Being welcoming and inviting: some of us have to work hard at cultivating those traits. A rather shy person, even after a career of teaching public speaking, I know the tendency to pull back, hoping that the person in front won’t move suddenly and catch me off guard, exposed to the whole room; or the one behind won’t push me forward, so that I stand, inadequate, in a room full of superiors.
Honestly, being a part of Women of the ELCA has done quite a bit to calm the butterflies that seem drawn to my stomach, bypassing chrysalides, to take up permanent residence there. In fact, I have hidden my fears so well that some have called me a “cheerleader.”
Can you imagine me a cheerleader … me, whose split never got past a 45-degree angle, even if an offensive lineman pushed down on my head? Yet, as leaders, cheerleading is our challenge, for how can we expect others to be excited if we are not?
Being friendly is what eases the fears of others, even when it seems to take a little past forever to see results. Women need to feel truly welcome. If you think back, that’s probably how you stumbled into this community of women.
Invite women as you would to your house, enthusiastically and warmly, and with no strings attached. Don’t be tempted—in your joy over one new face—to go into “designated worker” mode. Assigning chores is a good way to send women running for the hills!
How do you invite? The last time you invited someone to your home, did you meet her at the door with a dishcloth in your hand, ready to give it over to her?
Dorothy Nevils was the president of the Indiana-Kentucky Synodical Women’s Organization of Women of the ELCA.
Photo of the Golden Bulls cheerleaders by Inez Moore Parker, used with permission, Creative Commons.