A Women’s Ministry Leadership Interview with Stephanie Edge
A note from Chris: Today we continue our series of interviews with different women’s ministry leaders. Today we have an interview with Stephanie Edge.
Stephanie is the director of Women’s Ministry at Poplar Heights Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She also 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.
Chris: How long have you served in ministry?
Stephanie: I have been involved in Women’s Ministry for 15 years, since its inception at Poplar Heights. And, I have also served in college ministry for 10 years.
Chris: Tell us how God led and prepared you to the place you serve?
Stephanie: God prepared me through small leadership opportunities that led to greater ones, one step at a time and also through seminary education. As a college student, I had the privilege of being a part of the Baptist Student Union at West Georgia College in Carrollton, Ga., where I had my first leadership opportunities. When I began my first full-time teaching position, I continued my involvement with students through the Baptist Student Union at Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga. I began to sense God’s call for me to pursue seminary education. I enrolled in the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Atlanta extension center while continuing to teach. My next job opportunity led me to Union University where I completed a M.Div. at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. During my last year of seminary, I enrolled in a course called “The Practice of Ministry.” One of the requirements of the course was to implement a practical ministry initiative in a local church. As a result of that course, the Women’s Ministry at Poplar Heights was born more than 15 years ago.
Chris: Seems like we sometimes don’t see what God is doing to prepare us for where we are until we look back. Stephanie, we all face tough ministry issues at times. What is your greatest challenge currently?
Stephanie: Ministry can be compared to a marathon, not a sprint, and consists of both joys and struggles. The greatest challenge is to stay the course and fight the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7). Therefore, I cannot help but think of Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” Likewise, we have Paul’s example in Acts 20:14, “But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”
Chris: Great words, Stephanie. If we don’t look at the long range view of serving, sometimes we can get so bogged down in the challenges. Where are you seeing the greatest transformation in the lives of women?
Stephanie: The greatest transformation in the lives of women happens when they come to faith in Christ. This transformation is described in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” Secondly, transformation occurs when women come face-to-face with the principles found in God’s Word. Not only seeing, but applying His ways changes lives. “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Chris: What is your No. 1 leadership tip you would share with other women in leadership?
Stephanie: Guard your personal relationship with God. As ministry and life get busy, often the first thing to be sacrificed is that personal time with the Lord. This principle is especially important for those leaders who teach others. It’s easy to find yourself searching for insights to share with others at the expense of studying God’s Word for yourself.
Chris: I’ve learned so much from leaders who have gone before me — things I wish I’d learned earlier. What do you wish you’d known when you first began leading women?
Stephanie: To be honest, as a young women’s ministry leader enamored with ministry, I am not sure that I would have realized or accepted this piece of advice. But I wish someone would have told me that ministry is not always easy. There will be critics and there will be obstacles. These experiences are a part of the journey and how you respond will determine your longevity and your character as a leader.
Chris: What are your dreams for the future of ministry to and with women?
Stephanie: My dream for women’s ministry is that women would be equipped to study God’s word for themselves and learn to apply it to daily life; that women would discover and confidently use their spiritual gifts to serve others; and that women would be diligent and passionate followers of Christ.
Chris: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Stephanie. How can we pray for you?
Stephanie: Pray for the women’s ministry at Poplar Heights Baptist Church. For me personally, pray that I would discern God’s leadership, follow Him obediently, and fulfill what He has called me to do. “Pay attention to the ministry you have received from the Lord, so that you can accomplish it” (Colossians 4:17).