Executive Director Blog

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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