We Are Better Together
Domeniek L. Harris
Are two heads really better than one? Does anything with two heads really resemble a monster? It all depends on how we look at it.
English writer John Heywood actually coined “Two heads are better than one” in 1546. I am sure he did not realize he was speaking prophetically. But two heads together can work only when God is at the center. King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, wrote, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
I have had the privilege and honor to share leadership with some phenomenal men and women in the body of Christ. Each of these experiences incited growth as a person and as a leader. My husband and I share the responsibility of pastoral leadership; we are as different as night and day. Making it work effectively has taken some crucifixion, prayer, fasting, and humility from both of us. It works beautifully now.
Additionally, I share leadership roles in two outreach ministries to leaders. By His Side Ministries is completely led by women. In some places, people would consider women in total leadership a recipe for disaster. It has been quite the contrary; I have learned more about myself and the women I serve with than I ever would have learned just sitting next to them in a worship setting. I learned that women can work together if they allow God to work out their insecurities, areas of immaturity, character flaws, and sin nature-yes, sin nature.
Another ministry, When Pastors Pray, is lead by both men and women. Many people say pastors cannot work together, but that is a lie from the devil. We make it work. God has entrusted pastors with a great deal of authority. While it can be difficult for a pastor to submit to the authority of another pastor, doing so is a form of accountability and a Biblical principle. We demonstrate a great leadership skill: the ability to follow.
They Lead, We Lead
Most leaders lead according to how they are genetically and mentally wired. Plurality of leadership is effective when we are able to balance our leadership style with that of our co-laborers. God made us different on purpose, and he wired us to need each other to be effective.
There is so much research around right-brain and left-brain thinking and how they apply to leadership. Truthfully, I have seen these differences manifested in every capacity in which I have served with other leaders. I believe that most of us are a combination of both, but in certain situations we exhibit traits of either left- or right-brain dominance. For example, in certain situations my husband’s right brain dominates. He sees things in big pictures (a visionary); I need to see the steps to get there. Often, I get stressed the moment he starts talking vision because my mind sees sequential steps. He casts the vision and I walk it out. We often agree on what should be done, but how to get there is a horse of another color. He is long-suffering with people and circumstances; I am let’s-get-it-done-and-over-with. Amazingly, God knew that we would balance each other out. I have learned-and continue to learn-patience.
Although I am yet learning patience, my patience was tried recently during a board meeting. My husband wanted to “try” someone out for a leadership role. I “discerned,” if you will, that it was going to be a disaster. I have to admit I gave him that “I cannot believe you are going to do this” look, and of course he ignored me. His rationale made no sense to me, and my reluctance seemed simplistic to him. As time progressed, we came to an understanding. We were both right; we just could not see it at the time. The “disaster” was minimized because we got on the same page. It would look pretty silly to have the main leaders behaving like juvenile delinquents. We both handled the emotions behind closed doors, discussed how the situation could have been handled differently, and acknowledged the lesson we both learned. I am learning to trust his judgment of people more, even when I feel they are not ready. After all, my husband is the senior pastor; God gave him the ultimate responsibility.
Leading with a team of all women as a younger, immature, soulish woman would have been chaotic from start to finish. I have now been in ministry for close to two decades. My husband served in youth ministry in our first ministry assignment. At that time I was in my early twenties and very much immature, so you can imagine the arguments I had, the points I needed to prove, the respect I tried to force. Looking back, I remember getting into power struggles because some of the people I was charged to lead were my peers. Those were fun years. I was anointed but I was so immature. I was just beginning to evolve as a wife and mother, and God in his infinite wisdom decided I was to lead in ministry. God sure had a sense of humor. As a young leader, I felt like I had to demonstrate “my anointing” to gain the respect of my peers and those who had gone before me. When they would “gently” correct or overtly “criticize,” I always had an explanation. Trial and wisdom have taught me some things just are not worthy of a response. And who has time to prove what God already knows, has already justified, and has already called?
Years have passed by and now my “flesh” undergoes frequent crucifixion and my character continues to be purified. Leading with a team of women has become a melody of miracles. We each serve with our husbands but have committed to serve alongside each other. We are diverse in denomination, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and culture. Our goal to minister to women who are married to men in ministry, and we always agree on the mission of the ministry, but how to fulfill it requires a little bit of work. Our leadership styles are as different as oil and water, as are our communication styles. But each of the women I lead with has undergone such a process, allowing her insecurities and childishness to be singed, and ministering together is easy.
When we make decisions, I am usually the first to offer suggestions about direction. One leader always thinks fiscally, every decision for her is made with the question “Are we being good stewards?” This is necessary for success but can be frustrating to a strict visionary. Another leader leads with a high emotional quotient, taking into account the needs of all involved, especially “How God will feel about what we are doing.” She is the heartbeat of the group. The logical leader keeps us focused: “This is necessary, but is it necessary now?” We have realized that it takes all of us to embrace what each leader is conveying and understanding. God has wired them purposely for this assignment, and God’s manifested glory is the outcome.
Leading ministry with different pastors can be atrocious, especially if one does not recognize their assignment to the organization or God’s purpose for the organization. When Pastors Pray is a ministry that ministers to pastors and their families struggling with burnout, depression, and suicide. We have incredible diversity, and the diversity always manifests during the decision-making process or when opportunities for ministry arise. Some leaders are very relaxed, which could irritate the leaders who operate on “go.” There are leaders who are delivered from “scheduling bondage,” which means it will get done. But the leaders who are “it must happen now” can feel slighted. Does this sound like a recipe for a WWF match? Maybe, but it works for us. We are comfortable in our leadership styles, we have learned how to be humble and we work as a team. Most important, we have learned our value and the value of each other as leaders.
When Problems Arise
I realize I have presented a utopia. It appears that everything is rosy and wonderful. Truthfully, it is wonderful because we have grown past the “me” mentality. We each understand that to fulfill our God-given assignments, we need each other.
Problems do arise when co-leading, often due to miscommunication, lack of communication, or no communication. If communication barriers cause rifts in leadership, it is the responsibility of leaders to analyze where the breakdown occurred and begin the process of restoration. Most issues can be resolved through repentance and forgiveness. Others require adjustment as needed.
Last year, the ministry I lead with women had to make a major shift; it was painful. But the shift was necessary for more growth. In order for us to continue to move in the direction God was leading, he allowed problems in which feelings might get hurt, misunderstandings never seemed to get resolved, and people moved on to do other things for God. Unfortunately, separation sometimes is the only solution. When leaders realize separation is necessary to stay in integrity and covenant with God, the transition is less disastrous and the organization can move forward more effectively.
We must understand that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are the called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). Tumultuous experiences teach lessons that we otherwise would avoid. They teach character, and most important, they teach us how much we really need God. It has been the disastrous experiences that have taught me humility, perseverance, unconditional love, faithfulness, and true forgiveness. God does not waste any experience. If I embrace what God allows, I am better for it; if I rebel I end up operating in bitterness and resentment. I enjoy being free to lead in God’s kingdom. I have learned to let go and LIVE.
God’s leaders have always worked together, and God was victorious. Why should now be any different? Adam and Eve had dominion in the earth and were given the responsibility to populate mankind. They had a setback, but through Jesus was victory. Abraham and Sarah were chosen by God to lead a nation that would walk by faith; they got off course, but through Isaac was victory. Moses, Aaron, and Miriam were chosen to lead the children of Israel. They had many disasters, but there was victory. Paul and Silas co-labored and were thrown in prison, but there was victory. Aquila and Priscilla worked together with Paul and taught Apollos a more excellent way.
Victory is always achieved when we labor together, allowing God to direct. When we fail to work together, fail to deal with our issues and insecurities, we will end up like Saul. Jesus could have turned the world upside-down alone, but he chose twelve men to help him. He demonstrated that where there is unity, there is strength; he demonstrated that world changes happen only when world changers come together.
Will you be a loner, or will you unite with other laborers and be a world changer? It is up to you.
Domeniek L. Harris is an author, speaker, educator, women’s ministry leader, Bible study teacher, and founder of By His Side Ministries, a multicultural, inter-denominational, and international ministry for ministry wives.
From: www.todayschristianwoman.com web site. April 2015.
The above article, “We Are Better Together ” was written by Domeniek L. Harris. The article was excerpted from www.todayschristianwoman.com.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”