Leading in church can often feel like a partner sport, like tennis or fencing, especially if you’re a woman. It can be easy to get discouraged if you’re a single woman and the only available position for you in church seems to be childcare, but that’s not an area you feel skilled in or called.
It’s worth looking at two of the single ladies in the Bible and how God used them. Most people have at least heard of Miriam, Moses and Aaron’s sister. She aided in Moses being rescued from infanticide shortly after he was born, and she later became a leader among the Israelites. After the entire nation escaped Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, we’re told, “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing” (Exodus 15:20, ESV).
That may seem unimpressive, but please recall that the Bible says the number of men was over 600,000 (see Numbers 1:17-46). With women and children, the population was probably close to two million people. This was an epic worship service Miriam was leading!
Fast forward hundreds of years, and we’re introduced to another prophetess: the widow Anna. She was waiting in the Temple for the Messiah to come, and she was one of the first to recognize Jesus for who he truly was. “She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:37-38). In many ways, Jesus’ ministry on earth was publicly announced first by angels and then by a woman.
Years later, Paul would write strong praise of another single woman who was an enormous help to the early church. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well” (Romans 16:1-2, ESV).
Please know that God wants to use your time, gifts and presence to bless the church. Being single or widowed will never mean your talents can’t be used to edify the body of Christ!