Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin

Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin is about bringing together some of the leading 
women in children's ministry to share their knowledge and passion. 
For us to gather and learn from each sharpen each other.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17

on being bossy {or, a women leader}
- Amy Dolan

It all started with my grandpa, Papa Paul. Legend has it that he told my parents when I was just 3 years old that I was a leader, and that they could expect to work for me someday. Unfortunately, Papa Paul passed away when I was 7 years old so I never had the chance to discuss what he specifically saw in me, but my suspicion is that he saw a 3 year old who loved to boss around her parents and her little baby sister, used her charm to get what she wanted, and most importantly never took the word “no” as an official answer to any question.

Here's the thing: I've always been a woman and I've always been a leader, and occasionally I’ve been more boss than leader. I grew up at Willow Creek where women leaders were all around me. Nancy Beach and Nancy Ortberg consistently taught and led, and as a young leader, their stories of sitting at the table with the big boys were legendary. "Did you hear what Nancy said to Bill?" was all too common a phrase amongst my female counterparts. We'd share whispers during staff meetings, all the while thinking and longing in our deepest core that someday we could be like the Nancys. Tough, smart, creative, relational, and respected amongst the male leaders of the church as they led uniquely as women.

Because, I think, a boss isn't someone who tells people what to do, and commands power by using her position. Rather, a leader is a facilitator and a guide, someone who commits to her goals and her team, and becomes successful as her team grows in success.

And, sometimes I fear we’ve become too bossy. As we desperately try to find our place in the church as women leaders, imagining the only way we’ll be respected and followed is if we speak loudly from a place of power – by being the boss, instead of leader, to our teams.

This is our great challenge. 
How to lead as ourselves, as women with God-given gifts for leadership.

While I was in Bible college I started working part-time at Willow. It was a weird, wonderful time in my life. During the week I attended Bible and theology classes that reinforced this message to me: these classes are useful and good and helpful for your ministry to women and children. But, don't bother applying these lessons to leading men or really, providing any type of overall leadership to the church.

 And, the whole thing was actually pretty funny because every Saturday afternoon I would leave my downtown Chicago dorm room and travel down I-94 West to Willow Creek Church to lead a small team of volunteers in the children's ministry. And, most of the volunteers on the team were men. Older men. It was scandalous. And, to make matters worse, I'd return to church on Sunday morning to lead another team of volunteers who were also men. How I ever walked out of Moody with an actual diploma is still a mystery to me. Maybe the Dean's office was unaware of my terribly unbiblical behavior.

And every weekend, as I’d drive to church, I’d remind myself that God had created me to lead. I had to tune out the overwhelming voices in my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to lead like the male examples I saw. I had to be me. A women with a different voice, and a different style. But a leader, nonetheless.

And every day since then, I’ve led. In churches, at not-for-profits, and in my own company. Somedays I’m more boss than leader, and I find on those days, I’m trying to be someone I’m not. I imagine others want me to lead more powerfully, and louder, and with more authority. But, none of those things are me. I’m a team leader, an encourager, and an inspirational leader. And those I lead need me to lead as myself.

And, this is our wonderful advantage of leading in the church. We have something special: a different voice. When we speak, our voice sounds different than men. When we lead, our gifts looks different than men. When we guide teams, our facilitation appears different than men. Not better. Different. And special. And necessary. Because all with gifts must lead for the sake of the church.

Lead strong, women. Embrace the challenge. Leading in the church is rarely easy. And, we’ve yet to completely find our footing and our place. But, lead strong. And lead from your advantage. Yourself.

Because the church needs your voice and your leadership. Every day.

Amy Dolan is Consultant, Blogger, and Leader for Lemon Lime Kids a children’s ministry consulting company. Amy also leads curriculum for What’s in the Bible? and Directs the What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry Project. 
Find her at: and on Twitter @adolan.


  1. I LOVE this! Amy, you are a woman after my own heart. Keep on leading! :) (And being bossy! ;) )

    1. Me too Mindy! She is pretty spectacular in leading and also as a friend. Blessings!

  2. Thanks again for joining us for the Southern Mama's blog hop, Wendy!! I have so enjoyed getting to know you and reading your blog!

    1. Thanks Megan! Love joining you and all the Southern Mamas each week! Blessings!

  3. Well said, Amy!! Thanks, Wendy, for arranging this! Such a blessing!

    1. Such a wonderful thing to have you all agree to share here Barbara! So loved what Amy had to share and looking forward to yours as well. Blessings!

    2. c'mon, Barbara! looking forward to your post --


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