Insider Insights: 10 Things Women Leaders Want Men To Know

April 15, 2024

In my journey spanning 25 years of ministry leadership, I’ve had the honor of guiding, mentoring, and championing women from diverse backgrounds, denominations, and stages of life. 

Each woman brought her unique gifts, experiences, and aspirations to the table. Yet, beneath this diversity, common themes emerged — shared desires, fears, and challenges that resonated deeply with women in ministry leadership.

Women want to use their gifts to serve the Kingdom wherever God has placed them. They want to be encouraged, championed, coached, and developed, but more than any of that, there is an underlying fear of either being “too much” or “not enough” to do the work in the ministry. The goal of this is not to put women in a box, but to open the lid a bit so that our brothers in Christ can hear our hearts and get a glimpse of the things that we struggle with every day when we lead. By understanding and embracing these insights, we can foster a more inclusive, supportive, and empowering environment for women in ministry leadership.

So, to foster understanding and unity, let’s dig into the 10 things women leaders want men to know.

  1. Establish Clear Boundaries

While respecting established theological beliefs and governance structures, clarity on organizational boundaries is essential. Women leaders crave transparency on what is deemed acceptable within the ministry. Clear policies, organizational charts, and handbooks mitigate confusion, enabling talented female leaders to step into their roles confidently without fear of overstepping boundaries.

  1. Know Her as a Sister

Recognize women leaders as fellow siblings in Christ, each with her unique journey, aspirations, and struggles. Engage in genuine dialogue to understand her needs and how best to support her growth within the ministry. Avoid blanket assumptions and stereotypes. Instead, embrace the diversity of gifts and experiences women bring to leadership roles.

  1. Words Matter

Be mindful of the impact of your words on female leaders. Whether offering encouragement or constructive criticism, choose your language carefully. Model respectful communication and uphold women’s contributions within the ministry through intentional affirmation and recognition.

  1. Navigate Humor with Sensitivity

Humor can build camaraderie, but it must be wielded with care. Recognize that societal norms and sensitivities evolve over time. Humor that was once acceptable may now be perceived differently. Respect feedback from female team members regarding the appropriateness of jokes and adjust behavior accordingly. By cultivating an atmosphere of sensitivity and respect, male leaders can ensure that humor unites rather than divides.

  1. Acknowledge Hidden Burdens

Women leaders often bear unseen burdens — personal challenges, societal pressures, and the weight of expectations. Create a safe space where these struggles can be shared and supported, fostering empathy and understanding within the ministry community. By acknowledging and addressing these hidden burdens, male leaders can foster empathy and understanding within the ministry.

  1. Provide Support Against Opposition

Stand in solidarity with female leaders facing opposition, whether from within or outside the church community. Address instances of discrimination or harassment promptly and unequivocally, ensuring a culture of respect and inclusion for all members of the ministry team.

  1. Normalize Emotional Expression

Challenge stereotypes around emotional expression in leadership roles. Create space for women to authentically express their emotions, recognizing the inherent value of vulnerability and emotional intelligence within ministry contexts. By creating a culture where emotions are valued and respected, male leaders can foster deeper connections and empathy within the ministry.

  1. Promote Gender Diversity

Actively advocate for increased representation of women in leadership positions across all levels of the ministry. Foster a culture that celebrates diversity in ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, and gender. By championing diversity and inclusion, male leaders can create a richer, more dynamic ministry environment.

  1. Champion Female Leaders

Take proactive steps to champion and uplift women leaders within the ministry. Publicly acknowledge their contributions and provide opportunities for professional development and growth, fostering a culture of inclusivity and innovation. Championing women in leadership contributes to a more diverse and innovative organizational culture.

  1. Invest in Development

Prioritize the intentional development of female leaders, acknowledging and addressing existing biases. Offer opportunities for networking, mentorship, and skill-building tailored to the unique needs and aspirations of women in ministry. Investing in women’s leadership ensures a strong pipeline of qualified leaders for future roles. It also demonstrates the commitment to developing and promoting talent from within.

We want to serve, lead, and go wherever God sends us, but we would love to do this with the support of the whole body of Christ, not just the other women around us. When we are all working within our gifts, the Kingdom wins. And no matter where we stand theologically, we can agree on this, he is worth every uncomfortable conversation that might take place from this list. 

It’s not easy, for any of us, male or female, right now. But, if we can decide to be brothers and sisters in Christ and care for, encourage, and support each other in this way, then we can release some of the chains that are holding us back and run forward to do the work he has for each of us. It’s beautiful. It’s messy. It’s complicated, but it is so worth it. 

The women I serve come from all walks of life, from all denominations, and from all over the world and we all simply want to do the work that he has called us to do well . . . wherever he places us. We want to be able to get in the trenches with our brothers in Christ and work of telling everyone about the Good News of Jesus. Let’s do the work together and trust God for the harvest.

The heart of this article is that it would be a launching point for discussions among teams. To open the door of dialogue. It is in no way an exhaustive list of things “all women” wish “all men” knew, but a place to get started. I would love to encourage you to take this list and go over it together with your staff or leadership. Embrace the messy, awkward, and uncomfortable to get to the other side of this conversation, where we get a better understanding of each other, and then let’s commit to doing the work to become better together.

Melissa Mashburn

Melissa Mashburn

Melissa Mashburn is a respected author, speaker, and ministry coach with more than 25 years of dedicated service to local churches. Throughout her career, Melissa has contributed her expertise to church staff teams of varying sizes, ranging from 90 to more than 44,000 in weekend attendance. As the Co-Founder of the Mashburns Consulting Group and the Executive Director of Ministry Chick, Melissa is at the forefront of empowering women worldwide. Leading a community of more than 3,600 women, she is committed to providing resources and fostering connections to help female leaders thrive in the church. Her latest book, Ministry Chick: Find Your Community, Own Your Leadership, Take Your Step, reflects her passion for empowering women in ministry. Melissa's personal life is anchored in a 30-year marriage to her best friend, Matt. Recently making the move from Kentucky to the vibrant state of Texas, Melissa continues to inspire and impact the world of ministry leadership both online and at the local church.  
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