Contributor: Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and it was good. The light was good. The land and the sea were good. All of the vegetation was good. The separation of the light from the darkness was good. Every bird and sea creature was good. Every animal God made was also good. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,” so he created “man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” “God saw all that he has made, and it was very good (Gen 1:31).”
After God created man to work his beautiful creation (Gen 2:4-7), and steward its resources causing all things to flourish as he desired, man took responsibility. He physically worked and cared for God’s creation alone (Gen 1:15). Then GOD said, “It is not good for the man to be alone (Gen 2:18).”
ADAM AND EZER
What God created from man was not an animal, nor was it like anything else in all creation. God created woman, in his own image and in the image of Adam (Gen 1:27 and Gen 2:23). She was created to be like Adam, yet different. She was created as a solution to right what God saw as a problem, “Adam’s aloneness,” and to also carry the
responsibility, Godly leadership and stewardship of God’s creation.
In the Hebrew language, the Word states that God’s created an “ezer” for Adam. Our English language simply translates the word to “helper” which does not capture the essence of the original language. This word ezer is used throughout the Old Testament often referring to God himself as a helper, warrior, or military aid to his chosen people, Israel. It has connotations of being a strong power or force.
According to the Bible, an ezer does not create more work but rather lifts the burden or lightens the load because none of us, in our human condition, can do the work of God alone. Author Carolyn Custis James writes extensively about this research beginning with her book Lost Women of the Bible. On this topic, I also recommend the book, Reclaiming Eve: The Identity & Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God.
When I think about fundamentals of Christian discipleship, specifically as it relates to women, I am convinced that women need to first Know and Love God, only then can they affirm their identity in Christ Jesus, and love their neighbors as they love themselves. These are the tenets outlined in my book, Mentor for Life. The identity piece is so important because from the beginning of all creation, women need to know that we are created in God’s image and are ezers in God’s kingdom.
SETTING MEN AND WOMEN FREE
All women are ezers. We are leaders. This is an identity we must embrace from a God we desperately need to know, who in love has called us his very own and given us a new family and community where we will never again be alone. This truth shakes the gates of hell, transforms lives, and changes generational curses on families and community. This truth sets men and women free!
Women as leaders was God’s good plan from the very beginning. Indeed, this was a gift to Adam. It is sin that caused the curse and division between men and women, and it is Christ who resurrects it. Christ did not die for us to live a little bit better than our sin. Christ died for us to live as God originally intended in the first place. Therefore, we must unlearn our cursed behavior, and walk in the newness of Christ and live!
This is why I offer leadership education that cultivates character development and spiritual formation. Through the nonprofit, Leadership LINKS, Inc., female and male leaders partner together to model and teach biblical leadership to the next generation. We have begun by first offering education through an annual leadership summer program for girls. Girls who lead become women who lead.
THE FALL AND THE GAP
Because of The Fall, we must unlearn bad behavior and then model and teach new ones. Last summer, the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report for the Making Caring Common Project. The title was “Leaning Out: Teen Girls and Leadership Biases.” The report stated what many of us already know:
Gender gaps persists: male leaders still far outnumber women leaders in many fields, including business and politics. Many teen boys and teen girls appear to have biases against girls and many women leaders and teens perceive their peers as biased against female leaders.
These problems are all heightened when you consider the prevalence of racial and ethnic biases.
Some mothers are part of the problem, and mothers can indeed be part of the solution.
One of the recommendations to encourage leadership among girls, and to address the unconscious bias against girls as leaders was to use programs and strategies that build girls’ leadership skills. The report recommends that high quality programs include exposure, skill development, collaboration, mentorship, and high expectations and meaningful opportunities. We offer this and more through our summer learning opportunity.
Our week long leadership program includes professional skill development, leadership and team learning opportunities, and features youth-led projects and opportunities for the youth to teach. We also provide a biblical framework for community service and global advocacy.
Our Leadership Exploration Series provides exposure to career fields where women are traditionally underrepresented or underpaid: Military and Government, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Media and Arts, and Business and Entrepreneurship, while providing access to inspiring female and male leaders in these various fields. Our entire program is managed by Jesus-loving, military veterans with a wealth of leadership and mentoring experience in the military, government, education, community, church, and nonprofit sectors.
When I became a Christian, it gave me the opportunity to walk in the fullness of what I already knew as a girl…I am a leader. Exercising leadership and being a good steward of our work is part of what it means for humans to be created in the image of God. For young people to lead well, we must model this truth and teach it to the next generation. We must raise up girls who lead!
Excerpts from this article first appeared on the Missio Alliance website where Natasha serves on the writing team.