Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Women in Church Leadership

Friday, January 21st, 2011 by Diane Chandler

Last week, I had a three-way phone conversation with friends of mine, a married couple, who live in another state.  Last year, the husband became the senior pastor of their local church, where he had previously served as a board elder.  My friends described a recent issue being discussed among the current board elders, which is comprised of all men.  It has been suggested that a multi-gifted person in the church, who has been in fruitful ministry over many years, be invited to serve on the elder board.  This person is a woman.  The reaction ranges from full agreement to adamant refusal.

In this conversation, both of my friends (the pastor and his wife) are very supportive of this woman joining the elder board.  Not only has she faithfully served in the church but also has ministered at other churches and in the community with obvious giftedness and anointing, which has earned her great respect. However, one elder, in particular, is having a problem with the thought of a woman having authority over a man.  Of course, you can imagine the Scriptures that he has identified to preclude any such eventuality, among them 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

This issue of women serving in church leadership remains a contemporary “hot button” and raises the question of how spiritually gifted women might fulfill their God-given calling within the local church and beyond. These scriptures mentioned above remain the arsenal for the prohibition of women fully expressing their giftedness in serving the body of Christ. Further, traditional views/practices and cultural assumptions related to the preclusion of women serving in leadership roles in the church reinforce these textual interpretations.

These issues are real and contentious, often leaving Christian women who are gifted and anointed to defend their callings, often facing misunderstanding and rejection.

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Leading with a Limp

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

A few days ago, I sustained an injury to my left foot.  After a freak twist while walking quickly, I found myself collapsed on the floor.

A few rubs and deep breath later, I precariously stood up and took a few fateful steps.  Nothing seemed broken.  So I carried on with my day.  That is …. until about 3:00 p.m. when my foot swelled, and I could no longer ambulate.  On medical advice, I elevated and iced the foot for the rest of the day.  If the situation persisted, I would head to the hospital the following morning for an x-ray.

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Women and the Churches: Part I

Friday, June 4th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Bella's Baptism

Recently my oldest daughter, Bella was baptized. As every parent knows, the baptism of your children is momentous because it is about their becoming members of God’s family. For those who practice believer’s baptism, as I do, the feeling is more akin to what parents who practice infant baptism feel when their children undergo confirmation. To see your child publicly and personally embrace the faith in which she was raised, well, let’s just say it is one of those markers in life.

I have always supported women in ministry in part because from its inception pentecostalism has always had women ministers. This was long before cultural trends were in favor of it. In fact, just the opposite was the case; it went directly against cultural trends.

The baptism of my daughter has reminded me of the prayers I have always prayed for her and my other two children. These are common prayers: that God would raise her up, make her strong in mind and body, give her of powerful sense of calling, use her for his kingdom, in short, that God would cause her to flourish. It is for these reasons that I write now in support of those prayers.

The more I study the history of Christianity, the more it seems apparent to me that the Spirit has continuously raised up women to advance God’s church. The historical fact that they have had to do this while being consigned to particular roles has not stopped the Spirit from giving them a continual voice. So, for the next few posts, I want to talk about women and the churches as a way of honoring all Christian women and expressing a hope for my daughter. Read the rest of this entry »

Spirituality and Leadership (Part 3)

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Over the past few weeks, I’ve focused on spirituality and leadership by looking at David’s relationship with God.  Last week’s blog zeroed in on David’s automatic default in times of leadership crises, which was to throw himself on the hesed (love, loving kindness, mercy) of God. 

David’s spiritual rhythms of seeking God, worship, and prayer were released through his poetry and song writing.  How could someone with that amount of leadership stress and crises find time to write poetry?  Read 1 Samuel 19-22 for a snapshot of a few days in the life of God’s anointed on-the-run.  Then read 2 Samuel 8 for an overview of some of David’s military exploits after Saul’s death.  It’s difficult to imagine how someone so action-oriented could also be so reflective, as evidenced by the 150 Psalms in Scripture that are testimonials of David’s spiritual life in God. 

But what about contemporary Christian leaders?  How do we navigate the rigors of leadership, all the while growing in our spiritual communion with God? Read the rest of this entry »

Spirituality and Leadership

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

In my blog last week, I addressed how a leader’s background informs his or her adult leadership style.  From the Hebrew Bible, I contrasted David’s secure attachment to God (forged early in his life) with the ongoing anxious attachment style evidenced by Saul.  Saul’s uncontrollable jealousy and rage are ample indications of the insecurity that infiltrated Saul’s life and leadership. 

The contrasting lives of David and Saul become classrooms for understanding leadership and spirituality ~ specifically how their relationship with God informed (or in Saul’s case, did not inform) their leadership.  The contrast could not be more glaring!

As I read the Psalms attributed to David, one prominent observation concerns David’s utter dependence upon God through the leadership trials he encountered.  And he encountered many ~ namely death threats, opposition, criticism, rejection, mutiny, and troubles of his own making, including ethical breaches and moral failures.

What sustained David through these times?

From a careful reading of the Psalms, what sustained David was his dependence upon the love (Heb. hesed) of God. The Psalms attributed to David are replete with thanks to God for his hesed for past deliverance and cries for God’s unfailing love to continue to deliver and restore him.  See Psalms 6, 13, 17, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 31, 36, 40, 51, 52, 57, 60, 61, 63, 96, 70, 86, 101, 103, 108, 138, 143, and 145.  [Also refer to Dale Coulter’s blog of May 14th, which assessed translations of hesed.]  

David learned how to bed himself in the palm of God’s unfailing love as an automatic default when in crisis. 

Although difficult to translate into English, the meaning of hesed has been shown to connect with God’s covenantal relationship to those who “belong to him” (Claus Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, 1981, pp. 120-21).  In his book Hesed in the Bible, Nelson Glueck further defines hesed: “To him [David], for whom communion with God is the greatest good, God’s hesed, His love for His followers, is comparable to God’s goodness” (1975, p. 95). Gordon R. Clark notes that hesed includes grace, mercy, compassion, faithfulness, reliability, confidence, and love; yet is much broader than any of these combined (The Word Hesed in the Hebrew Bible, 1993, pp. 267-68).

David’s spirituality informed his leadership with all of its successes and failures because his automatic reflex was to cast himself upon the hesed of God. Saul evidences little to none of this kind of dependence upon or trust in God’s mercy and loving-kindness.

Often when leadership trials come, we might conclude that God is not with us.  Yet David’s spiritual default to leadership crises was to dive headlong into God’s presence, crying out for his loving kindness.  He pressed in boldly.  How can our spirituality inform our leadership with this kind of trust?

David and Saul: How Our Backgrounds Impact Our Leadership

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Lately, I’ve been considering the challenges of leadership related to personal identity, spirituality, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal dynamics.  Over the next few weeks, my blog topics will relate to areas of leadership and spirituality. 

Specifically, what causes us to stand during the exercise of leadership when we are misunderstood, resisted, attacked, and rejected?  How does the spiritual life of the Christian leader inform such times?  And when we are in supportive roles to leaders and are rebuffed, how can we process these disappointments?  Can anyone relate to these challenges?

If I were to interview King David related to his leadership challenges, he would have much to draw upon, beginning with his volatile relationship with King Saul.  David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel as future king, became Saul’s armor–bearer, and killed Goliath.  He bore all of the marks of a strong emerging leader.  He was bright, gracious, bold and confident in the Lord, musically gifted, and honored authority.  Oh, and did I mention nice-looking?

As the first king of Israel, Saul was quite insecure about his role (i.e., he was hidden in the baggage and had to be brought out to be anointed king) and jealously reacted to the attention lavished upon David after slaying Goliath.  The women’s chant, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands,” did not bode well for Saul; wherein Saul concluded, “What more can he get but the kingdom?” (1 Sam. 18:7-9).  Jealousy became the stronghold that opened the door to evil spirits in Saul’s heart, which eventually contributed to his downfall.

When David wanted to genuinely serve God and Saul, what possessed Saul to want to kill him (notwithstanding an evil spirit)? Allow me suggest one way of viewing their relationship that integrates psychology and leadership perspectives into some kind of sense-making that provides further insight into the 1 Samuel narrative.

Psychologists inform us that  styles of attachment in infancy and childhood impact how we view others in adulthood, including those in authority and the world in general.  Based on the ground-breaking work of psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, who examined care-giving during infancy, three primary attachment styles have been identified:  (1) secure, (2) anxious/ambivalent, and (3) avoidant.  First, those with a secure adult attachment style generally possess positive self-esteem, healthy self-confidence, and feel well-liked among peers. Second, those with an anxious/ambivalent adult attachment style typically have low self-esteem, a heightened sensitivity to rejection by others, and may expect to be devalued.  Third, those with an avoidant adult attachment style do not trust others, prefer isolation, and expect others to be insensitive, unsupportive, and unresponsive. 

My hypothesis is that Saul had a very anxious/ambivalent adult attachment style that persevered throughout his lifetime. On the other hand, David had a secure attachment style, primarily forged early in his life during times with God, who repeatedly protected and delivered him from Saul and others who sought his demise. This secure attachment to God (as his ultimate Care-giver) gave David a strong personal identity as God’s beloved and the place where David ran to when troubles rose. David drew upon the Lord’s love throughout his leadership journey as his primary source of love, comfort, protection and identity (more on that in next week’s blog).

Rejection in the exercise of leadership (as one who exercises leadership or one who follows) can be a deeply painful experience.  The result?  We mercilessly blame ourselves and/or experience a huge wobble of personal identity and confidence without understanding the spiritual, emotional, relational dynamics at work among all parties. 

When you review your past or present leadership challenges, how might understanding yours and other’s attachment styles assist you to put these challenges into greater perspective?