Overlooked: When Women Are Passed Over for Leadership

Research suggests a reason for this phenomenon beyond the glass ceiling.
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This was true for both Mike and Steve.

Broken Forms of Leadership

Chamorro-Premuzic’s article does not discredit or dishonor men, but rather focuses specifically on incompetence and discriminatory management practices. It also notes that women tend to have higher emotional IQ, more humility, and more interest in working as a team than men in management.

Because women are likely to value the relational component of leadership—how we’re treating and connecting with others—alongside programmatic and institutional success, we often have a more holistic approach to leading. In my experience, this often keeps our feet on the ground and our hearts open to correction.

Curiously, as many churches rely on business metrics to gauge leadership success, we are increasingly encouraged to forsake our unique gifts and adopt the broken masculine style described by Chamorro-Premuzic. In my three decades of church leadership, I confess I’ve occasionally battled self-hatred and been tempted to mimic male leaders, simply so I could gain a place at the table.

Ultimately, that temptation replicates the ruse offered to Jesus during his 40-day trial in the desert: the temptation of power. Just as Jesus refused to bow down, so must we. When we assume that arrogance should trump humility or that our intellect exempts us from needing to engage in conversation with our team members, we have capitulated to a system that silences the powerless. By regarding these traditionally male forms of leadership as better than the forms of leadership that come more naturally to women, we edge dangerously toward misogyny.

All of us will most likely be treated unfairly and encounter subtle—and sometimes not so subtle—forms of sexism in the church. Three things are imperative to avoid compromising our leadership. First, we must commit to forgive any men who knowingly or unknowingly are guilty of these behaviors. Remember: Forgiveness does not mean that we deny our wounds and function as stoics. If we fail to forgive, we become reactive, bitter, and dismissive. This posture fails to honor God and the men in our lives.

Second, we must avoid envy and refuse to seek the approval of people. It’s easy to equate public recognition, promotions, and invitations to speak with success. In the eyes of Christ, success means something different: treating others with dignity, choosing to serve rather than demanding to be served, and ensuring that those on our teams feel loved and well cared for. Though the temptation to please people is ever before us, the world’s measure of success uses metrics that are biased against our strengths, and we will always be found lacking. Rest in this truth: Even if those in power never notice our efforts or acknowledge our contributions, nothing that we do for God or his kingdom is ever wasted.

December15, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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