Naaman was refined and a fine looking gentleman with lots of class! Captain of the Syrian army and second to the king (see 2 Kings 5), Scripture describes him as a great man, a valiant warrior and highly respected. But, he had one big issue – leprosy. One of the most dreaded diseases in the ancient world, it was painful and incurable.
Leprosy was his most visible issue. But his most dangerous issues were hidden in his heart, and they could have cost him his healing. As leaders, what is hidden in our hearts can keep us from receiving a blessing also.
Unmet Expectations Reveal What’s Hidden
Naaman learned he could possibly receive healing from the Prophet Elisha’s God. So, off he went to Samaria with laurels upon his head, medals of honor and valor draped over his chest. He filled his chariot with gifts and a letter from the king of Syria to the king of Israel.
After greeting the King, Naaman arrived at the house of Elisha. His goal was to show honor to Elisha by arriving in a grand fashion with his chariot and retinue. He expected to be treated with the same honor he gave. Instead, he was treated quite unceremoniously.
The prophet didn’t even come to the door. He sent a servant to convey the message of how Naaman would be healed. Expecting honor and healing, instead, Naaman received humiliation. He was angry. And when his expectations were not met, the pride hidden in his heart surfaced.
How to Examine Our Heart
Like Naaman, we tend to be well acquainted with what we expect in life. But, are we as well acquainted with what’s in our hearts? As leaders, it’s important to be regularly examining our hearts before the Lord, following these three steps:
The best way to examine our heart is to ask God to do it for us. Psalm 26:2 says, “Test me, Lord, and try me; examine my heart and mind.”
After asking God to examine our hearts, we must stop and listen for the Holy Spirit’s response. If we ask without listening, we will miss what God has to say.
As the Lord examines your heart, when He reveals something to be removed or even enhanced, be purposeful to obey Him in those revelations.
Thankfully, Naaman listened to his servants, followed the instructions given him by Elisha’s messenger and received healing from his disease. My encouragement to you is to follow this example. It takes discipline and a heart of humility, but the fruit of blessing that you and those you lead will enjoy because of your constant self-examination will sure be sweet, my friend!
Question: How are you doing at taking time to examine your heart?
Jennifer Rothschild is a best-selling author and Bible study teacher and founder of womensministry.net. To learn about how God sees you, check out her new book, Invisible. Find details at theInvisibleBook.org. Facebook Twitter Blog
Have you ever had an important project or goal to accomplish that you just can’t get to? Every day you have the best intentions to start, but evening rolls around and you transfer it to the next day’s agenda.
Usually the work I put off is my best work. The work I fill my days with is busy work.
Busy work looks different than it did years ago. It used to be mindless work, like stuffing envelopes or filling out forms. Today busy work looks important, but it’s not our best work. Usually it’s someone else’s work that dictates our daily schedule.
There’s been a cultural shift in the past 10 years that silently affects us all. We wake up and immediately start responding. We answer emails, texts, private messages. Before we know it, our day is filled. And our best energy and effort has been given to other people’s projects.
Spend the First of Your Day on Priority Tasks
We have things upside down! The things that matter least replace the things that matter most in our schedules.
If you are nodding your head right now, may I suggest an alternative approach? Rather than start your day on busy work, get in the habit of spending the first part of your day on your priorities. This involves the simple habit of reordering our work.
Resist the urges to knock out some of the small tasks so you can focus on a big task. That doesn’t work. By the time you get to your best work, you will have depleted your focus and willpower to tackle it.
Avoid the Black Hole of Emails
Maybe you’re like me and emails are a big part of your day. When I’ve got a big project due, I can’t get sucked into the email vortex. It’s a black hole!
If you must check email in the morning, just scan for emergencies. But don’t respond unless it’s a true emergency. You could set-up an auto-response email that says “Thank you for your email. I’ll be back in touch with you as soon as I’m able.” That honors the sender, confirms the receipt and puts you in control of the response.
We teach people what to expect from us. If we reserve our mornings for our priorities, people will know to wait on our response. And then we will finish the day knowing we have didn’t get stuck doing busy work – we did our best work!
Question: How do you order your daily work so that you make time for the priorities?
Glynnis Whitwer is Executive Director of Communications at Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is a writer for Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 email devotion and author and co-author of 8 books. Her 9th book, Taming the To-Do List, has just released. Glynnis, her husband, Tod, have five young-adult children and live in Glendale, Arizona. She blogs regularly at GlynnisWhitwer.com.
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Have you ever felt swallowed up in the dailiness of ministry? Sometimes crossing one thing off the list seems to make three more things jump on the list! I know you are working hard as a ministry leader and yet sometimes you may feel as if, in spite of all you do, no one sees you.
The truth, dear sister, is that you are noticed by the One who matters most. So, when you feel invisible or unnoticed, here are three Truths to tell yourself:
Truth #1: I am dearly loved.
Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
I want you to tell yourself the truth in the best possible way — the way that will get through to you and give you reassurance that you’re a somebody who matters. So say it with me right now: “[Your name] is loved!”
Truth #2: I am accepted.
God backs up this truth in His Word: “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV).
Amazing, isn’t it? You are not only accepted in the beloved, you are accepted by the beloved Himself — God. You have value. You have worth. You are visible to Him!
When you accepted Christ, He accepted you. You may sometimes feel rejected, but how you feel is not who you are! You are accepted, acceptable — no exception! So find a mirror right now, look into it, and repeat the following words: “[Your name] is accepted.”
Truth #3: I am complete.
Colossians 2:10 says, “You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (NKJV). When you said “I do” to Christ, you became complete in Him. He gives you Himself completely. We are complete when we are found in Him.
When we have Christ, we have no need for anything more. Now, we can still sometimes feel unfulfilled, but discontentment is a feeling, not a reality you dwell in!
When Jesus died on the cross, His final words were, “It is finished.” And when He said it, He meant it — it is finished, completed. So it’s time to look in the mirror and say that truth to yourself: “[Your name], you are complete!”
The work you do as a ministry leader may sometimes feel like it goes unnoticed. It may seem like others don’t see you and all you do. But, the Lord sees you. The next time the daily duties of ministry weigh heavily, hold tight to 1 Corinthians 15:58, which reads, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Question: What truths do you speak to yourself when you feel invisible?
Jennifer Rothschild is a best-selling author and Bible study teacher and founder of womensministry.net. To learn more about how God sees you, check out her new book, Invisible. Order the book this week and get a free audio book plus other fun perks. Find details at theInvisibleBook.org. Facebook Twitter Blog
Does your women’s ministry team do a great job of creating excitement for events, but have difficulty managing the details involved in the planning process? Or, does your team work tirelessly on program details, such as table arrangements, food selections, and brochure designs, only to be discouraged by sporadic attendance or spotty interest? If either scenario sounds uncomfortably familiar, it is possible you lack diversity on your women’s ministry team.
We are all drawn to people who think like we do. But when you are assembling a team of women to organize and promote events, diversity is important. Be strategic as you select members for your team. Let’s consider some vital members that help bring balance and diversity to a women’s ministry team.
Vicky the Visionary helps other women visualize the great works God can accomplish through an event. Her inspirational communication style motivates the team to look beyond what has been done in the past to the realm of new, fresh ideas. Vicky is all about the “why” of an event and often acts as a cheerleader and encourager for others on the team.
Sarah the Strategizer has the God-given ability to take the vision God reveals to your team and break it down into a series of sequential, achievable steps. Working together with sisters-in-Christ to plan a God-honoring event is exciting, but that excitement can fade to complacency without a well thought-out plan. Sarah is goal oriented and helps provide the framework necessary to meet deadlines and put together a successful event.
Tammy the Team Builder has the supernatural ability to find and match up the right people with roles on a team and responsibilities related to an event. Tammy has a knack for identifying women’s gifts and talents, and seems to instinctively know how to assemble a team that can operate effectively as a mini-body of Christ.
Amy the Administrator is an organizer. She has the administrative gifting to organize people, processes, and resources associated with planning an event or program. Once she is mobilized and given clear perimeters and expectations, she will manage the details necessary to ensure the program runs smoothly.
As you pull together your next women’s ministry team (or teams), be careful not to restrict your recruiting efforts to women who think just like you do. Be strategic and keep these member-types in mind as you prayerfully assemble a diverse, dynamic team of women who will work together to plan God-honoring events for the women of your church and community.
Question: How do you strategically select team members? Share in the comments below!
Mindy Ferguson is a national retreat and conference speaker who teaches God’s Word with passion and conviction. President and founder of Fruitful Word Ministries, Mindy is the author of five books, including the Eyewitness Bible Study series, published by AMG Publishers. She has served in women’s ministry leadership for 20+ years and her greatest joy is spending time with her husband and their two adult children.
While outreach and evangelism are critical for any church ministry, let’s not forget to minister to the women whom are already in the faith and within arm’s reach. God’s Word says,
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith. Galatians 6:10 NLT
As such, I have 10 thoughtful in-reach ideas for your women’s ministry:
- Host a work night to make frozen dinners for a sick, busy or new mom. Not only does this make a great fellowship, but it will certainly help a sister out!
- There is nothing more touching than receiving a “God Box.” Get your DIY skills on and fill it full of encouraging items, like a praise and worship CD and chocolates.
- Shower someone with cards! Ask women to send a card with a nice note and scripture to someone in need of cheer.
- Put together a sustenance basket. Fill it with magazines, crossword puzzles, a Bible, snacks, a roll of quarters and other items that will sustain a family while they sit with a sister at the hospital.
- Offer to babysit for large and foster families so the mom can get a real break. Several families can be served at one time.
- Hold a mini-church service at a bedridden sister’s home, complete with singing, prayer and Bible study. Include much laughter.
- Send care packages filled with helpful items to your collegiate girls. Provide names and phone numbers for when they need a listening ear or encouragement.
- Periodically host a meet and greet for some of your newer female church members to better connect with them. Consider hosting it in someone’s home for a cozy atmosphere.
- Pause your Bible study class or fellowship to lay hands on and pray over a woman who is either sick or overly burdened. Please bring tissue.
- Host a woman’s night of worship. You can bring me a casserole, send me a card or call me, but nothing ministers or refreshes me more than a corporate worship session with other women.
Remember, in-reach is just as critical to the overall health of the women’s ministry of your church as outreach.
Share With Each Other: How do you reach in to the women in your church? Leave a comment below.
Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mom and Director of Women’s Ministry at First Baptist Church in Portland, Tennessee. Through her book, Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray, she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Click here to learn more about Gina’s new ebook project, Publishing Dreams.
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Yesterday, I met with some of my Bible study teachers. When Megan arrived, she settled in a chair, looked at the ladies gathered around the table, and, with a sigh, announced, “I have missed being with women!” The rest of us felt the same!
Summer is a great time for families and relaxation. But, the erratic schedule and unique dynamics of the season sure puts a strain on women’s ministry and our relationships with each other.
However, as women’s ministry leaders, we can proactively work to stay connected to the women of the church and keep them in contact with each other. Then, when “normal” returns in September, we won’t have lost momentum. And, you can do it from wherever you happen to wander this summer by taking advantage of technology and social media.
Here are a few ways to continue ministry, maintain contact, and foster relationships between the women of your church during the summer:
- Online Bible Study – Organize an online Bible study group for summer. Use a closed Facebook group for women to share insights and ask questions anytime that works for them.
- Prayer – Organize your women into small prayer groups. Assign a leader to keep things moving. They can share requests via group texts or email.
- “Spontaneous” Fellowship – Use your women’s ministry’s social media accounts to publicize “spontaneous” fellowship events. For example, plan a picnic at a local park for moms and their kids. Since families keep a super flexible summer schedule, don’t publicize the event in advance. Instead, blast social media with invitations the night before and the morning of the event. Keep it simple! Invite them to bring their kids and a sack lunch. The point is simply to get your women together.
- Meet New Friends – Again, take advantage of your ministry’s social media accounts to foster relationships between the women of your church. Once or twice a week, introduce a woman and her family to the women of your church. Share a photo, hobbies, and interesting facts. The goal is to encourage the women to connect with each other and make new friends.
With a small amount of effort and the right tools, you can keep ministry moving and women relating, all summer long!
Kathy Howard is a women’s ministry leader in Houston, Texas. She is also a speaker and the author of six books, including Unshakeable Faith and Embraced by Holiness. You can find her blog and free discipleship resources at kathyhoward.org.
Just about every women’s ministry in the country wants to know the answer to the question, “How do I get all the different generations involved and working together?”
While there is no set answer or perfect program, I’ve learned and seen some things over the years that can increase our chances of bridging the generational gap in women’s ministry. Join me in keeping the following items in mind as you plan for the coming year:
Model It — Identify some leaders in each generational segment and spend time with them. Encourage these women to rally their peers to branch out and get involved in the work of the ministry. Discuss with them how best to inspire others their age to branch out.
Share the Vision — Paint a picture for the ladies of what ministry could and should be like if we were all working together to reach the lost world. Dream a dream with them of how each others’ strengths can build up the Kingdom in general. Take advantage of opportunities to teach women to have a ‘we’ mentality not an ‘us vs them’ mentality and to focus on the positives about the other groups. Remind ladies that it’s not about trying to turn the other generation into them — they’ve got that covered. It’s about leading them to use their unique giftedness to do what God has called them to do. It is time for the older women of the church (yes, that’s us over 40) to free the younger women up and unleash the Holy Spirit in them to do what only they can do as we do what we are called to do. Together ,we can reach so many more for the Gospel.
Provide Opportunities — Be intentional about planning. Offer fun, challenging, fulfilling events that include inter-generational interaction. This can happen in the way that you assign tables or pair people together. If you have an event where women sit at tables, then provide questions or topics for them to respond to that will embrace different ages and stages.
Celebrate — Whenever you have the chance, celebrate and tell the stories of life change that happens across generations. Try to include both perspectives and make a big deal out of the relationships that develop. You can do this type of celebration live at events and gatherings, or you can tape short videos that tell neat stories and post them to a social media page or send as an email. When women see how someone like them was blessed be reaching out across generational lines, they will be looking for ways they can get involved as well. My husband always says it this way: “Celebrate what you want repeated.”
As you implement the ideas above, be sure to keep the end-goal in mind. The reason we aim to bridge the generation gap is to fulfill the commission given us in Titus 2. Remembering this will provide the passion and heart we need to bridge the generation gap.
Share With Each Other: If you have ideas to bridge the generation gap, leave them in the comments below!
Rachel Lovingood is a wife, mom, author and speaker. With a passion to see people dive into God’s Word, her teachings are based in the Word and lead people to experience true life-change through application of Scripture. Rachel founded Impact Resources which offers strong, Biblically-based resources for students and adults. Learn more at rachellovingood.com or find her on social media (rachellovingood).
Admittedly, I’m a dreamer. Often, I’m caught in thought – planning, wondering and imagining a variety of things. Most of the time they are ministry related. The words of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech cause my heart to beat faster, as the dreams God places inside me begin to form picturesque visions in my mind.
As a Women’s Ministry leader, I believe God wants us to be “Dependent Dreamers.” We must dream big dreams and depend on a big God.
In closing out chapter three of Ephesians, Paul pens a beautiful doxology. “Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” (Ephesians 3:20 KJV). I like KJV here, specifically because it uses two words to talk about how God wants to supersede our dreams and expectations – exceedingly and abundantly! He doesn’t just want to add a pretty centerpiece to our women’s conferences and make sure the color schemes match, He wants to rock our ministries! The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the grave is the same power working in us and through us to lead our women’s ministries.
I’m as guilty as anyone of limiting the Lord and not giving Him enough access to my life or ministry. Could it be that we think our plans are better than His? Are we scared of what He might ask us to do? As you plan and prepare for the upcoming season of ministry, I want to encourage you to dream bigger. Let’s think outside the proverbial box and see how God shows up in exceeding and abundant ways!
Action Step: What are three dreams you would like to see fulfilled in your women’s ministry? Write them down.
Lord, You are the author of our dreams. They are birthed in the deep recesses of our hearts, created and formed by You. These dreams we write down today, we offer to you for Your glory. We know that You are able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think or imagine or dream according to the power that works in us.
Do your thing Lord. We are depending on you! Amen.
Have you experienced God superseding your dreams in women’s ministry? We’d love to hear about your experience. Comment below to continue the conversation.
Sara Robinson was drastically changed through her encounter with Jesus, and now passionately leads women on their personal journey of faith in Christ. Sara is a wife to her very own Dr. Phil, mom to a miracle child, coffee enthusiast and lover of shoes, accessories and all things Sephora.
The other day someone was telling a story and I was so intrigued that I asked a lot of questions. The problem was not the questions but it’s the idea that my many questions – sometimes voiced mid-sentence – did not convey what I wanted. I wanted her to know I am interested in what she was saying but, instead, my questions said that I’m not listening.
I wish I could say this didn’t happen very often, but I’m realizing it does. And I also realize that good leaders, good friends and good spouses all have one thing in common – they are good listeners. Perhaps that’s why we are commanded to be “quick to listen” in James 1:19. So, I am on the journey of purposefully becoming a better listener.
Thankfully, listening is a skill that can be improved upon. Let’s consider these tips to becoming a better listener:
- Remove Distractions: Multitasking and listening do not go well together. If you want to be a good listener, be intentional about pressing the pause button, putting all else aside and giving your full attention to the person speaking to you.
- Hold Questions Until the End: If you are afraid you’ll forget your question, keep a pen and paper and quickly jot down your thought. If you need to do this, it’s a good idea to let the other person know up front so she isn’t surprised when you start writing while she is speaking. Of course, don’t write so much that the speaker thinks you aren’t paying attention – just a note to remind you what you wanted to ask.
- Make Eye Contact: If you are purposefully making eye contact with the other person, then it is a little easier to be intentional about listening to what is being said.
- Listen Objectively: This one can be extremely difficult but it’s also very key to listening well. If you allow yourself to get caught up in emotion, then you forfeit the ability to listen. Anger may cause you to lose the ability to hear anything at all because it has put up a wall. On the flip side, excitement may make your mind swirl with ideas so that you don’t hear anything else that’s being said to you.
It will take practice and intentionality, but we can all become better listeners. And, the positive effects will be felt and even seen as your team and those around you feel heard and valued.
Question: What methods help you to be a leader that listens well? Share below!
BONUS: Leave a comment and you could win a copy of A Woman’s Guide to Hearing God’s Voice. Winner will be selected randomly from comments submitted before Wednesday, July 8.
Denise Alvarez serves as the Executive Director for womensministry.net, a service of Jennifer Rothschild Ministries. She is passionate about loving leaders well and equipping members of womensministry.net to be the women God is calling them to be. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
I stood in exhausted shock after the first women’s ministry event I coordinated. I was the hero of the day, and I couldn’t quite take it all in. After waving good-bye to the last gushing attendee, I looked at my friend Peggy and said, “I have no idea what to do with all of that praise.”
She smiled wickedly. “Don’t worry. The criticism is coming.”
She was right.
Within weeks I heard that there were a group of women in the church commenting negatively about my leadership. The euphoria of the past event was a fast-fading victory in the face of harsh criticism.
“This isn’t what I signed up for,” I whined to God. Things had seemed to be going so perfectly, but now I couldn’t see anything except the negative. There’s nothing that drains the joy from leadership like conflict with others.
During that time, God directed me to the book of Acts during my morning reading. It wasn’t very far into my study when I realized church leadership has been messy from the beginning. Peter and John were imprisoned, and Stephen was stoned. Peter and Paul argued over traditions. Paul and Barnabus parted ways when they couldn’t agree on ministry partners.
God makes it clear in the Bible that ministry isn’t perfect in any way, but my over-glamorizing and perfectionism has led to disappointment over and over. Worse, it’s caused friction with my team or the women I’m leading.
Relationships shatter when we value perfection over people.
Fortunately, I was ready to learn a new way of thinking when I faced being the object of gossip. Although I wanted to cling to my grudge against the women talking behind my back, a wise mentor urged me to forgive them and to pray for a renewed love for them.
She helped me to give up the hurt caused by imperfect circumstances. Once my emotions were under control, I began to put myself in their shoes. The conflict ended with a healing conversation in which I was able to let these women know that I cared about their concerns and I’d always give a listening ear if they came straight to me.
Ministry is messy, but Jesus gave just two commands that cover all the others, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10: 27 NIV)
If we’ll love God, prioritizing time to strengthen our relationship with Him, and we’ll love people by prioritizing them over our own ideas of perfection, ministry will still be hard, but it will always be worth it.
Share in the Comments: How have you learned to value people over perfection?
BONUS: Leave a comment and you could win a copy of Amy’s new book, Breaking Up With Perfect (releasing July 7, pre-orders available now). Winner will be selected randomly from comments submitted before Wednesday, July 1.
Amy Carroll’s passion is leading women to deeper delight through the matchless pleasure of rich relationship with God and others. Amy is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ speaker team, author of Breaking Up with Perfect and the director of Next Step Speaker Services. Visit Amy at her blog to join her in a journey toward more joy.
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