WMU Blog

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. 

Our Proactive Response Matters

The first week in December is a special time with the International Mission Study, prayer experiences during the Week of Prayer for International Missions, and giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering as highlights of the Christmas season for many of us.

This year, however, comes with a note of sadness. For the first time in many years, missionaries over the age of 50 with five years’ experience are being asked to consider voluntary retirement due to a financial shortage at the International Mission Board. This situation did not happen overnight. I’ve read many explanations and possible solutions such as a special offering or increased Cooperative Program giving so we can avoid bringing missionaries home. While both suggestions are good, it’s too late; retirement offers have been made and missionaries are making their decisions. The problem has existed for too long to find a quick solution. Ironically, the conclusion of the missionaries’ service will happen during December, the time we are all praying in earnest for them and the people they serve. It certainly adds a new dimension to our praying this year.

Heather's Holiday To-Do List

It’s so easy for me to overlook something during this time of the year . . . a gift for someone that slipped my mind, a special dessert, or even a tradition that means something to our family. I just get too busy!

This year is no different. I overlooked our family Christmas card.

I’ve sent a picture Christmas card to friends and family since the Christmas I was pregnant with our first son. It’s become a tradition for our little family. I kept putting it off this year because I didn’t have just the right picture for the card. And then, I looked at the calendar and realized that it was the week before Christmas, and I hadn’t ordered a card, much less mailed it.

Sigh.

So, I went to Facebook and posted this picture and explained it this way, “This is the first year in a very long time that I won’t be sending Christmas cards. Considering this is the best Christmas-type picture I have of the boys, maybe you’ll understand why I didn’t create a card to share with friends and family this year.”

Some friends laughed with me while others declared that I should have used the picture for our card. Maybe next year . . .

Impact

What do you truly value? Today’s culture applauds success, beauty, power, wealth, and status. Being considered “humble” is certainly not a label to be envied. Yet a large group of Christian writers can point to the encouragement and mentoring of a couple greatly characterized by their humility.

David and Joanne Sloan, both respected and successful writers, responded more than 20 years ago to God’s call to equip Christian writers for fruitful ministry. They founded the Southern Christian Writers Conference, which convenes annually in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

As conference directors, their organizational work and personal contributions were never referenced nor were their own impressive credentials. Even serious health issues were hidden. Their goal was to teach writers to pursue their dreams of writing to honor God. Additionally, twice a year, the Sloans opened their home to provide small groups a day of more intense training.

Christmas Traditions

Growing up in Mission Friends, Girls in Action, and Acteens, I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know about Lottie Moon or the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Giving to this special offering each year is just as much a part of my Christmas traditions as decorating my house, baking holiday treats, and caroling with family and friends!

While Lottie Moon will forever be my “missions hero,” she was very much like the missionaries serving around the world today. She heard God’s call to go to China, and she obeyed. For 39 years, Lottie faithfully lived among the Chinese people and shared the love of Jesus with them.

While there, she wrote numerous letters home asking Southern Baptists for their support through prayer, financial gifts, and missions involvement. As a result, Southern Baptists gave enough money to send three more missionaries to China.

To honor Lottie Moon and her missions efforts, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is collected each year at Christmastime. The entire offering—100 %— directly helps missionaries around the world tell all God’s children about Jesus!

Learning from a Preschooler

Preschoolers always teach me a lot, but this was particularly true last week as a preschooler taught me about Indonesia. Each year during the first week of December, national WMU has a program and open house to observe the Week of Prayer for International Missions. People from many surrounding churches come to sing Christmas carols together, meet retired and stateside missionaries, pray for missions, and sip a cup of hot apple cider. Sometimes we might Skype a missionary or show a video of a missionary, but this year we were blessed to have special workers who serve in Indonesia as speakers at our Week of Prayer program. They are on stateside assignment and will return to Indonesia soon.

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The Man I Admire

Unlocking the door, I walk into my home after a long day at the office. The floors are swept, the house dusted, the dishes are clean and there he is—smiling, welcoming me home.

His acts are never done in order to be praised, he sees a need and he will work as long as it takes to complete it. Staying late at church he makes sure all the trash is picked up from the youth group. He is always the first to volunteer to carry in boxes, set something up, or volunteer for an event.

If I’m being honest, humility is not something I have consistently prayed after in my life. I’ve struggled with how it is embodied and wanted to learn how it plays out in day-to-day life—then I met my husband.

It is so not about him.

He will serve until everything is done. He doesn’t desire to be praised, it is simple for him; his desire is to live a life of excellence before the Lord, honoring Him in everything he does.

My Secret Gift

When I was in second grade, I grew my hair out to donate it to an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients. By December, I finally felt like my hair was long enough to cut off eight inches. My aunt is a hairstylist, and she agreed to give me a haircut at my grandparents’ house on Christmas Day.

When I first looked in the mirror after I heard the loud snip, I was taken aback by the drastic difference. My hair was short! But when Aunt Jen handed me an 8-inch ponytail, a warm feeling of excitement bubbled up from inside me. Someone with cancer was going to wear my hair.

Pretty soon I was flitting about my grandparents’ house, getting oohs and ahs from all of my family. “Rachel, your haircut looks so good,” they told me. “And that’s amazing that you’re donating it to help people. How cool!”

It didn’t take long before my head (not my hair) started to grow. Later that afternoon my Nana pulled me aside. “Rachel, I’m very proud of you,” she said, “but I want you to remember something. The Bible says that when we give, we should give in secret. The best part is that God is watching, and He will reward you” (Matt. 6:1–6).

Language Learning

My gifts are teaching, speaking, and writing. I have known two of these for a while and one was just beginning to develop back in 2011 when I stepped on the distant soil of Madagascar. I was anxious to develop relationships and share the gospel with anyone who would listen. That was, until about ten minutes later as I went through customs and realized no one could understand anything I was saying.

For the first couple of days, it was entertaining. It was almost comical how much we could not understand and how little we could communicate (unless it was in the form of pointing and gestures). Soon though, our lack of communication became part of our motivation to learn the language and to learn it quickly! Over the next six months, we were in formal language school and once we passed our final exam; we moved to the town where we would do ministry. I began to understand that I would indeed never be out of language school . . . it may not be formal but there would always be something new to learn.

Eight Things You Need to Know About Lottie Moon

Many people in our Baptist churches ask each year, “Who is Lottie Moon?” Others have been giving money in her honor for so many years they ask, “When will ‘the debt’ to her ever be paid?”

Let’s learn a few things about Lottie Moon.

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