Thursday, October 31, 2013

Including Women in Leadership

I wrote in a previous post about we needed to change the way we did things if we want to really include women in top level leadership. The challenge is to use the skills that women bring - no, to desire the skills that women bring!

I wondered what a synod would look like if we got this right. I suspect that not only women find big meetings like synods inefficient. We spend a lot of time on detail and very little time in meaningful conversation - partly because the detail just grows and overwhelms and partly because the discussion process is unwieldy.

Broadly speaking, I would say that women bring the skill of consultation and of facilitating discussion. Women like everyone to be heard and to have a chance to give input to a process. Men, broadly speaking, have the ability to make decisions and take risks. These are very broad, forgive me, I know that these are not always true. The point is, however, that planning requires consultation and decision-making and there is probably value in separating these out.

Certain leaders (all male) in my circuit think that consultation means telling people what they have decided to do! This troubles both men and women!

The other part of deciding on a plan is investigation. I don't have any feel as to whether that is 'male' or 'female'. But decisions cannot be discussed or made without information.

So the process should be investigation, discussion, decision but with the various stages led by people gifted in those areas.

The thought of applying this to a synod is overwhelming. But there must be a way!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I have to admit to feeling quite stressed about moving house at the moment (my husband would say that this is putting it mildly!) We are still waiting to see where we will be living. The flexibility of finding our own accommodation is great, and we are fortunate, but it is stressful!

When (if?) we move this will be the sixth house that I have lived in, in seven years! Last December was the only time we didn't move in the period. But somehow, this time is the most stressful and it should be the best move!

So many exclamation marks - perhaps I am trying to lift my spirits. Mostly trying to trust God - which I do at the core, but . . .

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Women in Leadership

Yesterday we had a get-together of women ministers from the Cape of Good Hope district. It was a casual after-another-meeting affair and apparently most people forgot that it was planned. I don't mind supporting other women in ministry, but generally it is not a priority for me and I suspect that any ambitions that I may have are thwarted by my lack of ability and not by my gender. Not that I am feeling particularly thwarted!

The thing is that we talk about the need to get more women in leadership and vaguely (or passionately, depending on personality) express concern, but never seem to get to grips with why there are not more women in leadership. Specifically we were mentioning women ministers in church structures.

For me, it is no mystery. I have no desire to be part of this leadership and perhaps others feel the same way. Graeme Codrington writes this in an article called Why women are a problem for business:

One of the main reasons that women are not making it into senior leadership positions is because they don't want to. It's not a capability issue; it's a choice. And the reason they're choosing not to is because they don't want to play a man's game in a man's world.

And that is simply it. I can't engage in high-level church leadership easily because I don't have a sufficiently aggressive or ambitious personality. I achieve things in other ways. I don't enjoy scrambling to make myself heard or to be taken seriously. I don't know if that is because I am a woman or not and so perhaps we are not even beginning to ask the right questions. Do we perhaps just need people in leadership to have different qualities?

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes the following in a Harvard Business Review blog called Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?

In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women. [hyperlinks removed]

I don't think we are going to get more women into leadership by continuing to do things in the same old way and expecting women to fit in. We need new ways that somehow combine the strengths of men and women - and also the strengths of more introverted personalities and more extroverted personalities.

Let's stop asking how to get women involved, but rather ask how  we can change the processes so that women are able to participate without compromising their natural personalities.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Buying houses

I have decided that selling one's house and buying another is a most stressful thing. While we are really hoping to be able to have our own house here in Cape Town, there are so many things that could go wrong. And hiccups and hurdles abound.

We have enjoyed being free of debt for a number of years . . . and now we must be careful not to lose or waste that which we have worked for so carefully. We may need to take on temporary debt.

Sigh. Is it worth it? I think so, I hope so!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Quack Quack

I am kind of proud of my son who was awarded the Dux medal for 2013 at Bergvliet High School yesterday. To God be the glory.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Knowing your community

I suppose the best way to know your community is to get out there and meet them. But the census data can also tell a lot. Earlier this year I found an analysis of Mitchell's Plain from the 2001 census that was extremely helpful. Now there are two other resources from the more recent 2011 census.

The Cape Town City website has all sorts of analyses that are most helpful. I have used the one where data is analysed by suburb to check out the Parow  area where I will be working next year.

A fun one that covers the whole country and summarises the census into dots on a map can be found at It is a pity that the first choice on this one is to look at things by race. I found language fascinating and household income interesting too.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Heaviness and Lightness

The past few days have been quite hard. Those things that other ministers have to deal with landed on my doorstep. I want to say 'just when I had planned on getting stuck into my PhD', but that is callous when one remembers that what are problems or difficulties for me are crises and times of pain for other people. And for me. I haven't really figured out how not to totally enter into their pain.
And then there are the leaders who don't understand and bring out anger in me. And other leaders who also feel the pain.
But I think we are nearly through the worst.
God's timing is good. Just when I have started to make my way back into serious praying this happens - and I have been able to use what learned to give the load to Jesus to carry. So heaviness, but also lightness. God is good.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Internet Speed

There is an interesting article at Lifehacker about checking internet speed. People around the world get way, way, way faster internet than I do. You can check the speed of your connection
This is what I got with Telkom ADSL in Mitchells Plain:

The people on Lifehacker got so much better results I can hardly believe it! Any South Africans willing to share their speeds in the comments?

Ministers' Retreat

I have spent the last three days on a retreat or breakaway with the other ministers of the Cape of Good Hope District of the Methodist Church. While I never like being away from home this was time well-spent.

This was my fourth retreat in the district and the best thing for me is that I am actually getting to know the other ministers. The retreats last year were difficult because the faces were nearly all strange to me. There are still some ministers for whom I haven't quite managed to put name to face, but most I can identify!

Retreats aren't really the time of quiet and restoration that the term suggests. There is business and conferencing to do, which are necessary (unless one prefers a top down approach without discussion and buy in!)

However I think we are moving towards having more growth time. This retreat we had retired Anglican bishop Geoff Quinlan speaking to us on the book of Colossians and it was great. We also had times of silence and reflection and group discussions.

I'm not sure that I am refreshed - rather tired and I inevitably seem to come back from retreats with a cold - but it was a worthwhile time and space. My personal takeaway was (again) the need for more prayer in my life. I know that I am going to get there, the momentum is building! Today I downloaded to my Kindle the book "Rooted in Love" by fellow South African blogger Margaret Blackie. This is a practical guide to Ignatian Spirituality and I am looking forward to journeying through it.