Again, as a woman leader over two organizations, I often struggle when methods are skewed or blatantly moved to a different dimension other than what I’d imagine. I really have no issue with creativity whatsoever, yet; it’s disturbing sometimes to view and correct what is the direct reverse of my intentions. I see this not only in my own businesses, I likewise experience this with some of my clients. Although I do not claim to know everything, through my training, I assert that God has provided me excellent teachers to enhance my knowledge into producing positive outcomes. With this in my pocket, I couple these moments with consistent applications.
This week I draw again, these writings, from a recent research study bearing the same name of this blog. I found the title quite fascinating and give credit to Glanz (2020). The purpose of Glantz’s (2020) study was to understand better, how women succeed as leaders in Christian ministries.
In every organization, there is an emergence of fundamental adjustments based on what the world has experienced this year. In all aspects, creativity is imperative to survival. Many businesses were forced to close this year, but there were many churches eager to open one again. And, opened, they did! Women returning to their work in church leadership, were also faced with the challenge of carving out time to homeschool their children. Grounded in these new responsibilities, the observant person I consider myself to be, started examining the social identity theory. Glanz (2020) assessed this theory as well, perhaps the reason I chose to review her research study.
Identity and autonomy offer great insights on how women in leadership approach their roles. Coined by Tajfel and Turner (1979) the social identity theory proposes that individuals often can decipher who they are, based on the groups they belong to. A woman leader in a church setting, may have several social identities, but the one she might cling to most, is the fact that she is a child of God. Her primary social identity is that of Christian.
Now this last point must seem obvious to you, yet; what should be taken into consideration are the vital responsibilities of women in the church. Women leaders are wives, mothers, ministry partners, workshop creators, and so much more. Therefore, at times, holding on to the most important social identity, that of child of God, may seem far-fetched outside duties within the church. With this, there are also the wall hangers who are guided by the enemy. This group often sit quietly, waiting patiently for these women to fail. Then the quiet they held on to, immediately turns to wrath and judgments.
Yet, women leaders must be resilient.
Conversely though, how is Christian resilience built? What are structures and practices that can be implemented to ignore the wall hangers and those trying to keep such leaders off the righteous path? In my digging and from my own experiences,
Here are a few suggestions:
- Know your identity as a child of God. No matter what you are up against, this knowledge will comfort and sustain you.
- Before you accept or vie for any leadership position in your church, understand the sub-set of Christianity you’ll represent. Questions to ask-What are their expectations? Do they focus on salvation? Do they ask people to repent; to really give their sins to the cross?
- Discern what your earnings will represent. Will you go out and purchase a fancy car or a new home? What about jewelry? Ask yourself, what does modesty mean to me as it relates to all aspects of my Christian life? I’d encourage you to read the Pauline Epistle, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9 and meditate on this.
- Connect with other women in Christian leadership who may not attend your church. Find people to discuss challenges with who will always deliver a Christian perspective.
- Read an article in a journal dedicated to your field of services every day or at least once a week. This will keep you abreast of the many frameworks related to your field.
- Be prepared for any circumstances. Think before you speak and maintain boundaries especially with the group(s) who believe wholeheartedly that a woman’s role is to stay at home and never work. Yes, there are still a few out there.
- Hold on to confidence. Speak upon your desires to serve God. Remember God’s got you more than anyone else could.
- Remember, not because you are in leadership, you should hide your emotions. If you cry, God cries with you. In contrast, I don’t believe He wants you to get into a screaming match with anyone. This behavior is not the type of emotion God expects from you. If you believe this is a problem, I’d encourage you to pray and if necessary, speak to your pastor or a pastor outside of your own church setting.
- Embrace the gentleness of your womanhood (1 Peter 3:4)
- Never lose sight of God’s words. Interpret them and apply them to your life, daily.
Like every woman I know, whether a church leader or not, there are always moments when one may be devalued. Some may even believe women in church leadership do not know their business or the Bible well. Nonetheless, the freedom of knowledge God provides is limitless.
I’d encourage you to listen to Him and listen well!
Glanz, J. L. (2020). Exploration of Christian women’s vocational ministry leadership and identity formation in evangelical churches on the west coast. Christian Education Journal, 17(2), 325–346. doi.org/10.1177/0739891320919422
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. (2001). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In M. A. Hogg & D. Abrams (Eds.), Key readings in social psychology. Intergroup relations: Essential readings (p. 94–109). London, England: Psychology Press.