Many readers of Padgett’s book might already find themselves in a position of agreement—that is, understanding that a thoroughly New Testament view of women and men includes women in leadership in church settings and in the home. Padgett does offer a fresh perspective—that leadership is result of one’s submissive character, and that all followers of Jesus are called to embody such submission – that combined with his thorough exegetical work makes the book a likely worthwhile “refresher.”
But there is value in the book far beyond even that. For what Padgett does in this book is open the door for accessible conversations in the church about two key things: leadership and the study of Scripture.
Jesus as a model for leadership is nothing new, but merging the ethics of submission with reflective thinking about leadership has powerful implications. Padgett explores some of these throughout the book and in his conclusion especially, but largely he simply opens wide the door for further thinking and writing. For example, as anyone who has worked in any kind of Corporate (or corporate) setting knows, issues of leadership are often at the fore. How then, do we Christians parse the world of leadership, vocation and work with the kind of thinking Padgett is advocating? The potential for bridging this work with thinking on work and vocation is quite large.
Furthermore, Padgett offers a thoroughly evangelical approach to interpreting Scripture that avoids the kinds of biblicism that Christian Smith and others have recently named as problematic. That Padgett is a persuasive and compelling exegete is clear here, but even more significant is his posture to approaching the Bible to begin with—using the narrative of Christ’s submission as the keystone for all faithful reading. In this, he manages to very subtly link reflective thinking about leadership to a critical appreciation for the New Testament in a way that feels authentic and fresh.
Micah Weedman is Director of Outreach at Belmont University in Nashville.