Leaders Blog

Start Something New

I love wandering through bookstores when I have free time. While I have a Kindle and a tablet for reading when I fly on airplanes, I really prefer a real book. I love the feel and smell of a new book and the comfort it brings as my mind is transported wherever the book takes me.

I especially love missionary biographies like Both Feet In by Bud Fray and A Thousand Times Yes by Wana Ann Fort. Books like these provide deeper insight into the life and calling of missionaries and inspire us to lead and participate in missions with passion as well as knowledge. Their stories challenge us to commit our very best to the calling God has given us to live a missional life.

To Lead as He Directs

As missions education leaders, we have a tremendous responsibility to the children under our care. We must keep them safe while we are leading them. We must teach them about God, His church, and missions. And, we must teach them to become responsible leaders.

Here are some ways that leaders can help their children develop the right leadership skills in the future.

First of all, leaders must set a good example. As a leader, we must allow our children to see us balance our work, church, family, and leadership roles. By setting a good example, we teach them to be accountable for the tasks they need to accomplish.

Second, we must emphasize perseverance. The best leaders learn how to handle failure as gracefully as they handle success. Our children need to be exposed to disappointment. We must learn to stop sheltering them from seeing things go wrong. They must see us working through failure and mistakes and finding ways to overcome the negativity that is often present in our lives.

Help Wanted! Leaders Apply Here

In my experience, it seems there are never enough leaders to go around. Everyone wants us to provide all these neat “opportunities,” but where’s the leader? Those with the ideas seldom want to implement them. Why? It could be because our method of enlisting leaders does not work. We want to fill in all our blanks for our leadership needs and never stop to explain what we want people to do.

Prayer must always come first. Before you “fill a job,” you need to pray. Is it really a job God is leading you to fill? If the answer is yes, begin to pray immediately for the person God has called to that leadership role. Pray, pray, pray.

I’ve often said if a role is too hard to fill, maybe it’s time to evaluate and ask if it’s really something you need to do.

Contact the person you feel will do the very best job. Explain the role in full detail—don’t hold back. And don’t say, “Oh, it’s not really that hard!” Talk about the importance of the role you want this person to fill. Point out her qualities and strengths for this role.

Is It Time to Get Off the Merry-Go-Round?

As a leader, are you at a place where you feel as if you’ve used up everything in you? You’re on a merry-go-round of life. When do you say, “It’s time to get off the merry-go-round—time to renew myself”? I surprised myself this past year when I said yes to another opportunity to lead but found that God blessed and renewed me in the process.

I had the opportunity to lead and participate in a retreat. There were women in our church who would never go away for a retreat so we decided to do it at the church. I was amazed at how many signed up.

From the moment I started planning, I was on the path to renewal. I knew God was “tendering” my own heart and life. I used Psalm 139 as my focus. I read that chapter often as I prepared. God spoke through each verse specifically to me.

When the retreat date arrived, I was ready. I used activities and times of prayer to help our women grow closer. During every session, I was amazed as I watched our women truly connect with God and each other, and I could feel His presence with me.

Growing Missions in Your Church

While we know bigger isn’t always better, we all want our WMU to grow. Spiritually, of course, as well as physically. So what steps can you take to engage more preschoolers, children, students, and adults in missions education and involvement in your church?

Dealing with Leadership Surprises

Being a leader is hard. But you never know just how hard until you’re the leader.

Here are the things that surprised me the most about leadership:

1. Delegating is hard. I admit it—I have a type A personality and maybe control issues and OK, maybe trust issues, but sometimes it just seems easier to do everything myself. Wrong attitude! I can’t do it all; I don’t have the skills, time, or patience to do everything with excellence. I am robbing someone else of a blessing and the opportunity to use his or her talents for the kingdom. How will anyone else learn to serve or lead if I do everything? Delegating is hard, but it is the right thing to do. Even Jesus delegated the feeding of the 5,000 to the disciples and His mission here on earth to us. 

Working with Church Staff

As a pastor’s wife, I have a unique perspective on working with church staff. Here are some insights I have gleaned that could help you as a WMU director:

Do 

  • plan ahead. Have a yearly, monthly, and even weekly calendar. The church staff plans a year ahead and the church calendar fills up quickly. Know when publicity is due and don’t miss deadlines.
  • make appointments. Don’t talk to staff members in the hall or just “pop” in their offices. Make an appointment so the staff member can pay attention, take notes, and respond with undivided attention.
  • be flexible. Be willing to change your plans. Expect the unexpected, because things happen—that is the life of a church.
  • take care of as much as you can yourself. Try not to use the staff as your setup crew, teardown crew, or audio/video people.
  • develop relationships. Work on developing relationships with each staff member so you will know how to pray for him or her and what he or she is responsible for.

Don’t 

Surprise! I’m the Leader!

You may remember the children’s game “follow the leader.” One child chosen as the leader goes to the head of the line. All the other children line up behind the leader. The children mimic whatever actions the leader does. This silly example supports the oft-heard quote “You’re not a leader if no one is following you.”

So how does a leader get people to follow her? What does an effective leader do to keep followers and get new ones? She serves. The role of servant leader is what I have found to be the most effective tool in leading others. If I am not willing to serve others in His name and lead others by serving alongside them, how can I expect others to catch the vision of the ministry or the task?

The servant leader shares the responsibilities of the task and helps her team develop and perform to its best potential. She encourages team members and challenges them to use their spiritual gifts in serving the Lord by serving others.

I used to think you could motivate others to serve. Then, I heard a seasoned WMU conference leader say, “You cannot motivate others. You can only create an environment in which they will motivate themselves to act or serve.”

Passport Not Needed

The International Mission Study is always an eye-opener as to what is actually going on and where God is at work around the world. Through this focused study, our church members can travel around the world without having a passport or getting those painful and expensive shots!

In past years, our church held a special event where the study was taught and a covered-dish meal, with foods from the country being studied, was served. Other years, we used the study as our mission study during the November monthly Women on Mission®meetings. In both cases, we decorated the room and tables to carry through the theme of the study.

One year, we decided on a different approach. As associational WMU director, I invited the director of missions to team-teach the mission study with me. Special invitations were mailed to pastors of churches in the association telling them the theme of the study and the time frame needed for presenting the study.

Study. Pray. Give.

When I first moved to Texas more than 35 years ago, our associational WMU met annually at the Hispanic church in our association for the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer. The Hispanic women organized the program and hosted the event.

A typical Baptist covered-dish dinner preceded the prayer program. It was always a highlight of the year as we enjoyed the fellowship of women from other churches and the delicious food.

Now we don’t have an associational WMU and only a few churches still have Women on Mission or Adults on Mission groups. But our women still meet annually for the Day of Prayer. Several churches take turns organizing the program and hosting the event. The covered-dish dinner and fellowship with women from other churches in our association has continued.

We always make our invitation churchwide, inviting Women on Mission and other women not involved in Women on Mission to attend. This has been successful with more women attending, especially when we host the meeting at our church. We include as many women as possible to help lead worship and present some of the testimonies.

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