Executive Director Blog

An Opportunity to Develop

Develop WMU online training

Author John Maxwell wrote, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I believe this is so true. In recent months, I have written From Missionary Ridge articles about 2015 being a year to focus on equipping missions leaders in the church. Through events in the Midwest and western regions and during the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting this past June in Ohio, much attention was given through conferences to help missions leaders feel confident in their role of leading small groups of children, youth, or adults. The success of any program or event rises and falls on the quality of leadership that guides the effort. WMU has been blessed throughout our history with wonderful, enthusiastic leaders who make missions and missionaries come alive in the hearts and minds of those they lead, thus keeping the missions passion alive from generation to generation.

Little Becomes Much

WorldCrafts Blessed Hope Artisan Group

“It’s the little things that count!” This familiar saying is one we have all heard many times. We often think only the big gifts, the great acts of kindness, are what count in life, when in reality it’s the little things that give us the most joy. I love a large bouquet of flowers, for instance, but the single bloom presented by a grandchild grinning from ear to ear as he delivers it? Well, that means so much more.

At national WMU®, we spend many hours creating missions education resources, editing New Hope® books, and supporting artisan groups through WorldCraftsSM. There are so many details required for each magazine, book, or craft to become a reality and arrive at your home. If we are not careful, we can get lost in the magnitude of the project and miss the joy of the little ways God uses it to bless someone else.

Laying a Foundation

The WMU® Executive Board had gathered in the Kentucky Room at the national office for a regularly scheduled meeting. The day had been filled with committee reports, awards for scholarships and grants for a variety of individuals, and the usual business of WMU. As a second-year state president, I had come to love the comradery and fellowship with this group and looked forward to the two board meetings each year.

Financial concerns for the ongoing work of national WMU had been discussed on numerous occasions. A development office was in place to discover potential funding for the work of WMU. A new proposal came to the floor; one that would move the development office to a full-fledged foundation. The idea was to create a separate entity for the sole purpose of securing the financial support for WMU. The reaction among the board members covered a wide spectrum of thought, from “What a great idea!” to “We absolutely cannot do that.” After much debate, a motion to table the idea was received with a challenge to think and pray.

Hope for the Hurting

Project HELP PTSD

During the 2014–2015 church year, we launched a four-year emphasis under the umbrella of Project HELPSM related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is not only a personal issue for many families but also becoming a significant issue for the church. From the effects of war on our soldiers to persecution of our missionaries to school shootings and natural disasters, post-traumatic reactions are often serious but seldom discussed by those involved for fear of being labeled or misunderstood.

Thank you, Debby

During my 15 years as executive director of national WMU®, I have been blessed to work with wonderful women who serve on our executive board. Each person has brought her unique gifts and skills as a leader to the work we do together on behalf of national WMU and in our states. Likewise, each national WMU president I have served with has demonstrated incredible leadership skills and a strong commitment to our missions purpose. Debby Akerman, who has served as our national president since 2010, is one of those dynamic leaders.

Rethink Influence

If you were invited to be the leader of a small group at church or a task force at work, how would you respond? For some, the immediate response would be, “Oh no, I can’t do that; I’m not a leader!” Others might say, “Let me think [or pray] about it” and then come back with a similar response. Only on a rare occasion might someone respond immediately with “Wow! Really? I’d love to do that! Thanks for asking.”

Taylor Field reminds us in his book Upside Down Leadership: Rethinking Influence and Success that leadership is the ability to influence others. Regardless of how we respond to leadership opportunities, the truth is we all have the power to influence others. Think about the places we influence everyday: the decisions made in our families, our influence over policies when we go to the polls and vote, and the impact of our words each time we praise or tear down a friend or family member. All of these actions influence others and often reveal our ability—or lack of ability—to lead as we influence the world around us.

Get the Big Picture of Missions

“Why I Am a Baptist” was the title of a great sermon I heard years ago. In addition to a clear presentation on Baptist beliefs, the minister articulated an additional reason I have come to appreciate more with every passing year. The way we cooperate to accomplish missions efforts around our nation and world is distinctive of what it means to be Southern Baptist. From how we appoint and support missionaries to the plan for shared giving through the Cooperative Program, what we do together through our churches extends our reach further than if we tried to do it alone.

Missional Engagement for All Ages

Becoming lifelong learners is an important quality among today’s missional leaders. Mindful of the various ways people learn, we strive to create an environment at WMU where staff members are encouraged to read and explore new ways to catch the attention of each new generation to raise the priority of missions in our churches.

Recent business journals have been carrying information about the growing reality of four generations now working side by side in the workplace. In addition, the possibility of a fifth generation is coming soon if the retirement age continues to be extended. At WMU, we recognize the advantage we have of reaching all ages since this describes the breakdown of our employees—four generations presently employed at WMU. We are positioned well for collaboration as we seek to create relevant approaches that fit the makeup of today’s church.

Recently we had a presentation for staff on the various characteristics of generations; it reminded us not only of generational preferences and learning styles but also of the need to create entry points appropriate to each generation.

Waiting for an Invitation

This month, both state and national WMU staff are gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a time of leadership development and missions training. The Western Regional Leadership Summit is the result of months of praying and thinking together about ways to increase missions awareness and involvement in churches in our western states. We are grateful for the support of Del Norte Baptist Church, New Mexico WMU, and convention staff and volunteers who so willingly agreed to host this first unique gathering of western missions leaders. I hope you are planning to join us!

Together We Make a Difference

January is recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Every day, countless numbers of girls are trapped into a life of slavery either by force, by fraud, or with a promise of a better life that never comes. WMU has focused attention on this issue for several years through Project HELP and WorldCrafts in hopes of creating avenues of awareness and prevention. Many local and state WMU organizations have risen to the challenge and are doing incredible things to rid our society of this tragedy. You are to be commended for all your efforts.

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