Women As Leaders

Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore

So headlined The New York Post after Tiger Woods voiced his support for Augusta National‘s inclusion of Condoleezza Rice as a new member. As you know, the club that hosts the Masters golf tournament announced this week that it is admitting its first two female members: the former Secretary of State, and business executive Darla MooreAugusta National Chairman Billy Payne called the event “a joyous occasion.”

The club opened in December 1932, composed only of male members. Over the years, despite numerous protests and attempts to encourage change, Augusta has steadfastly refused to discuss membership issues. As a result, this week’s announcement came as a surprise to many.

Tiger Woods, the most famous golfer in the world, immediately responded: “I think the decision by Augusta National membership is important to golf.” AT&T’s CEO went further, stating that his company applauded an “historic announcement.” Here’s a question I’ve not seen in print anywhere: would Jesus agree?

The Old Testament tells of numerous female prophets, including Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14). Anna served in this office (Luke 2:36), as did Philip’s “four unmarried daughters who prophesied” (Acts 21:9). Jesus made his first Easter appearance to Mary Magdalene, commissioning her as his first missionary and evangelist (Matthew 28:10). Lydia became Paul’s first European convert and the sponsor of the first European church (Acts 16:40). And the apostle commended Junias as “outstanding among the apostles” (Romans 16:7), the most visible leaders of early Christianity.

I was led to Christ by my female Sunday school teacher. My first spiritual mentor was a woman.  In my first pastorate, the member most used by the Holy Spirit to guide and encourage me was a woman. Over the years, anointed women like Anne Graham Lotz have spoken God’s word to me with prophetic power. My wife is the godliest person I’ve ever known and a daily gift to my life and ministry.

In these cultural commentaries I am often led to speak out against negative trends in our society. Today I am glad to endorse one of the positive developments in this generation: the growing acceptance of women as leaders in business and culture. I’m grateful for trendsetters like Condoleezza Rice: first black woman to be Secretary of State, first black woman to be national security adviser, and first African-American, first woman and youngest person to be provost of Stanford University. And I vow to be as committed to changing our culture for good as she is. Will you join me?