Trouble with Authority

You're bound to be tested
Read as Single PagePage 1 of 2

It didn't take long to face opposition once I started a career in ministry. Of course, I had a lot of strikes against me from the start. First of all, I was young, fresh out of college, and in my first-ever paid ministry role. On top of that, I was a woman, the only woman serving with the pastoral staff. And, probably most significant, I was hired to launch a brand new ministry–church-wide adult small groups, a ministry most in the church knew nothing about and had no interest in.

After working at the church for a few years, our team decided on a new approach for small groups. I began training new leaders for small groups so that I, then, could serve as their "coach" in the fall instead of leading groups myself. I spent the summer meeting with a group of potential leaders–training them, laying out expectations, and modeling how to lead a small group.

As fall approached, I met with each of the potential leaders to get a feel for whether or not they wanted to lead a group. Most of the meetings over coffee went smoothly–some individuals expressed a desire to move into leadership, while others felt they weren't quite suited for the position. All, though, affirmed their trust in me and were grateful for the time and effort I had put forth that summer. All, that is, except one.

Although she expressed excitement about leading a small group for our church, one woman said she didn't want to follow our church's plan for small groups.It became apparent that she wanted to have complete control over her group and didn't want to answer to anyone, even me, her coach. At first I was shocked. What does she mean she wants to do her own thing? I just spent nearly three months training her! After processing my anger and uncertainty over how to handle the situation, I finally decided to stick to my guns: the only way she could lead a group was if she was willing to follow our church's plan.

Then the bomb fell. "Why should I follow you? I've been in small groups longer than you've been alive." Ouch. It hurt most because it was true. She was at least 30 years my senior, and she did have quite a bit of experience in small groups at a different church. The trouble was that they ran their small groups much differently than ours.

Our interaction left me reeling, and it prompted a lot of questions and doubts. Why should she follow me? Do I really know what I'm doing? Do I have the authority to lead other leaders, even if they're older than me? Faster than I knew possible, I turned from a confident woman, rarely afraid of conflict or confrontation, to a scared girl, afraid to make my case at all.

July 20, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Recent Posts

How Churches Benefit from Co-Pastors
One couple’s story of leaning into their unique gifts and callings as they lead together
Why Do People Only Notice My Clothes?
The reason we get more compliments on our clothing than our sermons
When a Leader Doesn’t Know She’s a Leader
How to develop and encourage the emerging leaders around you
We Need the Wisdom of Seasoned Leaders
How my life was changed by a woman twice my age

Follow us


Most Popular Posts

Why Do People Only Notice My Clothes?When a Leader Doesn’t Know She’s a LeaderHow Churches Benefit from Co-PastorsIdeas for Women's Ministry