KAREN HODGE | CONTRIBUTOR
Encourage- [en-kur-ij] to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.
Last week marked the two-year anniversary of my role as PCA Women’ s Ministry Coordinator. Even though I served as a volunteer leader within PCA Women’s Ministry for over seventeen years, assuming Women’s Ministry as a full-time job brought another dimension. It has been an opportunity for growth and one that has required a lot of reinforcement along the way. You see, what I really lacked in many ways was courage. Courage is finding the strength to face difficulty or fear. This calling has given me great joy but it has also caused me to face fears and difficulties amidst all the unknowns that I could never have imagined.
Because I have personally known and admired the other three women who have held this position before me, I fear careless stewardship. I am the beneficiary of years of faithful service, so I feel the weight of stewarding it well for the next generation. One of the difficulties I have faced in this new position was how to manage the time commitment. For 25 years I have had the privilege of being heavily engaged in ministry alongside my husband, Chris, who is Senior Pastor at Naperville Presbyterian. How would I merge a national ministry and a local ministry? I also wondered, how many hours are there in a week? 168 to be exact, which seemed far too few for all that I needed to accomplish. It was at this point I knew I would have to face my fear of disappointing others. A key leadership concept I have tried to comprehend this year is that effective leadership is disappointing people at a rate they can absorb.
All of these pressure points would bring me to a place where I was hungry for encouragement.
Morsels of Encouragement
The Lord has met me time and time again in His word. He reminds me, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV). He has also placed His Word in His perfect timing in the mouths of His beloved servants. His providential morsels of encouragement from many of you have nourished me. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to deliver it daily. It is like food; without it, we will wither. These morsels have come in the forms of phone calls, texts, and emails. Other times it is a handwritten letter or tangible reminders of truth that I keep on display in my office. Because I am quick to forget and lose courage I try to keep myself surrounded by physical testaments to the truth that God is good and I am not alone.
Encouragement is a contagion. It spreads from woman to woman. It can change the trajectory of a relationship or a culture of a church. One of the great joys of my calling is witnessing life on life encouragement in Women’s Ministry.
Just this last year I have seen:
Women encouraging other women to step into leadership positions.
Women urging other women to share their stories with the next generation.
Women supporting other women in crisis situations.
Women heartening other women when they are weary in well-doing.
Women spurring other women towards courage as they teach for the first time.
To Encourage and Equip
Our mission here in PCA Women’ s Ministry is to ENCOURAGE and EQUIP all women to fulfill their God-given design for the glory of God. If you had to boil my job description down to one word it would be–CONNECT. Our office seeks to connect people to people, churches to churches, and people and churches to sound resources. Some of those resources are virtual such as our website or Facebook Page. While others are people, such as our Women’s Ministry Trainers and Regional Advisors. Our bi-monthly Connect newsletter will primarily be used to EQUIP all women to fulfill their God-given design by providing Women’s Ministry tools and resources.
I am very excited about the launch of our enCOURAGE blog. This will prayerfully be a place to enCOURAGE all women to fulfill their God-given design through relevant reminders of truth. Since my need for daily encouragement is well documented above, you better believe I will look forward to receiving a new blog post each week. I encourage you to subscribe and share this blog with your friends.
May God grant us a culture of encouragement amongst the women of the PCA such that it would validate the claims of the gospel to a watching and encouragement starved world.
“But encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV).