[In an interview about women in ministry, Dawn Stephens answers our questions about how to overcome obstacles in multigenerational women’s leadership. She offers strategies on how to empower women from all walks of life to lead one another by the power of the Holy Spirit.]
Q: What obstacles do you personally face as a leader? And what are your strategies for facing these obstacles?
Obstacle#1: Separation of Generations
I think one of the obstacles that a lot of women’s leaders face is that we just segment our women too much. There’s just for whatever reason this tendency to segment women and women’s groups by age or by life stage. So, when we start a new women’s group at Brook Hills, we try not to separate older and younger women. Typically the group is segmented more by geographic location or by time of day, but not by life stage. We have a few groups during the week where childcare is available for young mothers led by older mothers, but there’s not an age range for the group. When we start a new group it’s for every woman, all women, whoever wants to come.
Strategy: Bring them together.
Create environments, gatherings, where there are women of all ages and life stages, where it’s easy for them to come: not expensive, not out of the works of the normal traffic pattern of life with child care available, and teach Titus 2 in different ways and different formats- especially in your older women’s groups- have peers speak to peers, older women speaking to older women.
Obstacle #2: Feeling needed
I think the enemy is what we have to overcome. He has sold our women, especially our older women a lie… “You’ve done your work.You kept the nursery, your babies are grown. They don’t need you.” No, they do.
Tweet this: The enemy has sold older women a lie, “You’ve done your work. They don’t need you.” No, they do. #vergewomen
Strategy#2: Speak truth to overcome the enemy
It will take some time for the older women to know they’re welcome, and for the younger women to know they’re welcome. Statistics say that people have to hear information ten times before they get it, which means you will have to do a lot of reiterating. The older women will want to know they are needed and, valued, and have something to give to younger women. Going to their small group, or inviting them one-on-one, looking into their faces and assuring them that yes, you do want them, you do love them, and you do need them with your younger women.
Obstacle #3: Intimidation..
In a gathering of our women’s leaders, we had three of our older women speak on the topic of why older women don’t pour into younger women, which were: (1) fear of time, (2)fear of transparency (3) fear of talents. Also, especially with your older women, the word “mentor” sounds scary because they think they need to be a super-godly saint.
Strategy #3: Monitor language and encourage one another.
I avoid the word ‘mentor’ and use the phrase “godly friend”, or “older wiser friend” instead. That way they don’t feel they need to be a super-godly saint, but an older, wiser friend.
During the gathering of women’s leaders, three women 60+ spoke to the whole group about the 3 fears (time, transparency, talents), and shared with those women how they did have time, and they could be transparent, and they did have a talent.
Empower them to step into mentor relationships with younger women. Let them step into natural relationships and encourage them by saying, “You have the Holy Spirit and you have the word of God, and love. That’s all you need.”
Tweet this: You have the Holy Spirit and you have the word of God, and love. That’s all you need. #vergewomen