Women Are Vital to the Mission of InterVarsity (Part 1)

After I had been on staff several years, InterVarsity on the West Coast hired the first female area director. Several of my colleagues in New York/New Jersey went to our regional director and asked him to consider now appointing me, as a woman, to the area director role. I was very encouraged and grateful for this affirmation from my community. This opportunity gave me the chance to develop my gifts as a leader so that I was later made the first female regional director within the organization. This appointment was not just a matter of being given the right to lead, but for me, a matter of stewarding my gifts, being empowered by the Spirit and having a clear sense of calling from the Lord.

As leadership selection takes place on your campus for next year’s leaders, this makes it a good time to affirm gifted, spiritually mature women taking on leadership roles. InterVarsity has focused intentionally on identifying and preparing the next generation of effective leadershipboth men and women. I see both genders of this generation having greater confidence in living fully into their giftedness. But, I long to see more women have greater confidence in embracing all that God calls them to be.

InterVarsity, throughout its history, has affirmed the use of the full range of spiritual gifts for women. We are committed to developing women at every level in our organization among students, faculty and staff. We believe women are important to our mission of developing witnessing communities on campus.

  • We affirm women in speaking and teaching roles in all settings.
  • We affirm women as leaders of both men and women.
  • We pursue the development of strong ministry partnerships between men and women.
  • We affirm that the distinctive characteristics of both women and men contribute to the effectiveness of ministry teams, and that teams are strengthened by the gifts which both bring.

In future blog posts, we’ll be addressing two important issues that arise from these commitments:

  1. What it means for you who are women to lead out of who you areto discover your own style in order to lead with confidence.
  2. What it means for us as men and women to work together well, including with those who disagree with our commitments. We affirm the differences between genders in terms of outlooks, values and decision-making. God’s plan for men and women from Creation was to partner effectively. As a result of the Fall, this has not always been without its tensions.

InterVarsity affirms women in leadership. But it remains for each of us to step up and accept the invitation from the Lord to fully use the gifts he has given, to be on the journey of developing as a leader and to be a full participant in Kingdom work.

About the Author
Interim Vice President and Director of Collegiate Ministries

Janet Balajthy serves as interim Vice President and Director of Collegiate Ministries. She and her husband, Ernie (an InterVarsity faculty advisor at SUNY Geneseo), live in Rochester, New York. They have two grown children, daughter, Sara, and son, David, who were both involved with InterVarsity leadership in college. Janet has been with InterVarsity since 1975.