Leaders Blog

Work as a Team

While my husband, James, and I were in Alaska, we had the opportunity to go dog sledding one afternoon. It was one of the highlights of our trip. James and I took turns helping the musher steer the team of dogs. Actually the musher was in control the entire time; he just wanted us to think that we were helping.

During the dog sledding adventure, a portion of our time was spent visiting the kennel where the 45 Alaskan huskies are kept. All these dogs run in the famous Iditarod sled race each year in Alaska. These are very well-trained dogs.

The musher, Darius, began telling us all about the race. He has been a musher for 15 years and has participated in the Iditarod for many years.

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Observe the Need, Meet the Need

The phone rings.

My grandmother is on the other end. I’m always happy to hear from her even though I see her and my grandfather several times a month. My mother is working at a new job following her college graduation. I’m proud of my mom; I’m saddened by my parent’s divorce; and I’m confused by the current situation in which we find ourselves.

My grandmother tells me to go to the kitchen, look in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, and tell her exactly what I see. I immediately do as she instructs. I tell her the contents of the refrigerator and cabinets. This task takes me less than 3 minutes.

I remember this situation and conversation with my grandmother as if it were yesterday. But this conversation occurred more than 30 years ago. That same day, while my mother was still working, my grandparents delivered sacks and sacks of groceries. My brothers, sister, and I were elated! We had not seen that many groceries in our house in a very long time.

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Grow One by One

I’ll never forget my first invitation to be a part of my church’s Women on Mission group. I was a young mother at the time and remember picking up my daughter from the nursery one Sunday following the worship service. Once our family returned home and I was going through the diaper bag, I noticed a diaper in the bag that did not belong to my daughter. Someone had written on the diaper just as you would write out an invitation to a party or gathering. The invitation was to the Women on Mission meeting for the following night.

I had wanted to get involved with that group and having that very unique invitation was just what I needed. I became a part of that missions group and never looked back.

Confront When Necessary

So the question is “What is the most important thing you have learned about confrontation as a leader?” The answer is that it is necessary.

I don’t know of anyone who enjoys confrontation. In fact, I can name many who avoid it like the plague. Why? Confronting someone is never comfortable. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. As a leader, I sometimes find myself in a situation in which confrontation is necessary, but it doesn’t need to be mean-spirited.

In John 15, we are commanded to love one another just as Christ has loved us. Confronting someone in love is what we are to do. What I find more times than not is that once I confront someone and really listen to what he or she has to say, I learn that there has been a misunderstanding or there is more to the situation that merits seeing another perspective. The situation is oftentimes not nearly as difficult as I might think it is as I play it out in my mind.

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Emphasize the Association

I’m thankful to be a part of a church that values our local Baptist association. Keeping the ministries, resources, and needs of the association in front of the church assists the church in continuing to pray for and be a part of the ministries of the association.

During the Associational Missions Emphasis on May 15–22, our association will host an open house. This is the time for church members of all ages to meet the associational staff, see the facilities, and learn even more about the ministries and churches in the association. During this time, church members can prayerwalk the facilities and commit to pray for the association in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead.

Find out what your association is doing to celebrate this coming week and consider ways your church can be involved. And check out the Summer issue of Missions Leader for creative ways to focus on associational missions. 

 

Recognize Spiritual Growth

I’m going to reminisce a bit here so please humor me for just a moment. I’ve had the privilege of being a missions leader for a number of years. In years past, I served as GA director in my church. One of the highlights for the girls was the recognition service in May.

Each GA had been paired with a woman in the church who was a part of Women on Mission. Throughout the year, each GA and “mentor” had forged a relationship with each other and the family of the GA. The mentor would come to GA on the fourth week of the month to help her GA with her individual achievement plan activities. In addition, the GA and her mentor would do things together at various times during the year as well as attending our GA/Mentor Tea on a Sunday afternoon in the spring.

Use Missions Involvement as a Catalyst for Missions Growth

Your church may be planning some summer missions experiences. These may include a missions trip, outreach during a community event, a special project with children, or some other missions involvement targeting a group in your church. Often projects of this nature are planned as one-time experiences, but they can be catalysts for ongoing missions involvement if you plan ahead.

• Plan well for the missions experience. Make sure the project meets a need and is well organized. Begin making plans for a follow-up experience as well.

• Engage others in planning.

• If you are going to assist at an established ministry site, then include the ministry leader(s) in your planning. Coordinate the plans of your group with them.

• Advertise who you will be ministering to and specific tasks to be done during the ministry.

• If items are needed for the project, tell people in your church what is needed and by what date.

• Provide training as needed. This may be done the day of the event or in advance.

Prepare for Leadership Surprises

I am an “out front” leader. I have been all my life. My dad loved to tell the story of taking me as a preschooler to visit Vacation Bible School at another church. It must have been the first day and there was a bit of confusion about lining up to go in. My dad said I announced to the other children, “Follow me; I know what to do.”

Thus my first surprise in leadership was to learn that not all leaders are like me and that my style irritates some people. This was and still is a painful lesson. It is one of the most difficult issues I face in leadership. It is helpful to remember you can’t please all the people all the time, yet sensitivity to your own style is valuable.

Another important lesson was to value those who lead without title or position. Some people aspire to be leaders, while others just are leaders, even without recognized leadership roles. They are often the people who lead from behind and get more done than most of us realize. Without them, many projects and events would never happen.

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Work Better with Church Staff

As a WMU leader, a good working relationship with church staff is vital. Whether your church has just a few staff members or many staff members, get to know them and be aware of their responsibilities.

DO

  • Respect their time. Make appointments when you need to meet with them whether for planning or discussing an item of concern.
  • Include staff in planning. Ask for staff members’ input and ideas before asking for their help.
  • Thank them for their help. No matter how seemingly small the task, your appreciation goes a long way.
  • Honor church policies and procedures. Your cooperation helps the staff do its work and will help you achieve your goals.
  • Plan ahead and keep deadlines.
  • Honor your commitments to church staff. If you have agreed to carry out a task, then do it with excellence.
  • Pray for church staff.
  • Participate fully in church activities. Be supportive of the staff in all areas.
  • Volunteer to help with a variety of church activities. Staff members appreciate those who help where needed.

DON’T

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Responding to Global Hunger

Two years ago while on a missions trip to South Africa, I had the opportunity to participate in food distribution in the local community. The missionaries with whom I was working informed my team that the food had been purchased with Global Hunger Relief funds. It was a thrill for me to have a firsthand opportunity to hand out the bags of food and share with those receiving them.

Two hundred families had the all-important yellow card that allowed them to receive food. To my dismay, there were an equal number of families—including child-headed households—beyond the fence waiting and hoping for some food. Did these families riot when there was no food for them? No, they waited patiently—albeit desperately—for whatever there might be for them. As we concluded the distribution and had to leave, they were still standing there looking through the fence.

Scenes such as this change your life. I have always led in the Global Hunger Emphasis in my church, challenging our members to give so that we can do our part to alleviate hunger around the world. To be able to go the next step and respond personally has ramped up my efforts.

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