1. Tell us about yourself Mimi.
Growing up in Colorado, I was surrounded by enormous natural beauty. My happiest memories involved outdoor adventures—hiking, skiing or biking beside family and friends in the mountains of Colorado. I was also blessed by friends in high school and college who pursued God with equal exuberance. They loved Scripture and had a deep passion for Christian history, and they lovingly welcomed me to journey beside them in an honest and vigorous life of faith. Together we memorized chunks of Scripture and the writings of C.S. Lewis and many of the "Inklings." My best friend was the most gifted bible teacher in our church. She was so faithful to God and I was fortunate to have her example in my life. I think everyone who knew her felt this way. When she married a promising academic, our pastor pleaded with her to continue teaching Scripture. "Your gifts and calling are just as important as his," he reminded her. I will never forget his inspiring speech that day. His support of women was a priceless gift to our entire church. I later learned he was one of the early members of Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE).
Though I majored in science, and worked in health care for a time, my heart was always enlivened by theology. I eventually enrolled in seminary where met the first president of CBE, Catherine (Cathie) Kroeger. As a member of Student Council, I was collecting resumes of potential women faculty, and eventually convinced Gordon Conwell to hire Cathie. In return, she convinced CBE's board to hire me. At the time, I was working on a PhD program in historical theology at Durham University, in England. It was a busy time of life, to be sure.
2. What are the events along your leadership journey?
Mentors were some of the most significant events in my leadership journey. From my best friend in high school and college, to meeting Cathie Kroeger and the other founders of CBE (like Alvera Mickelsen), to working beside Virginia Patterson—CBE's board chair, my work as a leader mercifully always included an amazing cohort of women pioneers who believed in me, who prayed for me, and who spoke honestly to me. They also had skills I acquired through observation and by trying them out as my own. I had an array of tutors, who completely invested in my development as a leader, and I owe each of them a great debt.
3. Often at Sophia, we discuss leadership styles. How would you best describe your style of leadership?
I love to experiment with new ideas. My husband says I'm "spontaneous." Others say I'm a visionary. According to my strength finders, I enjoy understanding the context of challenges in identifying solutions. I am devoted to achieving a great deal every day, especially in pressing toward new horizons. And, truly, I love working with people who are called to the same journey—to liberate God's many gifts in girls and women.
4. What is the hardest choice or action which you have had to take in a position of leadership?
There have been times when I have had to make a decision that placed me outside of a group of colleagues. In making a choice that I believed honoured God, I had to go it alone. I was misunderstood. And, I was at times harshly criticized. But, God was faithful. Though the road was long and lonely, yet the deep valley led to a broad meadow filled with sunshine and wildflowers. I realized, the path I took was a good one.
5. What advice would you give to women who are struggling with disempowerment in their contexts of leadership?
Soul-care: Pray and get others to pray with you. Journal often, ask God questions and imagine how God might answer you. Write it down. Keep yourself disciplined by reading Scripture each day. While it's hard to take on too many responsibilities at a church, locate a church that understands your needs as a leader. Find a church that supports your ministry and you as a leader. This is very important!
Self-care: Nurture your spiritual life, and be sure to spend time each week resting, preferably one day a week. Live a balanced life and take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep and exercise regularly. If you don't take care of yourself, your ministry will suffer and so will others.
The Care of Mentors: Find faithful, holy and wise leaders that you can trust. Ask them to mentor you, to pray with you, to problem solve beside you regularly. I have a very gifted, wise spiritual director I meet with. God speaks through her in my decision making process. You can also find mentors throughout history. Women leaders in history can teach us how to navigate our own challenges today. Never underestimate the gift of learning from history.
Respect boundaries: Be clear about your boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. Know what you can do in a day, and respect the fact that you are human. God is able to more than we can think or imagine possible. But, as humans, we have limitations. We need to recharge ourselves. We need to unplug and not allow ourselves to be co-opted by well-meaning friends or family. And, we cannot co-opt the energies of others. Check in with yourself and if you've been running for months, consider spending a day at a local retreat facility for a day of silence. Make this a yearly practice!
6. There are lots of arguments within the Church, which are advocating women can't and shouldn't be leaders - how have/would you address these in your identity as a leader?
At this point, I've probably encountered nearly every argument levelled against women in leadership. There are so many, I could not possibly enumerate each one. But, that is where having access to some very good books is helpful. CBE's free articles and bookstore (www.cbeinternational.org) offer excellent resources that prepare women and men for the questions and challenges that are inevitably posed. It helps to develop your response to passages that are often cited as prohibiting women from teaching in church or leading beside men.
What has worked well for me is to consider the vast number of women leaders in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. Their example, coupled with the life and teachings of Jesus and Paul, constitute the "main-stream of biblical evidence" supporting the shared leadership of women and women. Prepare in advance the reason for the hope that is within you, and add to this yearly, by reading the egalitarian literature like CBE's quarterly journals Mutuality andPriscilla Papers.
Consider writing a few articles, blogs or books yourself to explain your position and to welcome a broad conversation. There is wisdom in many counsellors. Most of all, pray without ceasing, since our work is to defeat not human opponents but spiritual ones. Remember, God is faithful.
Dr. Mimi Haddad is president of Christians for Biblical Equality. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Summa Cum Laude). She holds a PhD in historical theology from the University of Durham, England. Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University awarded Mimi an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 2013. Haddad is part of the leadership of Evangelicals for Justice. She is a founding member of the Evangelicals and Gender Study Group at the Evangelical Theological Society, and she served as the convener of the Issue Group 24 for the 2004 Lausanne III Committee for World Evangelization.
For more on Mimi, see more of her Bio here, http://www.cbeinternational.org/content/dr-mimi-haddad-president