Friend, and guest blogger Stephanie Edge is the Director of Women’s Ministry, Poplar Heights Baptist Church, Jackson, TN. She challenges us as leaders to think about making those things that will “remain” our priority in our lives and our ministries. Perhaps you are at a place in your service that you are struggling with this very issue. Read prayerfully and consider how God wants to re-direct your time and focus.
Dr. Fred Shackelford, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, recently returned to his alma mater to speak to a group of college students. He began by reflecting on his time as a student. In particular, he recalled what he had considered important, what he spent his time and energy on, during his college days. Shackelford had accomplished great things as a student, but was amazed by the temporal nature of some of those achievements. Memories of those experiences and his legacy had begun to fade as quickly as he walked across the stage at graduation. Therefore, Shackelford encouraged students to seek that which will remain, that which is eternal. He challenged the listeners to focus on worship – citing Mary’s devotion to Christ and her elaborate gift of expensive perfume which she used to anoint Jesus for His burial in Matthew 26.*
Shackelford’s message is applicable not only for college students, but also for women’s ministry leaders. In the Forward of Women Reaching Women, Anne Graham Lotz recognized that women would be confronted with alternatives (career, education, money, possessions, marriage, motherhood, sexuality, beauty, and recognition) to Christ. (7-8) These alternatives can inhibit women entering into personal relationships with Christ. Likewise, even women’s ministry leaders can become preoccupied with these diversions rather than pursuing that which will remain.
Shackelford and Lotz both identified possible distractions adhering to the principle that a relationship with Christ is to be preeminent. The acceptance, application, and manifestation of this principle are essential for a women’s ministry leader. A leader must first examine her priorities and then lead women to follow Christ wholeheartedly. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness …” (Matthew 6:33)
Concepts to Consider
Awareness is Key!
Society and the media seek to define who we are; how we spend our time, money, and energy; and what we value. However, the world’s definition of success is contrary to God’s Word. Two of the alternatives mentioned by Lotz, beauty and possessions, are particularly strong attractions for women. What does Scripture have to say about these?
Women spend a great deal of time and money on outward appearances searching for just the right looks and just the right outfits. Proverbs 31 addresses the character and actions of a good wife. Interestingly, when considering beauty, it states, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised.” (30) In addition, 1 Samuel 16:7 identifies what the Lord seeks. “… man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.’” How much time do you (women) spend daily on outward appearances? How much time do you (women) spend on the heart? Convicting, isn’t it!
Nice houses and new cars have become statements of our identity – who we are, our importance, our worth, and our value. However, Matthew 6:19-21 teaches, “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven …” (19-21) Ecclesiastes 2:4-11 also speaks to the lack of fulfillment found in possessions. These teachings are contradictory to a materialistic society. Much time and energy can be spent on attaining possessions and other pursuits which are only temporary.
In view of eternity, both beauty and possessions are fleeting and yet a great deal of time, energy, and effort are spent in pursuit of each. A woman’s leader must help women recognize that the most important thing – is a relationship with Christ, not what the world prescribes. Are you seeking to educate women according to what God deems important – that which will remain?
A Living Example is Powerful
As a women’s leader, you are an example to women and others and are accountable to God and to the local church. Frequently, an effective leader must take the time to reassess priorities. It is essential that your beliefs and actions be consistent. Actions speak louder than words, and you can bet others are watching! Do your attitudes and actions reflect an emphasis on that which will remain?
Ministries should reflect that which will remain!
Take time to periodically evaluate the focus of your women’s ministry (including the Bible studies, events, activities, etc.). Ask your leadership team what the priorities of the women’s ministry are, identify what you are currently doing, and determine if those priorities are reflected in what is offered. Time is a precious commodity. Therefore, intentional focus and effort are needed to make the most of every opportunity. Are you seeking to lead women to find personal relationships with Christ, to grow in His likeness, and to serve His kingdom? If not, you may have become sidetracked by what society deems to be successful. Only what is done to advance God’s kingdom in His power and through the Holy Spirit is that which will remain. “If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-14
Article "Shackelford: This life will be dust, worship will last" at http://www.uu.edu/news/release.cfm?ID=1943
*Dr. Fred Shackelford’s February 17, 2012 message is available at http://www.uu.edu/audio/
is the Director of Women’s Ministry, Poplar Heights Baptist Church, Jackson, TN and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She is an Associate Professor at Union University in Jackson, TN. Stephanie graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity. She also received an Advanced Women’s Ministry Certificate as well as completed a Th.M. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Christian Education. She has a passion for God’s Word and enjoys ministering to women.