leadership

The Unsuspecting Father

The Christmas season is full of amazing stories. Each year, we roll out the old favorites to tell and retell in growing anticipation of the Big Day. But of these Christmas favorites there is one story which always seems to leave me scratching my head in wonder year after year.

Through the Gospel of Matthew, we receive a unique recollection of the Christmas story through the eyes of an unsuspecting father. Joseph was a regular guy. Part of a family tree with roots firmly planted in his native soil, he had his own feet firmly planted on the ground. Joseph must have brought in a dependable income from his talents as a craftsman given his status as an expectant groom. Sturdy, stable, dependable, grounded. These are a few words I would use to describe the man about to take Mary as his bride.

Spirtual Formation as a Leader

We all have opportunities to lead and to follow, and in both cases, our spiritual formation makes a difference in how we treat one another in those roles.

The Bible says that God knew us while we were in our mother’s womb and that He knows our days—including every experience we’ve had. So, often with gaping wounds, we limp into positions of leadership. We want to present ourselves to everyone as a whole person, and we hope that they won’t notice our bandages and scars. Yet the more we try to hide our wounds, the more we expose them.

How does this relate to spiritual formation? In the words of Dr. Noel Forlini, “Spiritual formation is a process of presenting our whole selves to God in order to experience the love of God, so that we can love God, others, and ourselves.”

The whole self includes everything—even the parts that we’ve worked so hard to forget about. Our hidden wounds are actually an important part of our spiritual formation. If we present them to God, we will find ourselves more able to love God, others, and ourselves.

Where, Oh Where Did It Go?

“I know I put those keys right here! Where did they go?”

“I’ve got to go to the bank today and sign some papers—if I can ever find the papers!”

All of us know the frustration of trying to find misplaced items, whether it’s keys, important papers, or the assignment that is due today!

How is it that those things go missing? How can we not remember to store those things in a more secure location, one that we will not quickly forget?

That same frustration can be found as we try to locate valuable information online. We know we saw a video or an important extra activity for the month, or even more information about a missionary being studied this month. But, for the life of us, we can’t find it now. Sound familiar?

Eternity-Based Leadership

 

It is no secret that we often focus much of our lives on results-based leadership, which doesn’t seem to be biblical. Sometimes this pull for results comes from our deep desire to be found worthy in our jobs. We desire to be considered a bargain—pulling more than our weight and contributing significantly. Yet, as we read Scripture,we find something different.

In the first chapter of 2 Peter, we see a man who has walked with Jesus coming to the end of his life. What is it that Peter most wants to leave behind? And how does it compare with what we want? For Peter, he wants the believers (the brethren in KJV and my brothers and sisters in NIV) to make every effort to confirm their [your] calling and election so that they will not stumble. He wants them to have a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ. Why does this concern Peter so much, and why should we be concerned about eternity rather than the results we want to see?

Turning a Ministry Project into a Missions Project

As a Girls in Action leader, it can be challenging to plan projects that give GAs the opportunity to take the lessons they have learned during their GA meetings and apply them to the needs in their community. It can be especially challenging to make sure the majority of the projects are missions projects and not simply ministry projects.

You may ask, “What is the difference between the two?” Missions is sharing the gospel in words and through actions. A missionary is someone who goes into the world to share the gospel. A missions project is an opportunity to share the good news that God loves the person you are helping.

How can leaders help girls develop a missional lifestyle?

I have a confession: I’m not perfect. There, I said it. Even though I was a pastor’s child, a GA, and a pretty good girl, I still didn’t understand what it meant to live on mission with God. I know my leaders meant well, but this is what I walked away with as a teen:

  • I need to read my Bible.
  • My friends are lost, and if I don’t make sure they are saved, it’s my fault if they go you know where.
  • If I have problems, I need to pray.

Not all bad things, but it didn’t compel me to fulfill the Great Commission either. Don’t get me wrong—I loved hearing the stories, I learned about Lottie Moon, and for heaven’s sake, I was the 1995 Associational GA Princess (What, what!). But there was still something missing.

Helping someone develop a missional lifestyle doesn’t start in the mind; it begins in the heart. Below you will find four tips to help you develop a strategy to engage girls in cultivating a missional lifestyle.

Number One: Set Goals.

When Pastors Don't See a Need for Missions Discipleship

Susan Bryant, Kentucky WMU president, was recently asked how she responds to pastors who might not understand the benefits of children’s missions discipleship. Read Susan’s thoughts below:

I should have seen the warning signs—a pastor who had not grown up in Royal Ambassadors, Wednesday evening programming that was being rearranged, and other ideas for our children that were being promoted. I had been a GA leader at my church for more than 30 years, and I couldn’t fathom anything but spending Wednesday evenings traveling around the world in the basement of our church.

Then came the day when my pastor scheduled a meeting to discuss alternatives to Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors. I knew I needed to present a clear vision for missions education for our children. We both wanted the same thing—the best atmosphere for our children to learn that God loves them and loves the world.

GA Groups in Small Churches

There are always two sides to a coin. While some see a small church as a disadvantage to missions discipleship, it can be a strength that creates an effective GA ministry.

Small groups can allow for more meaningful discussion times. As questions and issues arise, leaders have the chance to address each concern. This allows for more significant discussions, as well as cultivating a leader’s ability to guide girls into a deeper understanding of their world and missions. At times, there may be an activity that requires more participants than a group has available. The leader could adapt the game to fit a smaller number of people, but be sure to keep the intent. Or better yet, the leader could use this as an opportunity to invite a women or men’s class to come play with her GAs.

One of the greatest strengths of a smaller church is the longevity of its members. This dynamic allows leaders to watch their GA girls grow up to become leaders themselves with a great opportunity for influence in future generations.

Wisdom-Martin elected executive director of WMU, SBC

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Sandra Wisdom-Martin, executive director of WMU of Texas, was unanimously elected executive director/treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union, SBC, by the WMU executive board during a special called meeting, July 29-30, in Birmingham, Ala.

Wisdom-Martin succeeds Wanda Lee, who has served as executive director of the 128-year-old missions organization for the past 16 years. Wisdom-Martin, who will begin her new role on Oct. 15, was presented to the board by a search committee appointed in February following Lee’s announcement of her intentions to retire.

Prior to leading WMU of Texas since 2010, Wisdom-Martin served as women’s missions and ministries director for the Illinois Baptist State Association, 2001-2010; and as Cooperative Program Missionary with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, 1991-2001.

Trust During Transition

Several years ago, former national WMU president Janet Hoffman sent me a little book by Robert J. Morgan entitled The Red Sea Rules: Ten God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times. Recently when I was preparing a devotion for a group of denominational leaders, I noticed the caption at the bottom of the front cover of the book: “The same God who led you in will lead you out.” Wow! What an important truth for me as I prepare to hand over the leadership of WMU to a new leader in the coming months.

I have prayed to know how to end well and transition well with all things in good order as the new leader arrives. This statement prompted me to pause and remember the journey God led me through as He called me to serve 16 years ago. I was reluctant, scared, and uncertain of my abilities to lead, but God ultimately demonstrated for me a most valuable lesson: whatever He called me to do He would be right there going ahead of me, with me, and coming behind me to make all things work for His good. I have seen Him do just that over and over during my years of service.

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