To make an impact with women, we have to be willing to connect on a personal level
You spend hours in planning meetings, trying to put together wonderful events for the women
in your church with the hope of helping them live productive Christian lives. Yet time and again, they don’t show up. Your leaders have done all they can to get the women in church excited and nothing seems to be working. You’ve prayed and you’ve fasted and the only logical conclusion left is to dissolve women’s ministry altogether—after all, there’s no need to separate men and women; Jesus didn’t appoint a director of women’s ministry to assist him in feeding the five thousand.
In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John C. Maxwell illustrates the points of success, which boil down to connection. How well we connect is the foundation that relationships are built on, and that includes relationships with our spouses, children, co-workers, business partners, and people in ministry. If we want to make an impact we have to be willing to connect on a personal level.
Something Is Missing
A while ago, I attended a church that produced weekly bulletin announcements for the congregation. I would often respond, with much anticipation, to requests for people to serve in women's ministry. However, my anticipation turned to aggravation while I waited for responses. I finally contacted the church secretary to find out why I was not hearing from anyone, and I was told it was due to the busyness of the year. Okay, I can certainly understand busy seasons at church; however, I was slightly confused as to why announcements were created, printed, and distributed if no one was prepared to respond to people interested in serving.
An interview with Executive Director for Engage International, Mindy Caliguire
What are the top three things women leaders need to know about soul care?
On thing is they just need to decide what they want. That may sound a little too simplistic, but a lot of times we think that spiritual formation, or living from a place of soul health, is going to require some radical change. And in some people’s lives maybe it would, but often the more radical change is inside us, declaring, I don’t want to live this way anymore. When we decide what we want, that unleashes all kinds of spiritual resources to help us solve it. It requires desire and vision well within reach of a woman leader.
The second thing is that it’s their responsibility. They’re not victims of their environment. I stayed in a victim place way too long, and I blamed everybody else for my pace of life, what was not working, etc. Some of us feel like everything is outside of our control or outside our power.
The third thing is that it changes constantly, at least in my life. There is not some fixed solution or prescription. For example, just the other day, something came up that made me think, Wow, that’s the kind of thing that I might devote some fasting to. I don’t think I’ve fasted in six years, whereas it was huge in some seasons of my life. So some things come and go as needed. Sometimes silence is a huge part of our life and then other times it’s very much about study or meditation, any number of things.February 27, 2014
An interview with Executive Director for Engage International, Mindy Caliguire
At Gifted for Leadership, we’re all about encouraging women to understand that God has gifted many of us specifically for leadership and that if we have that gift it’s not really our choice whether or not we use it; it’s just a matter of where and how and whether we put it to good use. How has God called you to use the leadership gifts he has given you?
Like many women, I was a bit of a reluctant leader. I have a lot of ideas but I wasn’t used to being the person who was looked to. Over time, God very gently called me, through the validation of community where people were giving voice to how my input was helping either the organization or their lives specifically. People were coming to me and saying, “Why are you not stepping out? Everyone is looking to you for guidance in this scenario and yet you’re not stepping up.” So it took a bit of prodding from the community.
An interview with Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber
She was called into ministry in a comedy club. When Nadia Bolz-Weber, working as a comic, lost a friend to suicide, her community demanded, “Well, you’ll do the funeral, right?” They’d identified her as “the religious one.” Nadia describes the experience of delivering his eulogy: “I looked out at this room of hundreds of people—comics, academics, queers—I realized that I felt called to be a pastor to my people.” Today she serves the Denver congregation she founded, House for All Sinners and Saints.
Your sense of call to ministry was atypical. Tell us a little bit about it.February 20, 2014
I was so busy serving, I lost sight of God.
When I became a Christian, the biggest thing that changed about me was my self-centeredness. Before becoming a Christian, I mistakenly thought I was an extrovert because I befriended people who I thought would be useful to me or who made me feel good about myself. After I became a Christian, I realized I was an introvert. My attitude toward people changed when I understood I was here to serve them, not the reverse. Suddenly people became draining rather than invigorating.
In spite of that, I threw myself wholeheartedly into ministry. Those who led me to Christ pounded into me that the only thing that lasted on earth was people, so if I was not investing in people, my time on earth was wasted. Even though being with people started to feel like it was sucking the life out of me, I felt compelled to be as involved as I possibly could with those in our church, which translated into volunteering for any need that was obvious. If someone needed a children’s worship leader, I volunteered, even though working with kids wasn’t my forte. When it was pointed out that we should have a women’s ministry in our church, I took it on, even though I’d had no experience in such things. Occasionally I even did things I liked, such as teaching an adult Bible study, but those opportunities were hit and miss. I just felt lucky when I actually enjoyed something I was doing. It never occurred to me that should have been the norm rather than the exception.February 17, 2014
…or did I?
When I was first invited to write an article for Gifted for Leadership on the topic of “health,” my initial reaction was hesitation.
It’s not that I don’t love the topic. I have long been a strong proponent of intentionality in the areas of physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health. These areas are all interrelated. God has created us as whole persons. When one area is out of whack, the others are impacted as well. If I don’t get enough rest or don’t eat well, it affects my mood. If I have unresolved conflict in a human relationship, it troubles my soul. If I am stressed, it is difficult to experience God’s peace and my emotions will manifest themselves in physical symptoms such as sleeplessness and knotted muscles in the back of my neck.
How many lives will be lost before we change?
I’m hidden under blankets in a bedroom of the parsonage next door to the church my husband pastors. My limbs are cinder blocks. My gut, a pool of quicksand. I hear a muffled voice. “Mom? It’s time for dinner. Mom?”
I roll onto my back and squint my eyes up at Zoya, ten years old, the easiest baby for me, the one who still crawls up in my lap and rests her head on my breast like she’d nurse if she could. “Hi.” I clear my voice. This is where it gets tricky. I don’t want my Major Depressive Disorder to scare my kids. I glob together blips of energy in my body. My mind gathers them like worn-out pieces of leftover pie crust that won’t stay together, even with a little flour and spit.February 10, 2014
It took a crisis in our home to make me stop and wake me up to reality
“Does your family demonstrate a spirit of peace?” I heard the preacher say. “No!” I yelled inside myself. Little did anyone know, our family was in a state of crisis. Our oldest son’s behavior was getting worse every day; he was finally diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, and depression; and our three-year-old was picking up on our older son’s negative behavior and attitude. Having the diagnosis was a relief, but we still had no idea how to deal with our son’s mental state and bring love and peace back to our home. Our marriage was suffering as a result of exhaustion in dealing with it all. To say our home was void of peace would be an understatement. It was in shambles.
All of this was happening while I would be traveling to speak at various conferences and events, writing articles, and producing shows in my city on social justice issues. Projects that usually would energize me were exhausting me of all I had, leaving me wanting to avoid family issues when at home.February 6, 2014
Leading and serving should not come at the cost of our own health and well-being
When Solomon decided to build a temple for Yahweh, it took seven years to complete the task. And no wonder. It was both enormous and ornate. 1 Kings 6:34-35 reads, “There were two folding doors of cypress wood…decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers—all overlaid evenly with gold.” The specificity and care that went into planning and constructing the temple communicate that God cares where he dwells.
Many years later, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “[Our bodies] were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies....Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (1 Corinthians 6:13-19). If God dwells in us, what we do with our bodies matters—to him as well as to us.
However, Christians often elevate the spiritual realm above the physical realm—perhaps unknowingly influenced by a rogue strain of gnosticism that infiltrates our postmodern culture. As a result, we devote substantially more time and energy to praying, reading Scripture, and planning for our small groups than we do caring for our bodies. I discovered the problems with this logic firsthand.February 3, 2014
If you can’t find healing in the Body of Christ, where can you find it?
Lisa is going through a divorce and she’s afraid to tell her fellow church members. She is slipping deeper and deeper into depression, with no one to talk to. John has lost his job and he’s having an emotional breakdown. He’s questioning his worth as a man since he can’t provide for his family. Sarah is in an abusive relationship and she has developed low self-esteem. Brad is being bullied at school and is suicidal. Laura doesn’t like her body and has developed an eating disorder. Sam was sexually abused last year; no one knows, but he’s smoking marijuana to cope with the pain. Keisha comes to youth group every week, but she cuts herself every night. Kyle serves at every outreach event, but he’s lonely because his wife of 25 years left him.
All these individuals* are Christians and all of them attend church regularly. They all love Jesus and have a relationship with him, but they are hurting. Who should reach out to them? Is it the church’s responsibility to help them? Is it the church’s job to support them? Is it the church’s obligation to walk with these people until they get to a place of wholeness?