I came into the Bible study exhausted, un-showered, wearing a baseball hat, and clutching not a Bible, but a Tupperware container that held my cold, left-over dinner. All around me swirled comments and scripture readings, but on that night, the best I could do was show up and absorb it. And it was amazing. You see, until that fall, I had been the leader of that very Bible study. For years I arrived dressed and prepared, sparkling and engaged, mentally ready and willing to share and teach God’s word. I poured hours into the group; I mentored and encouraged the women and rarely needed a week off. God gave me the gift of teaching and the time to prepare. But then my schedule changed, and I couldn’t keep all the balls in the air. In fact, the balls were falling everywhere. I knew I had to step down from leading the Bible study. I still worked at the church by day, but God made it increasingly clear that my evenings would require a different focus and a reshuffling of priorities. It was time to replace myself. Often in ministry we face this transition with fear. Our roles, whether paid or volunteer, handle the very word of God. What if all the work we’ve done is swiftly undone? What if years of relationship building are lost in the face of change? What if the person who comes after us is not gifted in the same way we are? Here’s the answer: Relax, it was never about you...
In their new book, Life-Giving Leadership, Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt explain that life-giving women’s ministry comes from confidence in Christ, not in ourselves. Without it, they warn, women’s ministry can become a life-taking, destructive activity. There is a third kind of women’s ministry. It may run smoothly and involve lots of the Bible study and service of which Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt speak in their new book, but unlike what they describe, there is no life in it. That’s because it is life-faking. The authors hint at life-faking when they say in their book Transformed, “We feel guilty and hypocritical when we try to play the part of the perfect wife, mother or daughter, but we don’t have to pretend. Paul holds before us the exhilarating idea of transformation.” Life-Faking Ministry A male example of fakery is found in the character of the older brother in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. The prodigal son, after rebelling, found reconciliation after he confessed candidly to his father, saying, “I am not worthy to be called your son.” The older son, who had stayed home, revealed his divided heart when he jealously complained to his father about all the attention the younger brother received. He said, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29). Apparently, the older son’s expectation of the relationship with his dad was not covenantal, but contractual. He demanded his due. The father’s response is poignant: “Son [note that he reminds him of that important relationship], you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours” (v. 30). The father points out the important part of the relationship, implying sadly, “You and I shared togetherness all this time, whereas the younger son missed out on the relationship. Isn’t closeness with me enough for you?” It wasn’t. The older son wanted to celebrate with “his friends,” apparently not with his dad. And so Jesus asks us, “Are you following me to be with me, or to get something from me? Are you in a genuine relationship with your Father, or have you been faking?”
In 1995 God used an unassuming, unflashy woman as an instrument to spark a revival of humility and surrender in the hearts of thousands of Christian leaders. Nancy Leigh DeMoss (now Wolgemuth) had been asked to speak to the staff of CRU and taught about the kind of heart that God revives for his glory, and the necessity of a lifestyle of surrender and humility. Christian leaders serving with CRU were deeply impacted and their leadership radically transformed as God’s Spirit convicted them about sin and selfishness. Hundreds of women will gather in Atlanta in two weeks to learn and growth together as women who offer life-giving leadership, rather than life-taking or selfish leadership. Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt share, “Our leadership is life-giving when it reflects Jesus’ person and purpose which is only possible because of his prayer and provision.” Here are three specific characteristics of life-giving leaders:
KAREN HODGE|CONTRIBUTOR Where ya headed? I get asked this [...]
RENEE MATHIS|CONTRIBUTOR “When in April the sweet showers fall…” [...]