By Rebecca Hopkins, Paraclete Mission Group – Writer about nonprofit work. http://www.rebeccahopkins.org.
This article is part of the series Pursuing Partnership: Men and Women in Ministry.
Part 22: Profile – Cindy Lopez. “Men, Let Women be Part of Your Circle”
Executive female leaders are few and far between in Christian ministries. But if men who are leaders are willing to mentor the women in their organizations, women can grow into those positions. That’s what Cindy Lopez of Every Nation has learned firsthand in the mentee relationships she’s enjoyed with leaders in her organization.
“There’s a mentoring gap for women who want to step out into leadership positions,” she said. “Because there are so few women and even fewer women of color currently in these higher positions, it becomes much more difficult for the upcoming women leaders to receive the natural mentoring relationships that occur in the workplace. We want to grow and develop our leadership skills and step out more, but it doesn’t happen because we don’t have enough women leaders yet in those higher positions to pave the way for us and help lift our leadership skills.”
Lopez started in a volunteer role at Every Nation. But over the years, she’s taken on more responsibilities, positions and influence and learned much along the way from a boss willing to invest in her.
“He values me as part of the team…values my opinion and input,” she said. “He’s always pulling me in and teaching me the ‘why’ behind things. Men, let women be part of your circle.”
Leadership is more than just position. It’s about influence, Lopez said. So, women should start with the influence they have in whatever their current role is and grow from there.
“In my career, I have learned that I didn’t need to wait for that title or leadership position to lead,” said Lopez, whose main title is executive assistant for this church-planting ministry. She’s also part of a team that leads assessments for pastors who want to plant churches. “Even without the title, there are still places that I can lead and still places I can influence. It’s OK to step out into different areas outside of your current position or role.”
Every Nation’s three-day assessment center leads pastors and their spouses through a 360-degree assessment process that allows them to evaluate both their potential and obstacles for planting churches.
“We want to help couples discern if they gifted and ready to plant a new church that can be successful,” she said. “I’m the only one that got involved in the assessment team who wasn’t a pastor or previous church-planter but the director felt I had a gift to assess. I felt honored to be part of the team.”
One of Lopez’s gifts is to see “pitfalls” in a plan: “What about this?” This ability to be “deliberative” is key to making sure a plan is sound. Lopez encourages women to grow in confidence in their giftings, to trust that God has made them to think the way they think and see the world a certain way on purpose.
“I think women probably tend more to compare themselves to other people and other women,” she said. “They may see somebody who’s skilled in some area, and think, ‘if I can’t be like that, I can’t really be a leader.’ We have different things that we can bring to the table. We shouldn’t be ashamed of those things that we’re strong in.”
And with that confidence comes a responsibility for women to mentor other women, something Lopez saw done well at the Women’s Development Track retreats. WDT is a partner with Missio Nexus in the development of female leaders and nonprofit staff.
“Attending the Women’s Development Track really filled that mentoring gap for me,” she said. “You don’t realize how much you get out of talking and relating with women who are years ahead of you and have already conquered the hills you are yet to face. They have wisdom. They have those things you haven’t been able to walk in yet. It’s great to be around them and learn from them.”
This article is submitted by Wendy Wilson of Missio Nexus and of Women’s Development Track. Women’s Development Track is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.