Embracing our leadership role

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

A ministry wife often hesitates to call herself a leader. We shy away from the “leader” label. Yet every single one of us is. Some may like it. Some may not. But it is unwise for us to resist, ignore or deny it. We’re leaders, and so, embracing the leadership role will help us begin to steward it more effectively.

Michael Hyatt shared some powerful realities of leadership that fascinated me. While reading them, I looked in the rear view mirror at my 41 years of leadership primarily as a ministry wife. I could actually recall the landscape of the four types of these realities Hyatt said could play out in leadership life.

He nails it.

As leaders, we possess more power than we think. But we can only use it for good if we understand and embrace it. We need to remind ourselves of these four leadership realities:

  1. People are aware of our role. As much as we may want to be “just one of the troops,” our people can’t separate us from our role in the organization. Even if it’s only subconscious, they know we can advance, hold back or derail their careers. This colors their perception and interactions with us.
  2. People notice our behavior. This is easy to forget. When I was just beginning my career, I noticed how my boss treated his assistant, whether or not he was punctual to meetings and what he did when he was angry. So did my colleagues. We often spoke of it to one another. We noticed the most trivial details.
  3. People amplify our words and actions. This is the scary part. We may think we are just being firm, but our people see us as angry. “He chewed me out,” she reports to her friends. Or we ask a question, and our people interpret this as a lack of trust. Everything gets dialed up a click or two.
  4. People create stories to explain our behavior. This is just human nature. We inherently try to see the patterns behind the facts and create meaning. Sometimes we get the story right; often we get it wrong. Regardless, we knit together the facts and create narratives to make sense of our world.

My sisters in ministry, upon reading these realities you may feel challenged, dismayed or sick to your stomach. I understand all of those responses. But the right response is to pray. Ask God to show you how to lead well for His glory. Ask Him to the confidence and strength you need to be in this leadership role. My sisters in ministry, the wrong response would be to ignore your roles as ministry wives. Do not ignore this reminder that you are a leader who most likely lives with these realities. Like it or not, we are.

Published June 29, 2017

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Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.