by Kat Armstrong
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space. Learn more here.
I often worry that I am too much to handle. I have an ideal godly woman pictured in my brain, and she’s nothing like me. I won’t even describe her to you because in doing so I’m perpetuating a lie, constructing an idol, and she’s just not worthy of our brain-space. Jesus’s approval, on the other hand, his image, his standards are the goal.
My lived experience as an innovative ministry leader, ambitious justice seeker, passionate preacher, seminary-trained theologian, working mother, and pastor’s wife have bolstered my fears that I am too much to handle. We know of the unspoken parameters for women with strong personalities, sharp convictions, prophetic leanings, dynamic leadership skills, or a willingness to speak up. While our strength should be celebrated as God’s handiwork, the question that most often comes up is, How strong is too strong for a godly woman? Most of us know we can be, and should be, and were designed to be strong in the Lord, but is there such a thing as “too strong”, and if so, where’s the line? When did we start assuming “strong” is an unwanted personality type rather than a level of kingdom-minded commitment?
Whisk together my too-much-to-handle insecurity, fold in unscriptural church culture, and add a dash of negative comments, and voilà, you’ve got my half-baked views of strong Christian women. The missing ingredient is God’s power, the power he gives all Christ-followers through the Holy Spirit. And using his power to advance his purposes makes us strong. It’s a given, quite literally. Harnessing God’s power to work through us is not only a necessity for any godly woman but an act of surrender to God’s priorities found in Mark 12:30 to love God with all our strength.
Maybe you just need to hear it: There’s no such thing as “too strong” for Jesus-women. We can’t be too filled with the Holy Spirit. If we went through Paul’s list of spiritual gifts in Romans 12, it would serve as a reminder that we can’t be too good at prophesying, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, showing mercy, and we can’t have too much faith. If we went through the list in 1 Corinthians 12, it would serve as a reminder that we can’t display too much wisdom or knowledge, heal too many people, perform too many miracles, or interpret too many languages. We can’t outshine God’s glory by showing off his gifts in us.
My imaginary ideal woman fades when I’m focusing my attention on strong women in the Bible, such as the Proverbs 31 woman and Deborah from Judges 4, who stewarded their God-given strength through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Take a look at these strong characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman:
• She epitomizes valor.
• “Strength and honor” are her clothing (v. 25), or her brand, what she was known for, and how people viewed her.
• She was hardworking and skillful selecting her textiles and working with her hands (v. 13).
• Her elbow grease and investment capital would create provisions for her household and additional income if she sold the grapes or wine (v. 16).
• She was so industrious that she even had enough to share with the poor (v. 20).
Perhaps no other woman in the Bible held the incredible influence and strength of Judge Deborah (Judges 4):
• Deborah, the only woman who served in judgeship of the nation of Israel, led the people of God with wisdom and courage.
• She had national influence.
• Her people recognized her authority.
• She held the unique dual function of both a judge and authoritative prophet.
• In a role similar to the reign of a king, she ruled over the military as judge.
• As a prophetess, she spoke with authority on behalf of God to his people.
• Deborah, an indispensable asset, was chosen by God to lead. The text is clear she was not God’s plan B.
Deborah and the Proverbs 31 woman were not too much to handle in God’s eyes and should redefine what it means to be a strong Christian woman.
Instead of worrying about being a strong woman who is too much to handle, the women of Scripture have encouraged me to ask this question instead: How can I use what God has given me to bring him glory and to work for the common good of all people? As daughters of God “we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10 hcsb).
We can’t play small. And not because we are a big deal—quite the opposite. We can’t play small because God’s mission to reconcile all people to himself is too important.
What I say to myself I say to all my Christian sisters: Embrace your strength. You were handcrafted with every single part of your personality, disposition, and wiring for the good works God intended for you to carry out. No more holding back, ladies.
Kat Armstrong is the author of No More Holding Back, an innovative ministry leader, sought-after communicator, and the cofounder of Polished Ministries, a network that gathers young professional women to navigate career and explore faith together. Kat and her husband, Aaron, live in Dallas, Texas, with their son, Caleb, and attend Dallas Bible Church, where Aaron serves as lead pastor. Find her on social media @katarmstrong1.
The Propel Women Leadership Summit is a one-day event for women who want to grow their leadership skills and capacity in pursuit of the calling God has placed on their life. Attendees will receive world-class training from a globally-recognized faculty who will equip them with wisdom and actionable takeaways that are applicable across any industry. Learn more here ▸