5 comments Written on May 3rd, 2016     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
IMG_2539Rev. Cathy Kaminski is the lead pastor at Trinity Community Church in Cincinnati, OH. Her entire life she has had the privilege of knowing and being influenced by strong women. Her hope is that she can follow and be that example for others.

football on green grass

Recently I was at a soccer game for one of the littles in our church. Soccer “game” is a loose term, it was more like a swarm of bees running after the ball. Or maybe ants on something sweet…they were a bit slower than bees. It was most certainly entertaining. The coach, try as he did, had a difficult time explaining the fundamentals to the four year olds. But what was more entertaining was sitting with the family.

I sat on a blanket with grandma and dad as they desperately encouraged their loved one to run in the direction of play. The dad would shout out helpful tips, then his mom would correct him. It was hilarious. Each generation passing down wisdom. Each generation choosing to listen or not.

The dad looked at me and said, “Everyone in my life knows what’s best for me.” He was commenting on the fact that be is blessed to have a family of strong women who often give him their two cents. Now here he was, putting his two cents in for his son. I couldn’t help but laugh.

But what struck me was something quite different. This dad is a new leader in our church. Their family have been coming for a little over three years and this past January he was elected to our council. He is such a strong voice and we are tremendously blessed to have him on our team. I never really thought about the people in his life that taught and shaped him, helping him to become the leader he is today. For this dad a huge influence in his personhood and leadership are the strong females in his world.

This got me thinking. What or rather who does it take to build up the next generation of strong leaders? What does it take to be a person of influence and as that person, how do we build up others? Sometimes in discussing this we talk about gender, but I think we might be missing the boat if we limit the discussion to this perspective.

Does having a female leader somehow diminish the capacity for strong male leaders? This is a question I have been asked at different points in my life. On the outset, this posed question always rubs me the wrong way. Do we take the time to ask the reverse? Does a male leader somehow diminish the capacity for strong female leaders? I mean that just seems ridiculous! However, when I breathe and take a step back I can be honest enough with myself to say sometimes yes. But not in the ways you might think.

Hear me out: we all read that question with a unique life experience that colors our understanding. Growing up in a conservative complementarian church, (where only men could be head leaders), I heard it from the pulpit that having strong male leaders was key to the development of younger men. Without male role models the younger generation missed out. What hurt me was the lack of awareness for young women. We too miss out when we do not see strong female leaders in the church. Yet, there is a whole other component of this conversation. When we encamp this discussion in gender, we lose sight of the greater definition of a strong leader. We forget that both genders are integral to the encouragement and building up of the younger generation and it is not so much having a male leader for young men and a female leader for young women, but have diversity in leadership and voice to give example and teaching to all.

I looked at this dad, who has been surrounded by strong women his whole life. This did not diminish his capacity for leadership. I would argue it equipped him to find his voice and become the leader he is today.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in gender that we forget God is first and foremost calling us to be HUMAN. And as humans we embody the Creator’s image and share that love, mercy and justice with the world. That is what it means to live out our faith and that is a crucial piece of what it means to be a leader in the church.

We need strong leaders, male and female. We need leaders that know the importance of making space for other leaders. Men who intentionally seek out female leaders and women who seek out male leaders. We need men and women pastors who set the example of strength which equips others to follow. We need to know that God calls and equips all people to have a role in the church and when we become homogenous, in any way, the overall community misses out.

It is not about how female leadership can diminish the capacity on male leaders or vice versa, but it is about being strong and encouraging and teaching others to find their strength!

This dad is a strong leader. He is also a person of tremendous faith. The people of integrity in his life helped to build up his personhood and skills for leadership. Looking at this beautiful family I saw a picture of strength building up strength. Males and females. And that’s a precious gift.


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5 comments “Strong”

thanks, Kathy, for this wonderful and important word of reminder and appreciation. You have captured a wonderful description of how churches can and should be!  It fits very well with our Develop A Deborah project.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 

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Hi Brian, I love the Deborah project!  We need to intentionally build up and make opportunities for new leaders.  Thanks for YOUR efforts and leadership in leading the charge!

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Thanks Cathy – It is God’s call, not our idea, that men and women should both lead and that often that will mean lead together. Everything from the creation story to the witnesses at the empty tomb speaks of the ways God uses both men and women to both lead. You’ve addressed the questions women leaders have been asked so, so many times. There is a call, there is room, and there is a need for all who follow Jesus to lead in our broken world. Thanks for this reminder.

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And thank you Catherine!  The witness of the empty tomb is a beautiful picture for how God uses men and women to bring forth his message of salvation and hope!

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Thanks Cathy for your insight and reminder that both genders are needed for the development of strong female and male leadership in the church.  Well stated.

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