Perhaps you like me find your style of leadership influenced by people from all walks of life, all ethnicities, differing social-economic and religious backgrounds. Perhaps another influencer on your leadership style comes from where you chose to pursue higher education and your professors and colleagues who made a lifelong impact upon you personally and professionally. Having attended a state-funded junior college, small denominational colleges, and seminaries, larger universities online and in the classroom have enabled my worldview to be enlarged exponentially. I have made lasting friendships and I am a better person and leader for these relationships.
There remains much for me to continue to learn and master from a leadership dynamic. One of the areas over the past decades that God continues to grow me is the arena of women in leadership positions within the marketplace and church. For a number of years, the Sherwin Williams Corporation I work for at the local level has been actively recruiting women for this large, predominately Caucasian male-dominated company. I am not sure that women are necessarily being recruited to work at the local church or denominational level with enticements of moving up the church or denomination level as in the marketplace. That said there still remains the following disconnect where women in leadership positions are concerned within the local church.
The Protestant church world, however, according to the recent Leadership Network interview I listened to between Larry Osbourne, senior and teaching pastor at North Coast Church and Kadi Cole, speaker, and author of the book, Developing Female Leaders, provide the following statistic. Women make up 61% of our church congregations, yet only 10% are in positions of leadership. While we will not get into the theological and denominational nuances of this topic, Kadi makes the point that regardless of your church or denominational views on women in leadership, there remains significant room for improvement for women in leadership positions at the local church or denominational level.
I was raised as an Independent Baptist, and then later moved my ministry into the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). I chose to finish both my undergrad work and a Master of Art in Leadership at Mid-America Christian University (COG-Anderson) and later completed work towards a Master of Christian Education majoring in Christianity & Culture at Winebrenner Theological Seminary (COG Findlay), and have completed a majority of work at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary on a Master of Theological Studies. But it was at Winebrenner that I was exposed to a denomination who affirmed women in the ministry. At Winebrenner, I was in the classroom with women who felt called to the ministry and to the senior pastor position. Here I began to see women seeking leadership positions in a denomination who affirmed women in the ministry yet my female classmates were still struggling for acceptance in their predominantly male pastored denomination. It led to interesting discussions in the classroom and beyond.
This scenario from my time at Winebrenner was brought back to my mind in listing to the interview between Larry Osbourne and Kadi Cole. Kadi stated that there is a difference for women in predominantly male organizations. I will focus on the church here, of being in the room and being at the table. It has everything to do with not only being asked to the meeting (room) and sitting at the table and actually having a valid voice in the discussions that transpire around the table. There is a huge difference between allowed input in discussions and then having your thoughts received, validated, discussed, and possibly implemented. I share this and encourage the reader to purchase Kadi’s book. As a male leader, one who has been a senior pastor, we need to make sure we create opportunities for women to reach their leadership potential in our local churches. How you may do that might look different in your church or denomination from the church around the corner.
While it is important to reach men, develop men, and utilize male leadership in our respective churches we need to have a balanced ministry approach that does not miss out on enabling the largest gender side of our church congregation. Allow me to challenge my male and female leaders to continue to grow your leadership dynamic in all areas but specifically in the area of increasing female leaders in our church. If you are a male in a staff leadership position, particularly as a senior or associate pastor, please consider reading the book by Dr. MaryKate Morse, Making Room for Leadership, Power, Space, and Influence, who states:
“You don’t just lead with your voice and your decisions. You lead with your body. The way you take up space in a room, the way you use or don’t use your body in group settings, influences others.”
Dr. Morse’ book has been endorsed by Leighton Ford, Leonard Sweet, Peter Scazzero, and Dan Kimball, and she is a professor of leadership and spiritual formation at George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon.
My life and leadership has been greatly influenced and enriched by my loving wife June who daily exhibits leadership skills in the marketplace as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of a local hospital. June has an MBA with an additional concentration in HR from Liberty University, twenty plus years in hospital C-Suite roles, working as an HR Generalist for an NC school district, working with a hospital foundation, assuming different church leadership ministry roles, with all contributing to her leadership development. I have been also been influenced in particular by Dr. Kathleen A. Patterson who was one of my professors at Regent and is also head of the Doctor of Business & Leadership program at Regent University, along with Dr. Virginia Richardson, one of my professors at Regent and President and Senior Fellow of The Institute for Leadership in Medicine. As a male in a senior leadership church or denominational position, what women in your life have enriched your professional leadership development?