Sheila West is a special friend and women’s leader who will encourage you as you read this post today. Ask God to help you incorporate these two essentials as you look forward to leading women in 2012.
I’m sure that it is just a matter of common sense that just because you get a car up to speed at seventy miles per hour doesn’t mean you can let up on the gas. If you don’t keep the fuel flowing, the vehicle will slow down to a stop.
The same is true when we are responsible for keeping the momentum of women’s ministry moving. We can not rest on our laurels of past experience. We must keep pressing on with a commitment to purposefully pursue ways to minister effectively.
What does that look like? Even though there are massive amounts written on leadership, for me, there are two essentials: 1) being driven by a passion of purpose and 2) forever learning.
First, being driven by a passion of purpose means always keeping the end in mind. The end result of women’s ministry is equipping women to move in natural increments toward a more Christ-centered life as they purposefully fulfill the great commission. The focus is who women are becoming not on what are women doing. A passion of purpose fuels women’s ministry because it is about seeing His gals look like Jesus in the world rather than being driven by the pressure of being boxed into what women’s ministry looks like in the church.
Secondly, since we live in an ever-changing world, leadership in ministry requires developing a mindset of forever learning, an attitude of teach-ability. The willingness to learn and re-learn, is a crucial factor in keeping the “pedal to the metal.” Here are five components I have discovered that contribute to becoming a lifelong learner:
1. Learn by observing. Be on the alert to notice what is going on around you. Instead of resting on what you know, continually ask yourself, What don’t I understand, and how can I learn it?
2. Stay flexible. Trade in the mindset, “but we’ve always done it this way” for an attitude of expectation and adaptability. Our world is constantly changing – computers that were the greatest and latest yesterday are obsolete today. Manufacturers know about the critical need for continual upgrading in order to compete. We must maintain a ministry position of flexibility in order to meet new challenges in effectively reaching women.
3. Be a good listener. The true leaner is always open to acquiring advice and information from those around her. Practice listening to what others are saying – not to respond, but to understand and absorb. Soak in all the information you can acquire.
4. Learn from followers as well as leaders. In our cultural pre-occupation with authority and position, we often forget how much we can learn from those who are on our team. They have strengths that we don’t. And often their position as “followers” gives them insight and perspective that we don’t have. Don’t limit your range of vision to people who are high-profile.
5. Fail forward. Failures don’t have to be setbacks. When you learn from mistakes, failures can put you ahead. Use them as stepping stones to insights you can put to use in the future.
This year, ask yourself as a leader, how to I lead with a passion of purpose and what do I need to do learn in 2012 to effectively lead the women God has placed in my path?
Sheila has been involved in women’s ministry for over 25 years, serving as Director of Women’s Ministry for over 20 years in the local church. She is presently on the Leadership Team for Heritage Community Church, Lady Lake, Florida, including coordinating women’s ministry. She is the founder of Real Living Ministries, a speaking, teaching, and leadership development ministry to women. Sheila is also a contributing author to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, Revised and Expanded edition. Sheila has appeared on numerous Christian radio and television broadcasts, including The 700 Club, and 100 Huntley Street. She is the author of Beyond Chaos, published by NavPress and is a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She and her husband, John, are the parents of two and proud grandparents of eight.