Today’s article is a continuation of an interview conducted by Stephanie Edge with Chris Adams about Chris’ experiences in women’s ministry and leadership. (Read part one.)
Stephanie: Leaders are often faced with criticism. What is your personal strategy for processing and responding to criticism and failure?
Chris: Often, criticism can go over my head unless it is very obvious. If it is, I try to ask God what He wants me to learn from this and if there is validity to the comment. I ask, “Can I do something about this?” If I cannot, then I have to drop it. If the criticism is unfounded and offered in an impolite way, I try to remember to pray for that person. Sometimes I have to repent first for my negative attitude about it and them.
Stephanie: You recommend that every leader read Beth Moore’s When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. Why is this book an important resource? What are the temptations that leaders must guard against? How do you guard against these pitfalls in your life?
Chris: This study teaches us that anyone can fall without meaning to or expecting it. If we think we cannot be touched by certain sin and failures, we are ripe for a failure. We must keep our armor on and watch for those places where the enemy is seeking to attack us or the ministry we serve. We must pursue holiness in every area of our lives. Pride, as mentioned, is one of the easiest ways to get on the wrong track.
Stephanie: A challenge for leaders is staying current and abreast of new trends in their respective areas of ministry. What type of books, newsletters, websites, conferences, etc., do you make use of to stay fresh in women’s ministry? What are you currently reading?
Chris: I am constantly reading. I read books on leadership, trends, spiritual growth, and Christian fiction to unwind.
Newsletters: Jennifer Rothschild’s newsletter, Christianity Today Leadership newsletter, GenTrends, George Barna’s Update, Lina Abujamra’s blog, LifeWay Women’s All Access, and various others I receive or are sent to me. Websites: Jennifer Rothschild, George Barna, LifeWay Research, depends on the topic I am looking for (Google helps).
Conferences: mostly online/simulcast conferences like Barna Frames simulcast. And I listen to all of the Women’s Leadership Forum breakout sessions that we record. I would like to attend more, but my travels often prevent extra weekends away. We do host meetings from time to time that are with multigenerational leaders. I always learn so much in those days together (and I usually share that info here.)
I am currently reading Undaunted by Christine Caine, The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury, and Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge. I’m going through the Bible chronologically as well and I’m about to start The Family of Jesus Bible study.
Stephanie: Training or investing in future leaders is one of the responsibilities of a leader. How are you investing in the lives of upcoming leaders? What advice would you give to women who are called to women’s ministry and are just now entering or looking for places of service?
Chris: Each summer, I work with an intern. She gets to participate in various training events and work on different training projects while she is here. I also get to meet other interns at LifeWay working in other areas since we want our interns to get a big picture of LifeWay and ministry, not just the area they serve in. At times young women will just contact me to see if we can have lunch. I love those times of getting to know them and getting to talk about ministry with them as they drill me with questions I teach on our seminary campuses yearly and get to talk to many students of all ages. I work with my women’s ministry in my church. Much is done by way of training events, webcasts, and emails. I think it’s most important to be actively serving in women’s ministry in your own church — right now where you are. Don’t wait for that “somewhere out there opportunity.” Let God open the right doors, watch for them, and be willing to step through (and step into the water) when God leads. Don’t try to force it. He will do it His way in His time. Prepare all you can in the mean time with training, reading, and seminary.
Stephanie: A normal occurrence in leadership is the necessity of dealing with conflicts that arise. What are some tips for seeking to address and resolve conflict?
Chris: Pray, pray, pray. I do not like conflict. But the more I put off confrontation, the more I worry about it. I don’t want to jump the gun in dealing with it, but I want to move forward rather than waiting. Sometimes, I ask advice from those wiser than me to give me guidance and pray for me.
Stephanie: As people, we all have 24 hours in a day. In addition, we have new challenges daily and continually grapple with the tyranny of the urgent. How do you seek to maintain balance between family, church, and career responsibilities? How do you prioritize your time?
Chris: I have to ask God daily to not let me miss any assignment He has for me, to let me know Him better at the end of the day, and help me not to do something He has not given me to do. I do not get it right daily, but I do have that as a goal. I weigh opportunities that are outside my “have to’s” to see if I should or should not add that to my day. I exercise almost daily, have a quiet time, and try to add some away time to my life as often as possible, even if it’s just a few minutes a day or occasionally each week.
Stephanie: The demands and burdens of leadership can be overwhelming. The needs of women are great and the task of ministry can be endless. As a leader, how do you avoid burnout and ensure that you are in the game for the long haul?
Chris: Recognize the signs of burn out, let go of what you cannot control, organize your life and ministry so you do not always live in chaos, and continually read God’s Word. If you see yourself getting overwhelmed, ask an accountability partner and others to pray for you. Remember God has others to do the work too. It’s not all up to you.
Stephanie: What do you see currently happening in women’s ministry?
Chris: There are women with a hunger for the Word who are in the Word unlike ever before. In addition, women’s ministry leaders have a passion, calling, and vision for reaching women. They are concerned with purpose and desire to make a spiritual investment in the lives of women. I also see younger women jumping on board the missions train in huge ways today.
Stephanie: List your top five leadership/ministry tips.
- Don’t neglect family for ministry.
- Take “retreats” — 5 minutes, an hour, a day or a week.
- Be personally accountable to another woman who loves you and prays for you but is not impressed with you!
- Don’t be afraid to “step into the water” (Joshua 3:15) when God tells you to. He will part it when you need it parted.
- Surrender it all to Him. It’s all about Him.
What great advice from Chris, who has served in women’s ministry for more than 35 years. On a personal note, from someone who knows her well, Chris Adams is the real deal. She is one of the most consistent, effective, and productive women’s ministry leaders today. And I am grateful to call her my friend.
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.