By Katie McCoy
Ever surveyed the different women in the Bible? There are quite a few. And whenever I study the women in Scripture, I’m reminded of pattern that emerges. In the lives of all the individual women, there is one theme running through the pages of their stories, one thing that all of these female characters of the Bible that we know so well had in common: influence.
Pick a woman in the Scripture that is known for anything and you’ll find that she was a woman of influence.
Think about Deborah (Jdgs 4-5). She stirred up a military leader to faithful action when he wanted to run away from a problem. She exhorted him to trust the Lord in the face of overwhelming odds. She was a true leader. She never made their success about her – in fact pointed out the strengths of everyone else. Influence.
What about Esther (Est 4-8)? She was planted in a pagan palace so she could influence a king to spare her people from ethnic cleansing. No military intervention. No revolution. Just one woman submitted to God. Influence. And her predecessor, Vashti? She was de-throned after digging her heels in against the king’s request. Why? Because even pagan politicians knew that women had influence.
Don’t forget about Abigail (my personal favorite!). She was the picture of grace under fire, defusing the temper of a future king and intervening in what would have been an out-of-control conflict (1 Sam 25). Quick-witted and sharp-minded, she spoke with wisdom, diplomacy, and skill. Influence.
And it isn’t all good influence, either.
Sarah (Gen 16) convinced her husband, Abraham, to fulfill God’s promise his own way instead of waiting on God to work. Influence.
Remember Jezebel? She influenced her husband Ahab to deal treacherously with a landowner and the nation of Israel to serve the pagan gods of surrounding nations (1 Kgs 19,21). Influence.
And it all began with Eve – she pulled her husband Adam into doing the one thing he knew he wasn’t to do, persuading him to disobey the Lord (Gen 3). Influence.
Eudoia and Syntyche must have had some strong personalities for Paul to tell them to get along. Apparently their riff was causing some serious issues in the church at Philippi (Phil 4:2). Um…Influence.
And then there’s Miriam. She influenced all of Israel’s women to celebrate their deliverance after crossing the Red Sea. All the women followed her lead (Ex 15). But then she helped instigate a rebellion against her brother, Moses, about who was going to be in charge (Num 12). Because of it, God struck her with leprosy, stalling the entire nation from moving forward. (Thankfully, she is remembered on a positive note – see Micah 6:4 – Aren’t you glad we aren’t known for our worst moments?) Miriam’s words had weighty consequences. She was definitely a woman of influence.
These women weren’t necessarily in some great position of power, or financially wealthy, either. They just used their influence right where they were.
The Woman at the Well in John 4 went from covering up her past to using it as the introduction to telling her whole town about Jesus, all because she met the Messiah. Huge influence!
Priscilla was uprooted from her home in Rome and started over in Corinth but that didn’t stop her from nurturing a young preacher named Apollos (Acts 18). Influence.
These were ordinary women. Much like us, they probably didn’t feel like they had particularly extraordinary lives. But they all had influence. The question was how they chose to use it.
Maybe you find yourself in the middle of interpersonal conflict like Abigail, or discouraged by the lack of faith-filled action like Deborah. Or maybe you’re starting over in a new city, new school, or new ministry like Priscilla. Perhaps you feel stuck in a scenario that seems impossibly irredeemable like Esther. Or maybe you’ve experienced the Messiah like the Woman at the Well and are ready to start telling the people around you about Him.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, YOU are a woman of influence. And the question for you and me is, how will we use it?
Katie McCoy is assistant professor of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article originally appeared on BiblicalWoman.com.