You’re Hurting the Female Leaders in Your Church (and You Don’t Know It)

“You have the opportunity to give women the clarity they need to lead fully and confidently, for the benefit of your entire church.” – Kadi Cole

What would your church look like in the future if it were to maximize the dormant gifts of the women God has brought there? In Developing Female Leaders, Kadi Cole, twenty-year veteran in leadership and people development, offers a practical strategy to help church and organizational leaders craft cultures that facilitate the development of women as volunteer and staff leaders.

Kadi’s career in ministry leadership had a shocking, but not all that uncommon beginning. In Developing Female Leaders, she shares her story along with interviews and surveys of more than one thousand women in key church and organizational roles, combined with current research, to create eight easy-to-implement “best practices” that help accelerate a woman’s organizational contribution.

The following is an excerpt from Developing Female Leaders: Navigate the Minefields and Release the Potential of Women in Your Church.

Usually when I speak at a conference or lead a training at a church, it is the female leaders who are excited to connect and talk about my personal journey, especially how I ended up leading at high levels in churches that were not publicly open to having women in positions of leadership. But more and more lately, I have been approached by male senior pastors and executive leaders asking me questions about what they can do to help develop the young female leaders on their staffs and in their congregations. I talk about pipelines and training, getting women leaders out of administrative/secretarial titles, and how to cast vision and provide clarity about the issue with their teams. As we talk, they will typically nod and take notes. Usually, they will have a couple of follow-up questions, and sometimes offer a description of the existing women on their team and an explanation of what they have done so far to help them grow as leaders. That’s when it will get weird. I actually hear things like:

• “I promoted her to my assistant so she can sit in on the executive team meetings.”

• “I assume we will only have her for a couple more years until she starts having kids.”

• “I asked my wife (who does not work at the church) to start mentoring her.”

• “She comes on a little strong, which makes our team nervous.”

• “I talked with her husband to see if she’d be willing to increase her hours.”

• “I didn’t want her to feel awkward being the only girl, so we didn’t bring her.”

• “We have a big women’s ministry, so she gets what she needs spiritually there.”

• “We were going to give her a promotion, but she became pregnant, and we didn’t want to overload her with a baby on the way.”

It always takes me by surprise. These are really amazing men— the highest-level leaders in their churches. They are intelligent, love the Lord, have great people skills, and are trying like crazy to make a way for the female talent they see on their teams.

But here’s what I have come to realize: they meant well, but they simply did not know what they did not know. I am calling it “lovingly ignorant.” How could these leaders be expected to do things differently if they did not understand why these perspectives and actions are not helpful?

Order your copy today and start developing female leaders in your church.

Kadi Cole is a strategist with a passion for developing people and teams. As an organizational consultant, leadership coach and LifePlan facilitator, Kadi helps individuals and teams uncover their God- given purpose and develop a plan toward fulfilling it. With over 30 years in ministry leadership and a life-long student of what it takes to move, motivate and manage teams, Kadi provides a down-to-earth approach to equipping leaders, building ministry teams and developing effective systems.

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Greg Ligon

Author Greg Ligon

Greg Ligon has been with Leadership Network since 1997. He serves several Leadership Community Directors and oversees the organizations publishing partnerships. During his time at LN, he has also directed the Multi-Site Churches Leadership Community, Leadership Training Network and spearheaded strategic services for the organization. Greg is also one of the authors of The Multi-site Church Revolution and A Multi-site Church Road Trip. Prior to joining the LN team, Greg was responsible for creating and directing the United Methodist Campus Ministry at Southern Methodist University in Dallas for seven years. He also served as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Waco, Texas. Greg and his wife, Susan, have two sons, Daniel and Andrew.

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