“She’s a good leader, but I don’t know how to help her realize that. What can I do to make her see what I see in her?”
It’s the conversations we have with a lot of guys about their wives. While they want to see their wife step into greater leadership, they’re not sure how to help her overcome insecurities and challenges.
There’s no one fix to solve it. But there are lots of things you can do as a guy to help your wife or even other women on your team to become more confident in their leadership.
Even if it’s not said out loud, she typically feels the question in the air. Is her leadership welcomed or is she excluded from that role because of Paul’s instructions? It’s not enough to dismiss the conversation or sidestep it. Confidence will be built in her and every other woman on your team when you know what you believe about her role and why.
She might not know. Chances are, she’s unclear about it. Wading into the conversation can feel frustrating and even repetitive. But it’s important. In order to step into it, she needs to work out what God has called her to. And if you’re married to her... no one is more equipped to help her navigate that process than you.
The most meaningful gifts can be those that say, “I believe in you.” Books, courses, conferences, coaching opportunities- they can be the thing that unlocks the gift of God inside of her.
Men are typically more connected to other leaders than women are for a variety of reasons. She’s juggling kids at home or a career outside of the church or the guys are always the ones to show up at the pastor's events and she doesn’t feel like being the only woman there. Whatever the reason, chances are that you have more leadership connections. When you bring her into your circle, you reinforce the thought that she should be at the leadership table too.
As much as she’d probably like to manage cleaning the home, the kid’s schedules, the weekly menu, and all your relationships as a couple while also leading in a significant role, she can’t survive under that weight. And you’re likely to take the brunt of it if she tries. Sit down and look at your schedule and responsibilities. What needs to shift in order for her to lead? In order to do what no one else is doing, you’ll need to live like no one else is living.
You might have figured this out already, but it can be easier to lead men than women. Not necessarily because men are more competent for leadership but because the role of leadership is still new territory for a lot of women. There are not as many examples for them to follow and there is way more pushback as to whether they should even be attempting it. Because women often feel a lot of pressure to get it all right, they can come across insecure and oversensitive to criticism.
If you’re a guy, don’t let that stop you from being honest and challenging her to greater leadership. At the same time, be willing to listen and understand that her experience of leadership is very different than anything you’ve experienced.
One of the advantages of CoLeadership is having the perspectives and voices of both genders at the leadership table. She’s going to see things you don’t see and look at all of it in a different way. Our marriage counselor described it to us as two lenses on a pair of glasses. Together, they provide depth perception.
You may be tempted to sugar coat things or avoid a difficult conversation in order to have peace in the home. After all, she’s also your wife and you probably want something to go home to that doesn’t feel like work. While side-stepping the difficult areas of leadership is tempting, it’s a shortcut that will come back to bite you. She needs to know you believe in her enough to have honest conversations about both your leadership journeys.
Beyond resources and opportunities, she needs ministry friends. They can be more difficult to find and cultivate. When you do discover them, do whatever you can to invest in those friendships. The people around us are often a bigger part of our leadership development than we realize.
There’s a good chance that, as the guy, you’ve been in the leadership lane a lot longer than she is. You’re used to doing things the way you’ve always done them. Including her might slow everything down or feel unnecessary. But it doesn’t matter how much you tell her you value her leadership if you don’t back it up with your actions.
Maybe CoLeading isn’t the dynamic of your marriage relationship, but we’d challenge you that inviting women to the leadership table is important to the health of your church culture.
What About You?
If you’re a female leader, how has your spouse helped in developing your leadership?