Harding is a community for students from all over the world to come together and serve different needs on and off campus. Students have continued to create opportunities for themselves and others outside of the ministries the University provides. Men are challenged to step out of their comfort zones through leadership positions such as standing on the Benson stage during chapel to lead a prayer, song or devotional. These opportunities provide men at Harding a chance to face their fears, challenge their faith and inspire their peers.
Opportunities for women look different. Women are usually asked to lead a prayer, song and devotional during split chapel, which occurs at least once every semester. Some women at Harding have felt lost when looking for ways to step into leadership positions, but sophomore Cassie Weaver said she is not discouraged.
“I would say that we sometimes put a stigma on the word ‘leadership,’” Weaver said. “I see women leading all the time through their presence or by the way that they conduct themselves. I do believe that is the biggest asset … just being really in love with Jesus, and people will follow that because they see Jesus in you.”
Weaver serves as a spiritual leader among her theater group and also leads worship during Sanctuary at Fellowship Bible Church on Monday nights. Weaver said she felt lost searching for leadership opportunities when she was a new student at Harding and began searching for guidance. She found mentors who challenged her faith, and Weaver has encouraged other women to always ask questions, seek mentorship and lead through the love of Christ every single day. Junior Kristen Adair also encourages women at Harding to seek leadership through loving Christ.
“[People can] minister just by being the best version of Christ that you can be, and opportunities will come,” Adair said. “If you are a good person, and you’re taking every opportunity that you can to say what you know will be something that is God-led, then he will open doors for you. If you focus on being the best person you can be, and focus on being the best Christ-follower you can be in all of your daily life, then God is going to use you even though it may not look the same for others.”
Adair is a Rock House mentor, attends an all-women devotional and was recently chosen as an ambassador for the Next Gen Preacher Search at Pepperdine University.
Adair said she has found empowerment through ministries that have less to do with the Benson stage and more to do with behind-the-scenes leadership in everyday life. She has been invited to speak at an upcoming youth group retreat and will be a youth intern for summer 2020.
Senior Julie Goddard agrees with Adair about seizing opportunities to lead in ministries.
“So often I feel like we take positions that are an expectation of us and not something that God has gifted us with,” Goddard said. “I think there are a lot of opportunities to be a volunteer and to be involved, and by doing that, you are a leader because you are taking that first step into seeking out ways that you can fulfill your kingdom role here.”
Goddard served as one of the worship leaders for the Women’s Pursue Conference in fall 2019. Goddard said she feels pressure to be a strong spiritual example on Harding’s campus due to her role as a Spring Sing hostess. She said she believes her spiritual gifts involve public speaking, worship leading and performing because these roles seem natural to her. Goddard encourages women to step out of their comfort zones and do what is unexpected through the love of Christ.
Leadership opportunities for women at Harding are everywhere. Though they may not regularly be reflected on the Benson stage or in the classroom, they are present.
“[Women] bear and reflect the image of the creator just as much as men do, but in a completely different way,” Weaver said. “So I would encourage every woman … to walk in confidence that we bring a different perspective and a different insight [to] the nature of God. Walk in confidence that we are the only ones who reflect [a] part of him that we were made to reflect uniquely.”