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I Don’t Fit the Senior Pastor Mold

But I’m leading in the way God has gifted me.

To make things more challenging, we don’t often associate the traits of a nurturing mother—traits that describe the way I lead—with our ideas about leadership. Several years ago, a fellow pastor actually advised me not to be motherly and nurturing as I lead—as if those two traits should be exempt from leadership. But Scripture is full of rich imagery that describes God with maternal and nurturing traits, like these three examples:

“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them” (Hosea 11:3–4).

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft” (Deuteronomy 32:11).

“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:13).

While culture might at times paint maternal traits as something that should be removed from leadership, Scripture flips this upside down and shows these traits as strengths. Maternal and nurturing leaders, like mothers, seek not only to care for their family, but also to push for the success of their family. The maternal leader nurtures in times that call for empathy, presence, and care, but she also pushes, inspires, and motivates when the time is right.

Lead as the Unique Person You Are

So on that day as I blurted out my feelings like a young teenager in love, I only second guessed it for a moment. As I walked down the aisle to greet the congregation as they left the sanctuary, the Spirit reminded me that God has given me a voice, a personality, a posture, a mind, a heart, and emotions—and these unique traits make me who I am. I can only lead, pastor, teach, and shepherd in the ways that God has created me, and that means being nurturing and maternal. And just because I’ve never seen that from a pastor doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

When women see the people who usually serve as senior pastors, many of us quickly realize we lead differently. It can be tempting to change to be like the leaders we so often see, putting aside who God has called us to be. It has taken me years to figure out that I don’t have to be someone else—I simply have to be who God created and gifted me to be. I may preach in a different way, sharing emotions more freely and using non-sport illustrations, but that’s who God made me to be. I may lead through influence and relationships rather than authority, but that’s who God made me to be. I am who I am, and I’m not sorry for it.

September12, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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