. Esther was forced to participate in traditional beautification rituals as she prepared herself for the king, and all the while she obeyed her orders and took care in the preparations, always acting with humility and self-sacrifice. Most notably, Esther was courageous in the face of persecution and fear.
God had a plan for Esther, and even though her life appeared to be extraordinarily difficult and isolating, she lived each day with purpose and intention, using her actions to declare her faith in the Lord and His plan for her. We can take so many cues from Esther, learning from her behavior and demeanor and choices and especially her faith.
Mary (of Mary & Martha, from the Book of Luke)
Mary may not be a traditional example of strong female leadership in the Bible, but there’s a reason we think her role in the Bible is so influential and applicable to present-day life. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus comes to visit a woman named Martha, one of His closest friends and disciples, and her sister Mary. Martha busies herself in the kitchen to accommodate Jesus’s arrival while Mary plops herself at His feet to learn everything He has to share. Let’s pick up at verse 40:
“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself! Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from here.’”
This example in Scripture seems so fitting in this day and age, a time where women feel more pressure than ever to hustle and lean in. It is good to be productive and efficient, no doubt, but there are certainly times when we succumb to being a Martha when we should strive be a Mary. We get distracted by our to-do lists and our cell phones and our future plans and our dirty dishes and we forget the most important things in life, allowing our focus to be on the minutiae instead of on the big picture. Jesus’s focus on Mary reminds us of the importance of being present, of the power of using our stillness instead of our busyness to demonstrate our leadership and priorities.
Photo Cred: Aaron Burden
Rachel is the Director of Project Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband and their adorably large English mastiffs.