Women in Leadership … Pt 1
Q: I am interested in hearing from women who are in leadership but, their husbands are not. How do you manage life when you are the one being called on? How do you handle an all male staff that you report to? How involved is your husband at church? -Chris
Hey Chris … to answer your question I’ve roped in two friends to help answer over the next two Wednesdays. First up, the fabulous Jenni Catron, executive director at Cross Point in Nashville with Brandi:
First of all I love this question because it’s a very real tension that many women leaders face today. I’m extraordinarily blessed with a very confident and secure husband who has great respect for the way that God has gifted me as a leader.
I have wrestled with the fear of people assuming that because I take the lead in a lot of environments, I must “wear the pants” at home. My husband and I have worked hard to make our home a place of mutual love, respect and submission. He sees me as a partner in our marriage and has a deep respect for my calling and gifting.
That kind of support from my spouse is a tremendous gift that has laid the foundation for my ability to live out my leadership.
There are so many layers to your question that could each be a blog post in themselves, so I thought I would share three things that came to mind to me as I read your questions and hopefully I’m touching on some of what you were asking.
1) Find your confidence in God’s calling and gifting for your life. Once I did this, I began leading out of obedience to God rather than trying to win the approval of others. For several years my husband and I led a couples small group in our home. We co-led the group, however I often took the lead in starting discussions and facilitating conversations. I went through a season of insecurity about this because, although it was the natural way that we worked together, I was afraid that others thought I was taking charge too much. My husband was the one to remind me of how God had gifted me to lead and that he didn’t care what others thought. We needed to be most concerned about whether we were leading as God had gifted us.
2) Face the loneliness. Leadership is lonely and being a woman in leadership can be even lonelier. This has definitely been true for me as a woman who reports to a man and directly leads several others. I think it’s important for men and women to learn to serve together in a healthy, Godly manner (a great resource is Dr. Sue Edwards book “Mixed Ministry”), however there will still be times where you will not be able to relate or participate. One of my most frequent prayers is for discernment regarding the things that I need to try to influence in the way of shared ministry.
3) Forget normal. Your responsibilities as a leader will shape your life differently than others. My husband and I have different routines and priorities than other friends in ministry. We have learned to create a rhythm of life that works for us. I’ve had to give up expectations to be the “super wife” who has dinner on the table every night and all the laundry clean and put away.
In addition, I’ve had to get real about my expectations of him. My husband has a very successful full-time job that is not ministry related. It is unrealistic for him to attend every church function with me. He serves in the ministries that he would naturally want to be a part of whether or not I was on staff. I’m careful to not put expectations on him in this area because I want him to love serving.
At the core of all of these dynamics is healthy dialogue between you and your spouse. I couldn’t do everything I do without my husband’s encouragement, prayers and support. Our unity is what equips me to lead in uncharted waters and amidst a few raised eyebrows now and then.
Much love and prayers as you continue to embrace how God has gifted you to lead!