All around the world, there are women who are capable of great things, but they are afraid to step out and try. This is the central argument of Halee Gray Scott’s debut book, Dare Mighty Things: Mapping the Challenges of Leadership for Christian Women (Zondervan). Author, wife, mother, scholar, and global leadership expert, Scott focuses her research on the experiences of women in leadership and the obstacles they face. In addition to sharing her findings, Scott’s book casts a larger vision for women in the church and calls women to the faithful stewardship of their gifts. Her.meneutics contributor Sharon Hodde Miller spoke with Scott about the difficulties facing women in leadership.
Women don’t always think of themselves as leaders. Why are they hesitant?
Two things contribute to this problem. First, the business world has dominated the conversation on leadership. We see many churches adapting business principles to the church context. Whenever we take secular leadership and apply it to the church, we have an idea of leadership that is very masculine, very business-oriented, very “get things done.” Women tend, instead, to organize around people and causes. It’s hard for women, especially Christian women, to relate to the type of leadership models we most often talk about.
Second, many people don’t look at women and think to intentionally develop their leadership gifts. But women need that encouragement. Women need someone to look at them and say, “Hey, I see potential in you.”
What would be a more Christian understanding of leadership, one that transcends male and female?
Authentic Christian leadership is more cause-centered—around the cause of Christ—and focused more on developing people than on developing principles. It also takes a team approach. In the Gospels, Jesus built a team of people to go out and deliver the Good News. It wasn’t just one person in charge.
Christian leadership pays attention to the people and to the cause. It’s not about building a bigger church or audience, but rather about bringing people to experience and understand God.
Women have made gains both inside and outside the church, but you state that “women’s advancement in leadership has altogether stalled.” How so?
Research has shown this is true—even in business sectors. The progress women are making is not that remarkable compared to the progress they made 15 to 20 years ago. Within the church, this is happening for several reasons.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Interview by Sharon Hodde Miller