Pursuing Partnership Series: Men & Women in Ministry
Part 9: A Leadership Profile: Melanie Lachcik
By Rebecca Hopkins, Paraclete Mission Group – Writer about nonprofit work
Melanie Lachcik took a job as an executive assistant at a Christian nonprofit organization because she wanted to serve with kingdom impact.
“I come from a culture or family background of high servanthood,” she said. “Your highest calling is to put others first and serve other people.”
She also was raised to think in terms of efficiency.
“God has gifted me with the ability to say, let’s not just accept the status quo,” she said, especially if something in that status quo is not working. “I’m fine if that’s what you want me to do. I’m a team player. But if you don’t seem happy with this or this process doesn’t seem to be working for you, maybe there’s a different way.”
Others around her at her workplace at Leadership Resources International started noticing her ability to ask good questions, to see things differently and to come up with more efficient processes. Soon she was invited to move from assistant to director of partner engagement—the first and currently only female manager at LRI.
“I’m very thankful that as I look back on my journey that I had people who were willing to recognize that there was something in me,” she said.
“The ability of mission leaders to notice the women who are currently in administrative roles for their leadership potential can provide an important resource for not only bringing women into decision-making roles, but also improving their organizations,” said Wendy Wilson, Executive Director of Women’s Development Track, during a recent Missio Nexus webinar, called “Pathways for Women in Leadership.”
“Who do you perhaps already have on your staff who you have overlooked?” Wilson asked the 155 attendees of her webinar. “Are we seeing them for the potential they have to grow into other roles? I have had far too many conversations with women who’ve begun to outgrow their current role, even excelling at it, but don’t see a growth path forward in their agency. We actually accomplish our mission more effectively when men and women work in partnership at every level.”
For Lachcik, a big part of her leadership journey was recognizing that she didn’t have to just do any job to serve God but could find roles that fit her giftings so that she was following God into her most meaningful contribution.
“What gives me joy and excitement are the things I’m doing now, and it felt at first like it was selfish if I were to ask (God) to let me do that,” she said, saying she used to think, “I’ll just serve wherever he wants me. If you can use me, that’s great. Even if I didn’t love what I was doing, it came from a space of servanthood. Then when I saw that (God) was bringing those things together and saying, ‘that’s not selfish, it’s how I made you.’ It’s a beautiful thing. “
Wilson urges nonprofit organizations to steward well their female staff’s gifts. “Many of the (women) are asking the question right up front, ‘is there a place to contribute my gifts now as well as in the future?’” she said. “Are we giving all of our women the opportunity to serve in ways that fit their abilities and capacity?”
Lachcik has used her combination of gifts and position to diversify how LRI finds funding for its staff, no longer relying entirely on individual staff to raise all their support. She’s helped the organization find other sources of funding—foundations, businesses, etc., which has lessened the burden for staff, especially those who’ve come to the end of their own resources.
Another recent contribution she made to LRI was to execute an international conference for pastors from 37 countries around the world in Brazil in early March. When the pandemic suddenly shut down borders, she also helped arrange their early departure and return to their countries, with all the complications and logistics that the pandemic wreaked on international travel for these pastors.
Lachcik has participated in several Women’s Development Track events, and thanks to the training and mentorship, she’s also growing in confidence to use her voice, advocate for herself and others and to serve by leading.
“I think one of my major takeaways is learning to love myself in a different way and to really understand what acceptance of myself was in a way that meant, I don’t have to be ashamed of the way God made me,” she said. “Instead of me sitting back and saying, ‘I hope and pray someone asks that I be part of this,’ I say instead, ‘I’m seeing this happening and I’d like to be part of that. What would that look like to you? Are you open to that?’ I don’t think it’s been until recently that I’ve been willing to offer myself in the sense that I know I’m good at this and I’m going to pursue a position in which I can really contribute.”
She’s learned too that sometimes a leader needs to step back and let someone else take the helm. “It’s within my power to allow another person to gain confidence and rise up and it’s my responsibility as a leader to watch out for other people who can step up and empower other people.”