Written by Janet Findley
It’s hard for me to believe that almost nine years ago I said yes to taking my first steps into my current role as a women’s Ministry Leader at Central Church. How quickly those nine years have gone by.
It all began very innocuously with one of my pastors asking me to lead a women’s small group. “Sure, I can do that!” was my enthusiastic response. A year later I was asked by the same pastor to coordinate all the volunteers needed to run our on-site women’s groups weekly. This was a much bigger role with a much bigger time commitment, and I still had a fulltime job. The words “Sure, I can do that!” flew out of my mouth.
Almost a year later, our women’s ministry went through a transition, and I found myself asked to step in as a leader. A HUGE step for me! I still had my full-time job and this was an even bigger time commitment. What do I do? I prayed often and talked with my husband and it became clear to me that this is what God was calling me to do. So I said yes.
Yikes! What did I just get myself into? I had many days in the next few months when I doubted the wisdom of that decision and freaked myself out. I thought, “I’m not qualified to do this! I can’t do this! I need to change my yes to no!” But God was in this with me from the beginning and He calmed my fears and gave me what I needed when I needed it to move forward. And, little did I know at that time that God had even bigger plans for me in the future.
I retired from my job, and God tapped me on the shoulder and expanded my role as a Ministry Leader at my church. He changed and expanded my ministry role from just women’s to include leading Open and Senior groups weekly with my husband. Wow God! Are you sure? If anyone had told me nine years ago that I would be in ministry full time now, I would not have believed them. In fact, I would have thought they were crazy!
It has been a huge blessing to serve as a Women’s Ministry Leader and now in my expanded role as a Ministry Leader with Open and Senior Groups. But it has also been a journey full of self-doubt, pain, and very trying at times. There are several things I wish I would have known before I stepped into my Ministry Leader roles.
Never Take It Personally
I didn’t know just how critical and at times mean-spirited people could be. Mean things are said behind your back and sometimes to your face. The speaker thinks they are saying it to be helpful and sometimes because they feel they are right and you are not. They do not censor themselves and try to speak God’s words to you. The result is that what is said can be very hurtful. I had to learn to pray about everything and really lean into God and trust Him to get me through. I had to learn to keep my temper and tongue in control because I am part of church leadership. I had to learn to look up – to God in prayer and to senior church leadership for wisdom and advice in handling these situations.
Always Be Flexible as a Leader
I am a very type A personality. I love plans, organization and routine. I wish I would have known that in my position as a Ministry Leader, I would need to hold things very loosely. Schedules can change frequently in the life of a church. A “yes” I may have gotten from senior leadership for an event, a schedule of meetings, or something else can easily change to a “no” as their vision and plans for the entire church shift and move. I learned that I must become more flexible in my thinking. I needed to understand that the senior leadership has the vision for the entire church while my focus is on my ministry area. I wish I would have understood the multitude of moving parts there are in a church, especially a mega church, and just how fluid they can be. Many times the best laid plans will change. I had to become flexible enough to understand this and not get upset when it happens, because it will happen.
EGR (Extra Grace Required)
I wish I would have understood that people are people no matter where you encounter them. Just because they believe in God and go to church doesn’t mean that they are magically transformed into the most reliable, dependable, kind and understanding people on earth. Many will volunteer and not show up. Others will say they will do something and not accomplish it. Some will not honor your deadline or timeframes. Plenty will gossip about you and be critical of you. None of us are perfect! I have learned to embrace the fact that no magic happens. I have learned to be gracious to them when they stumble because I want them to treat me the same way when I stumble. I have learned to meet each person and accept them where they are in their life. I have learned to let them see God through me. I have learned to teach this to others I work with in ministry so they can give God’s grace to others and not have a critical spirit towards them.
Never Bring Your B Game
I wish I would have known that as a Ministry Leader, I am being watched. All. The. Time. I used to think that people only watched me when I was up in front, leading our weekly groups. Boy, was I naïve and wrong! I had to learn and understand that I am watched in the grocery store, in the mall, in church, in small group, in fact, I am watched everywhere I go! I had to learn that this is part of being a Ministry Leader. We are held to a higher standard. I’m okay with that now. But I had to figure that out. Ladies would stop me and comment to me about how wonderful it was when they observed me doing this or that. Or they would question me about why I did this thing or that thing when they thought another way would have been better in their eyes. So I learned that I always need to be on my A-game because I am a Ministry Leader. People watch leaders all the time and look to us as role models and mentors. We are held to a higher standard. I am not perfect, but I do need to remember that I am observed all the time because I am a leader.
I love being a Ministry Leader. I truly believe God called me to this role. He is walking with me on every step of this journey. I also believe that He has taught me and is continuing to teach me what I need to know to lead strongly for him. In many ways, I’m glad I lacked insight into some of the obstacles I would face and continue to face as a ministry leader. If I’d known, I might have said no. All of the things I didn’t know were simply opportunities for me to really lean into God, trust Him and grow as He was teaching me. They were opportunities for me to really learn to give God and my ministry my very best yes.