A Women’s Ministry Leadership Interview with Dr. Deb Douglas
Today we continue our series of interviews with women’s ministry leaders serving in various capacities in an interview with Dr. Deb Douglas, a friend who I’ve known for 15 years.
Deb is the minister to women at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, La., and also serves as a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. Launching her first women’s Bible study at the age of 20, her passion is encouraging and equipping women to serve. She’s a conference and retreat speaker, strategic planning consultant, freelance writer, and contributed to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level. Deb holds a Masters of Arts in Christian Education/Women’s Ministry and a Doctorate of Education in Ministry degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She is the wife of Paul, mom of Jared and Katie, mother-in-law to Emily and grandmother to Caroline.
Chris: Deb, we know your current position is full time staff as minister to women. How long have you served in ministry?
Deb: 38 years. I started at 20 in student ministry and began my leading my first women’s Bible study.
Chris: That is a long time, Deb, but most of us start out serving as lay people in our church and then somehow end up (sometimes) in a career in ministry. How did God lead and prepare you to serve?
Deb: It began as a child as my mother led women’s Bible studies in our home. I would sit outside with my back to the house and the windows open (we had no AC). Her voice would just flow over me as she taught. At 16, I realized God was calling me to trust Him fully and follow Him into ministry. I couldn’t understand how He could use me — I was a woman! Women could only be church secretaries or missionaries [at that time] and I knew neither was for me. I finally relented at 23, giving up a full scholarship to law school that I’d already been accepted to. [But I have] no regrets! At first, I continued leading student ministry and holding women’s Bible studies using material I wrote or MasterLife. In 1994, I was at Ridgecrest Conference Center — by this time I was leading all discipleship in our church — and God narrowed my focus to women’s ministry. And that’s where the adventure really began going crazy!
Chris: It’s always interesting to see how God gets us from one place to another isn’t it? Deb, what is your greatest ministry challenge currently?
Deb: Balance! There’s so much to do. No, really the biggest challenge is the busyness of women. Women who are 35 to 65 are totally entrapped in busyness in our area. It’s the competition of being successful in all areas of life. And it’s killing them — and setting them up for easy temptation.
Chris: So, how do you try to balance full-time ministry and home and family?
Deb: I take Fridays off and spend them with my granddaughter Caroline. Caroline demands balance! And my attention! Saturdays are my husband Paul’s days. I don’t go in until Noon on Mondays, and I work from home as much as possible. Also, I vacation. And when I vacation, I unplug. The vacationing is crucial to my spiritual health. It’s my recharge, listen, and refresh time. I’m very blessed with a church that understands my needs. What I’m not good at? Getting enough rest!
Chris: Where are you seeing the greatest transformation in the lives of women?
Deb: The biggest transformation I see is with younger women and because of this, I pour into them. The other area is the ministry with former sex-trade workers I work with. What a joy to see a life totally changed!
Chris: Your church has truly had an impact on some tough ministries like sex trade. It’s powerful to see how God is using women who are not afraid to tackle those difficult places of serving. Tell us your No. 1 leadership tip you would share with other women in leadership?
Deb: Take care of yourself — physically, spiritually, and mentally — by realizing you can’t fix everyone or anyone for that matter! You can pour into lives but then it’s a God thing!
Chris: Deb, you’ve been serving in ministry for a long time. What do you wish you’d known when you first began leading women?
Deb: That a counseling degree would have been very helpful — more so than any other degree or education.
Chris: So true. I remember wishing I’d had more training before I found myself serving the women in my church and knew nothing about helping women in crisis. What are your dreams for the future of ministry to and with women?
Deb: To see older women as excited about being discipled and serving as the younger women.
Chris: Great thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Deb. How can we pray for you?
Deb: The spiritual warfare connected with ministering to sex-trade workers is intense. Satan does not like what we are doing and he doesn’t play fair. It’s increasingly ridiculous how he works. And not just to me, but with the girls themselves. Also, for my health.