A note from Chris: We are beginning a series of leadership interviews at the suggestion of my friend and women’s leader, Stephanie Edge. She asked that she write the first post in this series using past interviews she has done with me as she was earning her degrees. Today is the first of a two-part article that she wrote.
By Stephanie Edge
One of my greatest joys as a women’s ministry leader has been getting to know and learn from Chris Adams. Chris began working with women at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. Then, she received a call from LifeWay Christian Resources, formerly known as the Baptist Sunday School Board, asking her to pray about a move to Tennessee. Chris joined the LifeWay team in 1994 to help women’s ministry leaders in local churches develop women’s enrichment programs, and currently serves as the senior lead women’s ministry specialist. Chris is an active member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., where she serves in the areas of discipleship and women’s ministry.
I had the privilege of interviewing Chris about her experiences in leadership and women’s ministry. I wanted to share this interview with you. I think you will be encouraged by her insights.
Stephanie: What qualities do you think a leader should possess and why?
Chris: To me, one of the top qualities is integrity. We see so many leaders in all different types of responsibilities, including ministry, whose integrity has been in question. Scripture tells us that Christians are to “model” a life of integrity and purity. Many followers have been hurt by leaders who have not led lives of truth and honesty in a public realm.
Christian leadership depends on a specific call to serve in a unique way. All Christians are to serve in the Kingdom, but in that, God calls us all to serve in specific ways in which He equips and gifts us to carry out that task.
Authenticity is related to integrity. We can hide large parts of our lives that make us “real” to others. Being real—with real joys, real sorrows, and real trials—makes leaders approachable.
S: What is your leadership style or personal philosophy of leadership?
C: My spiritual gifting is strong in administration and leadership. Being an administrator means I have to be careful not to try to “control” everything and everybody. I also have a passion to teach. I love to teach Scriptures and support it with personal experiences of how God has worked in my life.
When Christians hear God’s call to serve, practice using their gifts and skills, and obey and follow even when they feel they aren’t equipped to do the task, they get to see God do the work.
S: You had the opportunity to work as a part of a church staff at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. What tips do you have for relating to church staff, communicating your vision, etc.?
C: Understanding a man’s way of communicating is essential when serving with a mostly or all male staff. Remember that the men also have a special guy connection among them to be able to debrief the Sunday service. When I went on staff, I was careful not to try to dislodge the camaraderie they had with one another, but at the same time to be a female voice on our staff representing at least half of our congregation.
As we communicate vision and concerns, we need to keep it short and to the point. Emotions are not bad in staff meetings, but over use of them can be distracting and unprofessional. If we have a concern with a particular person, we do not need to address that in a staff meeting, but one on one or in a smaller setting.
Getting input from our staff ministers is always helpful to our ministries, and lets them know we do cherish their opinions and leadership.
S: I have heard you teach on the Moses complex that leaders often face when stepping out into ministry or new areas of ministry. How have you personally moved beyond those feelings of inadequacy, fear, and comparing yourself to others to a place of confidence?
C: Speaking in front of my church for the first time when public speaking was my greatest fear was definitely one of the greatest challenges early on in ministry. But as I obeyed what I had been asked to do I got to see God do what I knew I couldn’t!
When I came to LifeWay, it was a huge step of faith. But God called me and my husband to make the move, and He has blessed me beyond my imagination in the 20 years I have been here.
He challenges me daily to do things “I cannot do,” but, when I do them in His power, He blesses me in a way I do not understand. When I do it in my own power, it just seems to be “flat.”
S: On the other end of the spectrum is overconfidence. How do you guard against the temptation of pride when you experience success and receive accolades from others?
C: I try to always remember this is not my ministry, but I am doing this out of obedience to God’s call. And because I know I can’t do this job without His direction and the power of the Holy Spirit, it keeps me focused on bringing Him glory. I loved something our Next Generation pastor said one Sunday before New Year’s Day: “Our students want to make Jesus famous with their lives.” That is my heart’s desire, even when at times pride can sneak up from behind. Repentance brings me back to His feet on my knees. Remembering “where I came from” helps.
S: What are the greatest challenges you’re currently facing in leadership?
C: TIME! There is so much to do and they are all great things. I have to make sure I am doing the “best” things. It’s a daily struggle to try to keep balance in my life personally, spiritually, ministerially, and relationally. Being an administrator, sometimes I tend to get bogged down in details and trying to get it “perfect.” I certainly don’t get it perfect, but trying to sometimes gets very exhausting.
Right now in this season of my leadership, my challenge is to stay focused, remembering that when I am no longer in this position, what I do now is investing in future leaders and someone who will take this position to a whole other level for the next generation of ministry to and with women. I want to make sure I am spending the best time on the best things to be able to do that well.
Stay tuned for part two of Stephanie’s interview with Chris Adams.
Stephanie Edge is the director of women’s ministry at Poplar Heights Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn., and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She is an associate professor at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and an adjunct instructor of women’s ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She has a passion for God’s Word and ministering to women.