In 1995 God used an unassuming, unflashy woman as an instrument to spark a revival of humility and surrender in the hearts of thousands of Christian leaders. Nancy Leigh DeMoss (now Wolgemuth) had been asked to speak to the staff of CRU and taught about the kind of heart that God revives for his glory, and the necessity of a lifestyle of surrender and humility. Christian leaders serving with CRU were deeply impacted and their leadership radically transformed as God’s Spirit convicted them about sin and selfishness.[1]

Hundreds of women will gather in Atlanta in two weeks to learn and grow together as women who offer life-giving leadership, rather than life-taking or selfish leadership. Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt share, “Our leadership is life-giving when it reflects Jesus’ person and purpose which is only possible because of his prayer and provision.” [2]

Here are three specific characteristics of life-giving leaders:

A life-giving leader is motivated by a desire to please God

After an intense short-term mission trip to Thessalonica, the apostle Paul wrote, “For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive,  but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4[3].

It’s comforting to realize that impure motives are a temptation common to people, including women who serve in ministry (See 1 Cor. 10:13). A desire to please God first is possible when we put on Christ’s humility and put off selfish cravings for things like the attention of others or securing a reputation as a “rock star woman in ministry”.

Lord Jesus, set me free from selfish ambition and grow in my heart a desire to please you most of all.

A life-giving leader’s private and public lives match up

Most have experienced the heartbreak of hearing of a respected ministry leader’s duplicitous life—men and women who publicly taught the sweet truths of God’s grace and holiness yet had a private life of sin and deceit. I’m not referring to sins and mistakes in the past, but the sober reality of someone living in the present with ongoing deceit and pursuit of sin.

I’ve heard many of these tragic stories and have witnessed the devastating impact of a leader’s deceit.

My sisters, let’s commit to pursue holiness in all the seen and unseen areas of our lives. Paul was able to say to the Thessalonians that, “…we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves…” (1 Thess. 2:8). We grow into a readiness to share our lives, our real lives, as we grow in having nothing to hide.

Please don’t hear this as condemnation but rather as a loving invitation! We all have temptations and sins (past and present) that lead us to feel ashamed and unworthy of Christ’s love, perhaps even of being involved in ministry. Enter 1 John 1:7 into this shame-filled swirl of thoughts:  “But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” (The Message)

A lifestyle of holiness doesn’t mean perfection or never having sin battles! It is demonstrated by a woman’s willingness to ask for help when there is secret sin in her life and trusting Jesus with the consequences of what may feel like costly obedience.

Lord Jesus, search me and know me. Give me courage to confess my sin and refuse to hide. Thank you for the promise that I’ll always be met with mercy and grace when I confess my sin to you.

A life-giving leader faithfully perseveres in the midst of suffering

Mountain tops, valleys, and varying pathways on the ascents and descents describe the Christian life, including ministry. Those who serve will encounter various kinds of trials such as loss, disappointment, accusation, loneliness, slander, and being overwhelmed…and that’s just for starters!

Perseverance in the Christian life is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit as we submit to God’s plans and purposes for our lives. If our leadership is to reflect Jesus, then it will lead us through various experiences of suffering that will threaten us to give up and shrink back because it’s too difficult and uncomfortable.

Christ gives us himself and his constant intercession in the midst of these challenges! None of us can be a godly, life-giving leader in our own power or wisdom. But we can through the presence of Christ. A lifestyle of dependence upon him will bear the fruit of godly character in our lives, impacting even our leadership.

Lord Jesus, you’re my True Leader who gave your life so that I don’t have to do life in my own power. Transform me into a woman who desires to please you, is growing in holiness, and identifies with you in trials of ministry. Amen.



[1] https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/radical-repentance-1/.

[2] Life Giving Leadership, p. 69

[3] All Scripture quotations from ESV unless noted.

About the Author:

Ellen Dykas

Ellen received her MA in Biblical Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary in 1999 and serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for Harvest USA, a national ministry focused on gospel-centered discipleship and teaching regarding sexuality. Ellen loves ministry to women and is most passionate about mentoring, teaching God’s Word and spiritually nurturing others to walk deeply with Jesus. New Life Presbyterian in Dresher, PA, is her home church.