Is All Male Okay?


Dr. Jackie Roese shares her thoughts about women and men in leadership roles.

A group of men meet on Sunday morning to pray (intercede) for their church. Male elders meet to discuss issues for their church. That’s good right? We want men who lead, pray and think. Yes, we do.

A while back, I sat among three elders who shared why they dismissed one of their staff members. I was told the reason they dismissed this particular staff member was due to this individual’s lack of humility, teachability and strong personality that intimidated others. Since this staff member had been on staff for a long time I wondered if this was the first time they noticed these characteristics or if these traits had been a part of this person’s life all along. No, they admitted, this person had the underpinnings of these characteristics through out their time of service.

So, I wondered, why was it an issue now but not earlier? I was informed it was because it had become heightened. Hmmm… I wondered what in this person's life might have perpetuated this heightened behavior? When I raised that question the elders looked at me like deer in head lights. They hadn’t considered that. I started to suggest several big blows this individual had encountered over the past year and wondered if these events contributed to this person's heightened situation. There was silence in the room while light bulbs lit up in their heads.

So, I wonder what’s missing when women aren’t present? And, just what kind of story are we telling when women are asked to be less and step back so that men will step forward?

I’ve heard it said, more than once, that when women lead men abdicate. The conclusion? Women need to step back, hold back so men will step forward and lead. I struggle with this conclusion for many reasons. First, it doesn’t hold true in any other arena. In the corporate world, almost always, men lead even when women are present. Second, male only leadership sets the bar lower than God intended. It’s just too small a narrative.

When we form men only groups (whether that be in prayer or as elders) in hopes of developing male “leadership” we state men can’t be men when women are present. Masculinity is pitted against femininity. God didn’t do this. In the garden he said it’s not good for man to be alone. He brought forth woman, someone more like man than any other creature but different, to bring man out of self & into community. Woman’s presence helped man see life fully.

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