Forbes recently published their list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women. In assembling the list, they looked for women who run countries, big companies or influential nonprofits. Their rankings are a combination of two scores: visiblity (by number of press mentions), and the size of the organization of country these women lead.

At number 1, for the fourth consecutive year, is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, who remains in the No. 2 spot, has presided over the orderly takeover of 77 banks so far this year. Chief Executives Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, (No. 3), Cynthia Carroll of Anglo American, (No. 4) and Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft Foods (No. 6) rank among the world's most powerful businesswomen and are tasked with steering their companies through unusually challenging times. Queen Rania of Jordan, at number 76, is the perhaps the most listened-to woman in the Middle East.

Trying to come up with a list of the world's most powerful women begs the question of what "power" is all about. Forbes asked nine female leaders in big business and influential nonprofits to share their reflections on "power."  Here's what they had to say:

  • "Confidence is Power" - Lauie Ann Goldman, CEO, Spanx
  • "Power is the ability to create change in the world" - Tensie Whelan, Executive Director, Rainforest Alliance
  • Power is not being tied to any person or any thing. "If a deal or a relationship does not make sense, I can walk." - Lynn Tilton, CEO, Patriarch Partners
  • "Power is one's ability to inspire positive change…to impact the global village." - Tina Sharkey, Chariman and Global President, BabyCenter
  • Power is confronting "the demons that prevent us as human beings from living up to our full potential." - Cheryl Dorsey, MD, President, Echoing Green
  • Power is about having choices. - Karen Wickre, Senior Manager of Global Communications & Public Affairs, Google.
  • "I feel powerful by being able to influence others in a positive way." - Missy Robbins, Executive Chef, A Voce Madison and A Voce Columbus
  • "I do consider myself to be a powerful woman…having [a] person believe in you is very empowering." - Deanna Kangas, CEO of Stila Cosmetics
  • Power is having "the ability to change the world in powerful ways through collaborative and collective efforts." - Linda Avey, Co[Founder and Co-President, 23and ME

Reading through the Forbes list, and the reflections of these nine "powerful" women made me think how very differently things work in the economy of God. For the Christian woman, "power" has an entirely different meaning. "Power" is not about chipping our way to the top of Forbes list. It's all about the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is "the power of God." Paul proclaimed that he would never shrink away from proclaiming that fact. (Romans 1:16)

So what does power look like in a Christian woman's life? It looks very, very different than the world's idea of power. For the Christian woman, power is knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection and sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Philippians 3:10) Power is not about attaining confidence, prominence, influence, having choices, being the head of a government or having a CEO position in a company. Power is living a cross-centered life. Power is dying to sin and living to righteousness. Power is laying down our lives for the sake of the gospel. Power is humility, and service, and self-sacrifice, and often involves suffering and shame.  It's "sharing in Christ's sufferings, becoming like him in his death." That's a radical thought.