myMISSION Leader Blog

A Beautiful Mystery

September is a great month . . . Fall is just around the corner while summer is still hanging on for one last breath of warm air. Summer can give us the feeling of taking a break. September puts us back on track and brings us back to reality, in a good way.

Students are getting their schedules and signing up for programs and activities. Professionals may be starting their first “real” job or getting back into the swing of things. Moms may be still trying to figure out how to get their infant to sleep through the night and maybe themselves as well. Or they are packing lunches, helping with homework, and figuring out a new balance for home life.

As leaders, we often wonder, what does God want now? Whatever season of life we find ourselves in, how will we define success? What will it take to know God’s will in this new day-to-day reality?

One missionary friend says that she is in transition, asking that same question. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, how do we know God’s will today?

So Far, So Good?

How’s your summer so far?

So far, I’ve had a picnic, seen a movie, slept in at least once, and hung out with friends. Thankfully, I love my job so I actually enjoy going to work, but I love getting off work as well to step into nature for at least a bit before dinner.

And then there’s the trip planning. Guess where I went? I was able to share about myMISSION at the WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration in St. Louis, Missouri. What an amazing opportunity! So many things were going on—evangelism and service opportunities in the city, reports from all the missions agencies, connections with friends both new and old, fun food to try, and different sessions to hear more about missions. We prayed and worshipped together, attended breakout sessions for different age groups, and found out about opportunities to jump into all year long. I loved getting to talk with people about where God is leading them and what missions opportunities they are seeking. We are celebrating all that God is doing in our world.

Summer Plans

Summer . . . plans. Really? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Summer is not supposed to be about plans. It’s about not having to have a plan! Or at least I used to think so. I guess summer as a grown-up isn’t always quite that free. I remember the feeling of getting out of the last day of school without a care in the world. I had nothing to do and no expectations—just rest, TV, making up games in the yard, or spending time with my grandparents. It was awesome, for a while. It didn’t take long to find out that there were still household chores to do, some expectations of others, and, in the South, a humid heat that drains your energy. Oh, and boredom, sunburns, and mosquitos.

I didn’t make plans back then but I’m pretty sure someone was making them. Summers are pretty awesome, but maybe having a plan isn’t such a bad idea after all.

May I Rest?

May . . .

I love May . . .

Warm air, sunshine, flowers, birds, strawberries—even mangos—my local store has mangos! What’s not to love? We have a holiday in May. It’s the end of school. My daughter was born in May. I love May . . .

So why am I tired? I don’t know about you but for some reason, this year, I’m not finding that extra boost of energy and excitement. Everything is good; it’s actually great! My family is great. I am happy, healthy, loving my job, growing in a community, and having opportunities to be on mission. Hmm . . . maybe, this May, I just need a bit of rest.

When you lead something—a group, a family, a trip, anything—you can become tired. I hear it’s OK to be tired. Jesus was tired. He took time to sleep in a boat, walk in a garden, pray alone, go to weddings, talk with friends, and even rest at a well.

Annie’s Example

Have you ever heard of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions? Have you ever heard of Annie Armstrong? Chances are, if you grew up in a Southern Baptist church you would have heard of her each year at this time. If you are new, this might sound like a distant history lesson:

Annie Armstrong was a lay leader in Southern Baptist life in the 1800s. And guess what? She started out in what we would call today myMISSION. By the age of 31, this single young woman was helping to start a mission organization in her home city of Baltimore. She was soon using her gifts at the state and national levels. At the age of 37, she helped start Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and strategically led it to become the global influence it is today. At the age of 55, “Miss Annie” left the organization in capable hands and focused the rest of her life on grassroots works in her city.

Annie was a young woman who changed her city, state, nation, and world. Are there any “Annies” in your myMISSION group?

What could we be doing today that could change our world in our lifetime?

Different Is Good!

What does it mean to be a leader? I think it can mean many different things. I’ve had the privilege of starting 2 different myMISSION groups and have loved every minute of it! I lived in Seattle, Washington for a few years—that was where I started my first group. I now live in Birmingham, Alabama, and I just helped to start another group. They are very different from each other but I’m loving it . . . I said that already, right?

Different is good. I’m learning that God is doing something different in each of our lives and that our groups can reflect that amazing collage. So many different colors and shapes, different callings and places in life, different opportunities, different ways of growing—different is good!

Building a Philosophy

Let’s talk some more about our role as myMISSION leaders.

Here are some questions to help you decide how you will lead and what kind of leader you want to become. This would make for a good journaling activity. Think about each question and journal your answers so that you can come back in a few months and evaluate how you are doing.

Doing Versus Being

Leaders are busy people. That is certainly true for myMISSION leaders who feel like they are performing a juggling act of responsibilities. However, as leaders it is easy to substitute or confuse serving God with loving God.

Serving God focuses on what we do. We may mistakenly begin to think that the more we do or the better we do it, the more we please God. We work tirelessly, often neglecting our bodies, our families, or other responsibilities, all the while convincing ourselves we are being a great leader in God’s kingdom.

However, throughout the Bible God tells us that His greatest goal for us is to live fully and freely in His love and respond to His love by loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Loving God focuses on being. Being God’s child, fully loved and free to enjoy a loving relationship with Him, is what God desires for you. The goal is to live fully in God’s love.

Christian leaders need to intentionally engage in a process of spiritual formation in order to more fully understand and live in this love relationship with God. Spiritual formation is:

One by One

I want to know a little bit about your myMISSION group. Are you reaching new women each month? Have you reached a plateau? Are you in decline? Are you helping women match their God-given talents with the needs of the community in which they are planted? Are you on the lookout for those opportunities? Are you using myMISSION Leader along with Missions Mosaic for creative ways to share missions information and ideas for missions projects?

I started a new missions group last year. I’d like to tell you that we are a large group, but that is just not the case. We are a small group of seven or eight. We have other women who weave in and out joining us for various missions projects. And sometimes we have as few as three of us who meet together.

However, I’ve learned that sometimes less is best. Smaller groups allow us to make friends and share what God has done in our lives. As we move out to do missions, a handful of women is less formidable than a large group. Even if we had a large group of women who came together, I’d break them down into small groups to head out to do missions. I believe in the power of small.

Becoming an Effective myMISSION Leader

Just because someone has been a leader for a long time doesn’t mean she has arrived. All leaders can learn, grow, and develop. Leadership training is offered through state WMUs. Classes are now provided through Develop, WMU’s online, on-demand leadership training. We want you to be an effective Christian leader through your leadership role with myMISSION.

Being effective means producing the desired results. As a myMISSION leader, you want your group to learn more about missions, give to missions, and do missions. It is the leader’s responsibility to continually and clearly keep this vision at the forefront.

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