Book Review: “ Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women In Ministry” By Tara Beth Leach (Intervarsity, 2017) -- By: Mandy Smith

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 31:4 (Autumn 2017)
Article: Book Review: “ Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women In Ministry” By Tara Beth Leach (Intervarsity, 2017)
Author: Mandy Smith

Book Review: “
Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women In Ministry”
By Tara Beth Leach (Intervarsity, 2017)

Mandy Smith

Mandy Smith, originally from Australia, is lead pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today publications and the Missio Alliance Blog and is author of The Vulnerable Pastor: How Human Limitations Empower Our Ministry and Making a Mess and Meeting God. Mandy is Director of Missio Alliance’s She Leads Summit 2017.

Walter Brueggemann dedicates his seminal work, The Prophetic Imagination: “For my sisters in ministry who teach me daily about the power of grief and the gift of amazement.” As he describes the grief and amazement that together shape the prophetic imagination, he also describes the story of many women in ministry—lamenting what is broken in themselves, the church, and the world while also imagining what can be.

When I read his dedication, as a woman still learning how to lead, I was moved to tears. To have both the pain and the joy of this calling verbalized—even called prophetic—gave that tension value. I saw for the first time that God could use what previously had seemed to disqualify me. It stretched my own imagination of how God might use me and my sisters.

Tara Beth Leach’s book, Emboldened, takes me to the same place, where there is room for women’s burdens and for an imagination of what could be possible if we really did this thing we are called to do. With unapologetically maternal warmth and authority, Tara Beth sits with readers like a big sister. She makes space for the frustrations and pain without condescension or bitterness. She acknowledges the baggage and cultural challenges without leading us into victimhood. Above all, she presses forward with courage, joy, and imagination.

The book has two main sections: Emboldened Women and A Vision for an Emboldened Church. These create a healthy balance: giving voice to the very real, personal issues women have to face while also placing those within our broader mission, weaving our healing into the healing of the church.

The primary audience of Emboldened is women preparing for or engaged in ministry. The author sometimes addresses her audience directly as “dear sister . . . .” She is careful to remember just how many different kinds of women may be reading, sure not to force her readers into the false choices they may be presented elsewhere:

Kingdom women are diverse, you see. We have gifts to teach, preach, prophesy, serve, lead, and build. We are church planters, we are kitchen ladies, we are number crunchers, we are directors, and we are worship leaders. We are nurturing, we are assertive, we are maternal, and ...

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