This series is by Alice. In Nancy Beach’s chapter entitled, “Welcome to the Boys??? Club” (from Gifted to Lead) women leaders are encouraged to develop character first: humility, self-confidence, humor, integrity. She then explains “the freight of being iconic” – the reality that many who find themselves in the minority experience the weight of representing their entire race or gender well. As I was reading this section, I was listening to the media talk about Barak Obama ??? about to make the climactic speech of the Democratic Convention as the first African-American presidential candidate ??? and on the 45th anniversary of MLK???s “I have a dream speech!” Talk about the freight of being iconic!!! Giving a “good enough” speech would have been a disaster. His only option was to knock one out of the park. One of the most important questions being asked about women in ministry … at the bottom of this post.
Beach wonders if women with non-traditional gifting in the evangelical church carry this freight around every day. As I read this, I thought, “No wonder I can barely drag myself home after preaching 3 times on a Sunday morning … I not only carry the weight of teaching God???s Word, but I carry it in an iconic way; I???m a ???woman teacher.???” I know that good, very often, is not good enough.
At the same time we feel the pressure to perform well, many women feel that being self-confident and strong is not an option because it is seen as too threatening. Humorously, Beach quotes Amy Poehler from SNL who says, “Women are often made to feel kind of audacious if they decide to be directors or producers or head writers [replace with preacher, or teacher, or head pastor!]. There???s this weird thing sometimes where we feel we???re taking up too much room!”
What do you think? The freight of being iconic … linked with the fear of coming across too strong, or too smart … Does it create an almost impossible double-bind? Any of you experience this?
Next: A few pieces of advice on working with men, a few unspoken truths about leading in “man world,” a humorous section called, “Stuff Male Leaders Never Deal With,” and a very serious challenge to male readers …