Supporting Leaders in Ladies Ministry

Supporting Leaders in Ladies Ministry
Vickie Kraft

Once again we can consider Jesus when we think of supporting those that we lead. Jesus offered His own presence as well as His concern for the well-being of His disciples. It was Jesus who saw a need for the disciples to “come apart and rest.” Even when leaving, Jesus assured His disciples that He “would never leave them or forsake them.” He will stand with His own to the end. That’s support!

Team Concept

It’s essential to consciously serve as part of a team. If we see ourselves as a team, we’ll maximize and use each other’s strengths and support each other in our weaknesses. The job of leaders is to equip others to do the work of the ministry. We shouldn’t put people just in learning experiences but put them in doing; achieving enables people to grow. That means we can’t be prima donnas but rather playing coaches. The Women’s Ministries Board at Northwest Bible Church serves as a team. Each member has her own responsibility, but everyone helps wherever they are needed.

It’s surprising, but some people have to be taught to work with others. If there is not an atmosphere where each person’s contribution is respected, people will not speak up and run the risk of ridicule or being ignored. We once had a person who had to comment on what everyone else offered. Her comments were mostly negative, and she caused a great deal of resentment and friction in what had previously been a good working board. Finally, the chairman took her aside and lovingly told her that she didn’t have to assume the responsibility of passing judgment on every idea that was presented. That’s good leadership-to lovingly yet firmly confront a person who is really hurting the dynamics of the whole group.

If you serve on a church staff either volunteer or salaried, each department should support and cooperate with the ministry of the others, even if it’s just behind the scenes with no credit given! We mustn’t be territorial!

 

Relationships

One of the most rewarding aspects of the work on the Women’s Ministries Program is the development of deep, personal relationships with the women who work closely with me on the board. I believe it is important that the board members be welded together in love and friendship. We encourage this by meeting socially in addition to our regular board meetings.

We have dinner at one member’s home several times each year with our husbands. The hostess provides the main dish, and each of us brings a dish to complete the meal. This evening together proves beneficial as it gives our husbands exposure to Women’s Ministries. When they hear all that is happening and get to know the women their wives are working with, they are even more supportive of their wives’ participation.

We also have a luncheon at Christmas. This allows a sweet time of fellowship without focusing or concentrating on business. We really enjoy having fun together. When members complete their two years of service on the board, many tell me how much they miss that unique fellowship.

Relationships are also developed among committees of Women’s Ministries and within the small groups as well. These relationships strengthen the impact of the program.

 

Removing Roadblocks

Peter Drucker has said, “At the heart of everything I have done has been the thought of enabling others, getting the roadblocks out of the way, out of their thinking and their systems, to enable them to become all that they can be.” I like to see this function as a major part of my role, removing roadblocks to allow women to become all God designed them to be.

Part of that can be anticipating and heading off unnecessary offenses. For instance, when we decided to make aerobics a part of our Women’s Ministries Program, I was aware there could be a potential offense from the clothing worn to the church for exercise. Below is a memo from me to all the ladies in the aerobics elective designed to head off unnecessary offense.

We understand that exercising requires different clothing from what one usually wears to church. But since the aerobics electives are an integral part of the Women’s Ministries Program and we meet on the church campus where men are often present, we have a dress code that we ask you to comply with.

If you wear leotards or body suits, please wear loose shorts and a loose top over them. Sweat suits are fine. Just avoid tight or skimpy outfits that are not suitable here. The biblical word for the Christian woman is modesty! And that applies even to aerobics. Thanks for your cooperation and happy aerobics!

Anticipating potential problems and heading them off is usually the better part of wisdom. This principle applies in many situations. The women sense your support in things like this; they understand that you are looking out for them.

 

Encouraging and Affirming

Encouraging and affirming each woman in her area of strength helps avoid the dangerous pitfall of competition and comparison. The realization of our frailty also helps us to avoid comparing ourselves with others and competing with them (2 Corinthians 10:12).
Competition and comparison are such American pastimes that it’s easy to slip into it in our service to the Lord. We women, especially, must be very careful about this. It’s so easy to think:

*”She’s a better teacher, but I’m a better homemaker.”
*”She counsels better, but I’m a better cook.”
*”She’s such a big shot, being up front, but I get more done behind the scenes.”
*”I wish I had her gifts!”

Comparisons and competition have no place in the ministry. God made us members of a body where each of us has her own function and place. God made us different on purpose! That eliminates any reason for competition. It’s as silly as my eye competing with my ear for importance. This fact will free us to encourage others, to affirm them. Honest affirmation is not flattery. Flattery encourages manipulation, not growth. To affirm means simply appreciating and pointing out strengths we see in others. We encourage them to build on them. Affirmation really involves nothing more than paying attention to someone else, caring about her, and expressing our care to her.

I want to emphasize this. Focus on finding something good to say about people’s efforts. Praise them honestly for a job well done. You can always praise someone’s willingness to offer her participation. Even when you have to point out something that needs correction, start with something positive. Then when sharing the negative, offer specific help, suggestions for improvement, and coaching if necessary. For instance, if a woman has a hard time organizing a message, offer to go over her first draft with her. Show her how to make applications or do an outline or whatever she needs. That way, she knows you have her best interests at heart and you’re not just being a critic. On the whole, be lavish with sincere praise. It builds confidence and develops loyalty. It has been said that every negative needs to be balanced with at least five positive observations.

 

Nurturing

Part of my role as minister to women is to be available to counsel and encourage women of the church, especially those in roles of leadership. This means I take an interest in them and their families and make myself available to them personally and by telephone.

Praise and encouragement must be a large part of your leadership philosophy. I remember a wise woman once told me about my children, “Try to catch them doing something right.” The same thought applies to leadership development. Pay close attention to the work of your various board members and give them positive feedback on their work.

Another good habit to develop is to pass on positive comments by others to those who have done something especially well. If we would busy ourselves passing on the positive comments we hear, we could bury most of the irritating and discouraging negatives.

Nurturing isn’t limited to just the board members, however. We hope it occurs throughout the program. Women find women’s ministry to be a safe place, no matter how terrible their past or how heavy their guilt. For example, our abortion recovery group has been very successful in bringing healing to the women who have taken this ten-week course.

I have been asked to speak at a memorial service this group gives at the end of the series that gives dignity and personal worth to their unborn babies. I always stress that when God forgives sin, He removes it from us, out of reach, out of sight, out of mind, and out of existence. He cleanses our conscience and frees us to serve Him.

Some of these women later give testimonies before the group to encourage others who have experienced abortion to seek this help. Each time, several women respond by calling the telephone number of the leader. Since this group is confidential, a woman can feel safe sharing the secret and the shame of her abortion, perhaps for the first time.

I was particularly touched by something I heard. When one of the women who had taken the post-abortion course gave her testimony at Women’s Ministries, I just hugged her spontaneously after she was finished. Later I heard that one of the other women who eventually took the course said she did so because of that hug. She said, “Then I knew it was safe to come.”

 

Seasons of Life

There are also many variables for women to consider. There are seasons in our lives that affect our availability. Women can have it all. We just can’t have it all at the same time!

Women leaders, of all people, understand the pressures on the mother of young children. We won’t burden her with guilt because she’s not doing as much as an empty nester. We’ll remind her that God calls raising children a good work! (1 Timothy 5:10).

If aging parents need more attention, we’ll encourage women with the truth that they are obeying the commandment to honor their parents. We are fragile human beings with just twenty-four hours a day, and different ages and states of health. Nurturing feminine leadership will be gentle and compassionate. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, Paul described how he cared for them as a man.

How much easier this gentleness of a nursing mother who cherishes her children should be for women, who have this ability naturally. We must encourage women to see all of life as ministry, with no division between sacred and secular. God does. Then when family and job pressures lessen and her time is freed up, a woman can assume more responsibility in church ministry. Throughout life we minister, just in different ways at different times.

Nurturing isn’t limited to just the board members, however. We hope it occurs throughout the program. Women find women’s ministry to be a safe place, no matter how terrible their past or how heavy their guilt. For example, our abortion recovery group has been very successful in bringing healing to the women who have taken this ten-week course.

I have been asked to speak at a memorial service this group gives at the end of the series that gives dignity and personal worth to their unborn babies. I always stress that when God forgives sin, He removes it from us, out of reach, out of sight, out of mind, and out of existence. He cleanses our conscience and frees us to serve Him.

Some of these women later give testimonies before the group to encourage others who have experienced abortion to seek this help. Each time, several women respond by calling the telephone number of the leader. Since this group is confidential, a woman can feel safe sharing the secret and the shame of her abortion, perhaps for the first time.

I was particularly touched by something I heard. When one of the women who had taken the post-abortion course gave her testimony at Women’s Ministries, I just hugged her spontaneously after she was finished. Later I heard that one of the other women who eventually took the course said she did so because of that hug. She said, “Then I knew it was safe to come.”Seasons of Life

There are also many variables for women to consider. There are seasons in our lives that affect our availability. Women can have it all. We just can’t have it all at the same time!

Women leaders, of all people, understand the pressures on the mother of young children. We won’t burden her with guilt because she’s not doing as much as an empty nester. We’ll remind her that God calls raising children a good work! (1 Timothy 5:10).

If aging parents need more attention, we’ll encourage women with the truth that they are obeying the commandment to honor their parents. We are fragile human beings with just twenty-four hours a day, and different ages and states of health. Nurturing feminine leadership will be gentle and compassionate. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, Paul described how he cared for them as a man.

How much easier this gentleness of a nursing mother who cherishes her children should be for women, who have this ability naturally. We must encourage women to see all of life as ministry, with no division between sacred and secular. God does. Then when family and job pressures lessen and her time is freed up, a woman can assume more responsibility in church ministry. Throughout life we minister, just in different ways at different times.

Women Can Have it All.

 

God We Just Have it All at The Same Time! Fruitfulness Comes From

Fruitfulness comes from God (1 Corinthians 3:5-9). Administration is getting things done through people. Godly leadership will recognize that no one is indispensable. Our ministry mustn’t be built around individual superstars. We all do different things at different times and in different ways. Sometimes all we can do is plant the seed. Sometimes, we water and water and water it. Sometimes we cultivate and water what someone else has planted. Sometimes we have the joy of reaping.

The interesting thing is that the way the seed grows is a mystery. No one knows how growth happens. As someone has said, the parable of the seed in Mark 4:26-29 is meant to “encourage the discouraged and restrain the impatient. Sow the seed, wait and sleep!” Our responsibility is to always be investing our lives in the lives of others to encourage their growth in the Lord. But no matter what we may do, God is the only one who can make things grow. God is the only one who can make people grow.

 

Don’t Be a “Fixer”

Let me mention an inherent pitfall we must avoid as women leaders. Our nurturing character tempts us to want to fix everything. We can’t! We must be careful to shift a person’s dependence on us to dependence on the Lord. Obedience to God’s Word and reliance on God’s Spirit brings growth to maturity for anyone. It’s our job to teach God’s Word and to model godly living. Then we must leave the growth to God. We can encourage others and affirm that God is the life giver.

 

Just a Garment

Richard Halverson shared these thoughts on becoming Chaplain of the United States Senate. “I felt like a non-person, a mascot to one of the most powerful political bodies in the world. I wondered what I was doing there.”

That evening he read the words of Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. And surely I am with you always.” Then he realized, “I am a garment which Jesus Christ wears every day to do what He wants to do in the United States Senate. I don’t need power; my weakness is an asset. If Christ is in me, what more do I need?”

You and I are the garment Jesus wears in ministry to women. He uses us in our weakness so that His excellent power is displayed.

The above article, “Supporting Leaders In Ladies Ministry” was written by Vickie Kraft. The article was excerpted from the book Women Mentoring Women.

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.”

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