By Monte McMahan Clendinning
Women may differ in appearance, temperament, and spiritual growth; but three factors are present in every woman: mind, heart, and will. Women think; they are emotional; and they are doers. While some women have a tendency toward one more than another, all three are important and must be involved to complete the learning cycle.
Christian educators quickly point out the significance of the Holy Spirit as the teacher (see John 14:26), but they are often unaware that these three elements could actually interfere with the balanced growth of women. For instance, a program that offers Bible-study opportunities alone cannot adequately complete the learning cycle. Balance is needed.
A woman’s mind must be involved if she is to learn and grow. She needs to read, study, think, memorize, and reason. As significant as this is, learning is incomplete if the heart and will do not follow.
It seems God has given women an unusual capacity to feel. When a woman studies something, her heart needs to be involved. She should ask questions such as: “What does this truth mean to me?” “How do I feel about it?” “How does it touch me?” Without the heart, learning can be intellectual and cold. Incorporating the heart helps personalize and apply the truth. But again, if ministries are planned to reach the heart only — apart from the mind and will — imbalance will occur.
The third factor is the will. Each learner must know and feel the truth; but she must also ask: “What will I do with this truth?” Or, “Because I have read a certain truth and responded to it from my heart, what action will I pursue?” Perhaps an example will help explain.
Suppose a devastating tornado strikes the town where you live. A woman reads about it in the newspaper (mind). As she reflects on the destruction, she feels for the people involved who have lost their homes and all they have (heart) and begins to ponder what she could do to help. As she seeks God’s guidance as to how she can help, she decides (will) to gather up extra clothing, bedding, and food for the victims. Thus, the woman’s mind, heart, and will are all involved.
In developing a well-balanced women’s ministry, pay careful attention to planning opportunities in which women can keep a balance between study and service. The woman who devotes her energies only to service without replenishing her spirit may face burnout. Likewise, the woman who only studies without serving will not grow as she could.
Jesus provides the model. The Gospels record numerous accounts of His being about His Father’s business and taking time to be alone with God. Others reveal His compassionate heart. And Mark 10:45 reveals His servant heart, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This article is excerpted from Women Reaching Women: Beginning and Building a Growing Women’s Ministry compiled by Chris Adams.
Monte McMahan Clendinning was a homemaker in Brandon, Mississippi. An author, speaker, and conference leader on various international fields, she retired from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as adjunct professor and also conference coordinator for the seminary’s World Missions Center. Clendinning passed away in 2005, leaving a profound legacy of ministry to women everywhere who now reap the benefits of her leadership and boldness.