I didn’t learn to respect men in leadership by being told I couldn’t lead.
I deeply respect men in leadership because I had opportunities to lead beside them.
Quite a few years ago, the leadership of the church we were in rewrote the bylaws. I was excited about this process; because it was going to create a variety of TEAMS – not boards or councils, but teams! With that focus, the idea was to form teams that would be responsible for certain aspects of the church’s mission (growing, connecting, serving, stewardship). I had never been part of a church lead in that way, it was very exciting!! I remember talking through this process, really wanting to know where my skills would fit in to the new structure. I love leadership, learning, teamwork, development, improvement, goals, etc! I wanted the opportunity to be part of a team helping lead the church! I was asked to be one of the leaders of the Growing Team! In this position, I had the opportunity to do many awesome things: start small groups for the church, offer training for group leaders, restructure “Sunday school” and see an increase in the number of people engaged in growth opportunities. In this role, I also got to participate in the Leadership Team of the church. I loved it!!
After graduating from college, I had the opportunity to step in to a brand new position with an accounting firm as their first ever, Firm Administrator. For nine years I had daily opportunities to learn and practice leadership. In both of these environments, most of the leaders I led with were men! These men took time to help me, teach me and give me the opportunity to lead beside them. These and many more experiences have taught me the value of leadership, based on lots of things, but not gender. In the best experiences, my opinion was valued; they respected my input and experiences. Together we were able to do great things.
Christine Caine has said that women bring emotions (an asset) to the table, but that is not an excuse to mismanage them. Each of us have a unique part to play in the Kingdom of God, men and women are vital in reaching the world with the Good News of Christ. Leading is not always easy or fun. It takes practice and humility. I know not everyone has the responsibility of leadership, and this is not meant to pressure anyone to be something they are not. For those who are entrusted with leadership opportunities, here are some things to consider on the journey of effective leadership:
Leading people takes practice
Sharpening your skills is worth it
Take note of who the influencers are in your environment
Bring your intuition to the table as a skill, not an excuse
Don’t try to be someone else, use your own strengths
Don’t take negativity personal – leading is hard
Listening teaches you more than talking
Help others be successful
Gender alone is not a leadership qualification
Don’t break down doors, wait for God to open them
Consistently resubmit yourself to God’s pruning
A mentor is important, but it doesn’t have to be someone in your real life (listen, read, watch wise people)
Leadership is many things. John Maxwell has said, “leadership is influence.” Leadership is also hard, tiring, exhilarating, and rewarding. Stick it out – we’re in this together!