FREE METHODIST WOMEN LEADERS BRING UNIQUE ABILITIES
By Dr. Denny Wayman, Lead Superintendent of the FMCSC.
At the 2017 Annual Conference in Southern California I presented the findings of an informal study I made asking Free Methodist Women Leaders what it is that women bring to the leadership position that is unique. These are my findings and presentation:
In Genesis we are told that the curse of the fall is such that women have been subjected to men (Gen. 3:16) – AND – it is the Gospel message that this subjugation will be so no more within the Kingdom of God (Matt. 20:25-26) This imperative given to us by our Lord involves both humble diligence toward our own personal prejudices and a consistent commitment toward our church systems such that our sisters are empowered and encouraged to fulfill their God-given purposes.
This year we decided as your superintendents to not divide into workshops as though some of us are interested in missions, and some in leadership, and some in multiethnic ministry, and some in empowering women. All of these five values we all share equally. They define us as Free Methodists!
It has been said that the 21st century is the century designed for the Methodist Message. Our commitment to relationships allows the postmodern world to be engaged in conversations that reach beneath the resistance to religion into direct relationships with God.
It has also been said that women are uniquely prepared to lead in such a movement. I agree. In my 41 years of ministry, I have worked closely with leaders at every level of our denomination. I have seen firsthand the thinking when only males are seated at the table. I have also experienced the transformation when women are present. The unique perspectives, sensitivities and collaborative abilities that women bring change everything. The joining of men and women in ministry is a fulfillment of God’s intention when He said of Adam that it is not good for him to be alone – and His solution was not another man, but the gift of Eve (Gen. 2:18).
So to discover what it is that women bring, I reached out to a sample of Free Methodist women leaders: CEOs, Vice Presidents, Therapists, Lawyers and of course Lead Pastors from all over the nation. 20 responded. I asked them a simple question: What do women bring to the leadership position that is unique? I was looking for what is often missing when only men lead. Not that all men lack these abilities, but in their experience, what do they as women bring to the table that is often missing?
These leaders gave me over 22 different abilities women bring to their business, academy, ministry and church. Of these 22, there were five that were listed by a majority of them.
The most common is:
- EMPATHETIC: One leader said it this way: “Women have empathy and the ability to hear unstated or underlying concerns, not being as initially intimidating.” Another leader said: “In an increasingly diverse world, women are more open to diversity and more empathetic with the oppressed.” Others spoke of empathic compassion for people suffering injustice.
Second, and tied for first place with Empathetic is:
- COLLABORATIVE: In a whole variety of ways, these leaders described how women are “collaborative and team oriented.” Another said: “Women tend to see power and collaboration in concentric circles rather than as a hierarchy. We are used to getting things done through teams and groups.” And another said that women have a “team/collaborative leadership style rather than the “lone ranger” leadership style often used by men, which” she goes on to say, “was especially popular in the cult of personality found in mega-churches that flourished in the previous generation.” And another said: “a collaborative spirit is one where the leader is willing to be part of the solution, not the sage on the stage”.
The third strength that women bring is:
- HOLISTIC: One leader described this as: “holistic care for the person beyond what may be needed for the job.” Another said: “A woman in leadership brings a holistic approach – considering the bottom line, but also the team dynamic, the way communication takes place, the experience of being under her leadership.” Another described this as “an ability to think holistically – both strategically/big picture, and pastorally/ individually.”
The fourth attribute women bring to leadership is:
- INCLUSIVITY: As one leader explained, women bring: “A more inclusive approach to leadership, often being more aware of drawing in silenced voices and moving groups toward consensus.” Another said: “Awareness of others and the relational aspects provides a more inclusive, accepting and nurturing church environment for all.”
And fifth of 22 contributions women bring to leadership is:
- SENSITIVITY: One leader said it this way: “Sensitivity to other people and perspectives – sensitive to how other people may react to different circumstances, or being sensitive to the fact that people see things differently, and responding in kind.” Another leader said: “women tend to be more sensitive and tender hearted towards peoples and issues of justice and equality.”
These are only the top five assets that women leaders bring to the church.
I think you can see that in this 21st century these abilities are greatly needed. Every one of our churches needs women at every level of leadership, from lead pastors to leaders of ministries to board chairs. As your superintendents, we invite you into healthier and more productive churches by including women leaders at all levels of church life.