I recently read a book entitled Just Lead! A No Whining, No Complaining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church. The authors are Jenni Catron (CEO of MOPS International) and Sherry Surratt (Executive Director of Cross Point, a megachurch in Nashville). I recommend this book to all women interested in being church leaders.
Let me tell you what this book is not. It is not a detailed theological or exegetical analysis of scripture to serve as an apology for women in church leadership. I will say more about that in a minute.
Let me tell you what this book is. It contains the personal stories of these two women and several others as they navigate the waters of church leadership in the male-dominated churches of the evangelical world. It contains accounts of breakthrough and progress as well as instances of opposition and frustration. It also has sage advice for women in two ways. First, what are the general challenges that American women face as they tackle leadership roles? A good example is chapter 3, “The Monster You Are Avoiding.” Here is a quote:
That same feeling follows us into adulthood as we ask ourselves, Am I smart enough? Do I have enough education for this position? Do I have the experience this job demands? The questions may change as we get older, but they all point to one lurking monster that may feel as if it’s getting bigger by the minute: insecurity. Insecurity can hit you unexpectedly. One minute you’re feeling pretty cool and together, and then wham! You’re left with sweaty palms asking some pretty big, unsettling questions. Am I enough? Can I measure up? Do I have what it takes? Do I even belong here? (p. 36)
Men reading this may think that this is an issue that all people have. We all feel at times that we are unqualified for our tasks and that we are in over our heads. But with women, this is wrapped up with issues like body image and expectations of our society. I will admit that I do not fully understand everything this chapter has to say, but it was not written for me. I think it speaks to men and women, but especially to women leaders.
A second area that the authors address is the resistance of some men to women leaders and how to handle this. We could hope that the gender of a person’s boss would not be important, but in the real world, it is. We are foolish to act as if there are no men who have problems serving under women leaders. I don’t fully understand this, but I have observed it many times in the church and in the classroom. There are male students who find it difficult to respect women professors. There are many explanations for this, I’m sure, but there is no real excuse for this behavior. Here is how the authors frame it:
There isn’t a leader reading this book who doesn’t want to succeed when it comes to working together with the opposite sex. But I think we can all agree that sometimes it’s complicated, frustrating, and just plain hard. Men and women have different communication styles and react with different levels of emotion. Then, just for fun, let’s throw in fear of sexual tension and deeply rooted theological differences. In fact, it’s amazing that any mixed-gender teams get anything accomplished.
I think this chapter alone is worth the price of the book (chapter 8) because I have never read anything that addressed this issue in such a straightforward way. There are many other treasures here as well as a good, up-to-date list of resources. And it is an enjoyable read because they are good authors. I recommend it for men or women.
Final note: I mentioned the book doesn’t delve into a biblical basis for women church leaders. Instead, there is an assumption that God calls people into ministry, and if a woman experiences God’s call, she should answer with the surrender of her life. More on this in the next blog.
Nebraska Christian College