My most significant example of a Christian leader is Marie Bates, my Mom. She is not listed in the Bible; she was not a pastor or minister, nor was she academically educated for ministry. However, she was my connection to the Bible before I could read. She taught me to pray each night before I crawled under the covers on my top bunk bed. And she was my moral compass until I could begin to make decisions for myself. As my Mother, she taught me the characteristics of a good Christian woman in leadership. She listened to the Lord’s call on her life to be a mother of five children, I was the youngest.
My Mom taught me the characteristics of a Christian leader
I was blessed to have a loving, caring mother as an example of Jesus in my daily life. When I was 30 years old, my Mom died from breast cancer. Even in her darkest moment, she modelled Christian leadership for me. As she clung to the side of her hospital bed exhaling whimpers of pain, she managed to breathe out her prayers of thanksgiving to God. She grasped onto a photo of Jesus that said: “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it”. I believed it too, simply because she believed it. Within hours, she was gone. Her room lit up with magnificent colours, more vibrant than I had ever seen before, or since. At that moment, I knew “it was worth it” for her. She entered heaven “with flying colours”, as she would often say about great accomplishments.
I carried her faith in my heart, but my grief began to sink its teeth into my spiritual certitude. I started to question my own personal faith as I attempted to sort out what was mine, and what was inherited from my Mother. As I longed to stay connected to her through my faith, I knew that God was the real connection, and I began to pray for the spiritual understanding that my Mom had. I no longer mimicked what she did, but I explored it deeply. And I began to unravel the truth about my role as a Christian woman in leadership.
She taught me to look for my own instruments in life to guide me to a closer relationship with God. A few months before she died, my Mom gifted me with a brand-new Bible. She wrote inside an incredibly special message: “Always listen to the promptings of the Lord and you will hear His voice. He will guide you through life”. A message I hold dear to my heart, especially when I find myself in challenging situations.
My Mom’s role as a parent took shape through her use of prayer and reading the Bible. Prayer was her instrument for guidance and the Bible gave her direction for her life as a woman, a wife, and a mother.
What tools do you use in leading other women towards a
stronger, more intimate relationship with God?
Maybe yours is a song, a piano or other instrument? Perhaps yours is the voice that is heard in a school classroom or in a law firm boardroom?
I believe women’s Christian leadership starts at home: pray with your husband, pray with your kids, pray with your siblings – just keep praying. When my Mother prayed with me as a young girl, and later as I watched her pray with her final breaths, I know that through her prayers she found strength and direction. A direction that led her into the arms of Jesus.