“Women in God’s Mission” by Mary Lederleitner will be an uncomfortable read for many. Likely none more so than for the biblical complementarian. Those in more conservative traditions will certainly have ruffled feathers by the end of the book. I don’t, however, want to spend the entire review talking about what a woman’s role is or isn’t. The book itself doesn’t address these issues and does not set out to defend a certain viewpoint. In the preface Lederleitner writes “The purpose of my book is to bring the voices of respected women from approximately thirty nations to the dialogue about leadership in general, and to the dialogue about service and leadership in God’s mission specifically.”
Though I disagree with Lederleitner and the women in her research at various times, I still appreciate much of the work these women do, such as those who work with trafficked and abused women. Women in missions are certainly underappreciated, and I think this book brings that to the light.
The book is divided into 4 sections, Appreciating Their Stories, The Faithful Connected Leader, Realities of Gender Discrimination, and What Women Need to Do Their Best Work. She touches on many subjects such as responding with compassion to those who are offended by women in leadership positions without compromising one’s own convictions, unique things women can bring to the table like an affinity for holistic mission, and even what roles men play in all this. Lederleitner does believe men belong in this conversation and writes with both male and female readers in mind. She makes an interesting point in her chapter before the conclusion that men generally don’t read books about or by women. Many reasons could be given as to why, but this book would certainly be a place to start for understanding perspective.
If you begin the book a complementarian, you will close the book a complementarian. I don’t believe it’s the author’s intent to change your mind but to open the conversation. “Women in God’s Mission” is not an argument that women should be in missions but shows what women are capable of accomplishing, what it’s like for these women in leadership positions and how they deal with the various challenges that face women today. Overall, it is a very well-written book that I simply disagree with.
Many thanks to IVP for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review