As you seek to lead ministry to women, how do you know who to choose for leadership? How do you know what other women need from the women who lead them? Are you afraid you will choose the wrong person? There certainly are no perfect women in our churches or communities, but you can take steps to help you in these decisions. Let’s take a look at some good characteristics to identify in women’s ministry leadership. Others exist, but these should be primary considerations:
1. She relies on living by and teaching God’s Word.
It is crucial that potential leaders study the Word personally and with other believers. Women in leadership must see Scripture in a way that honors God and leads women to Him. It is exalted in her life and is clear in her attitude and actions. She depends on it for daily sustenance and decisions. She honors God and His commands and is quick to confess disobedience. She teaches the Word accurately and honors its intent. She spends time studying the Word and teaches others to base their lives on its truth. She memorizes Scripture and encourages others to do the same.
2. She relies on prayer as her foundation for life.
Prayer is intimate time with her Creator, Lord, and heavenly Father. She says “let me pray and ask God about this” before answering. She is sensitive to prayer needs and eagerly prays with people. She has seen God answer prayer in her life and wants that for others. She understands the privilege of praying for herself and interceding for others. She may teach classes on how to pray, lead a women’s prayer group, or be called on for prayer. She may not be highly visible in your church but a godly woman who understands prayer’s importance.
3. She relies on the Holy Spirit for emotional stability.
As you minister, you quickly learn of the emotional pain, confusion, and turmoil many women live with each day. Pain affects women in different ways but always should be viewed through the lens of Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. As you hear women’s stories of abuse, trauma, and loss, it is wise to first pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight and understanding into their stories and His work in their lives. Ask them questions such as: 1) What did God teach you about Himself during this painful time?
2) What did God teach you about yourself? 3) Where is God still working and teaching you from these painful areas? and 4) Where do you see God allowing you to use your story to encourage others or understand others better? Help her see God’s redemption of the pain for her good and His glory. God never wastes any life experience. He sees our lives beginning to end, and He is in complete control of everything that comes our way.
4. She serves her world by God’s design.
Every woman considered for ministry should know and understand her spiritual gifts and how God wants her to use them. Encourage her to learn and live in those gifts! Ask these questions: Do you know your spiritual gifts? If so, was there a time when you were not operating in those gifts? What was that like? Did God open your eyes to ways you could serve in your giftedness? Her answers will help guide her to learn and serve with her spiritual gifts. A second component is how she serves in a way that honors and prioritizes family and relationships. Many women stay busy with serving and ministry to the detriment of their families. Encourage volunteers to consider taking something off their plate before adding something new. Encourage leaders to keep their relationship with God central to keep from giving God and others leftovers and them being frustrated, tired, and not living the abundant life Christ promised.
5. She invests in and disciples other women.
Titus 2:3-5 commands older women in the church to teach, guide, and model godly living to younger women. Do the women you are considering for leadership have a Titus 2 heart? Do they desire to invest in younger women in their family, community, or church? A discipling leader will have this heart’s desire. Do older women have opportunities to encounter younger women so they can take that first step of mentoring? Do you create cross-generational Bible studies where women intentionally connect? Young women readily ask for older women in their lives. As you consider women to lead in your ministry, be sensitive as to whether they have a mentoring, discipling heart, which should be their motivation to serve other women.
I pray these five distinctives give you guidance, insight, and direction as you prayerfully consider women for leadership. God transforms us to look more like Him. Leadership in the church will give women opportunities for this type of transformation: “He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6).
This article is excerpted from Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level compiled by Chris Adams.
Dawn Stephens has been involved in women’s ministry in both volunteer and staff positions for many years. She is the associate minister of local disciple making and women’s small groups at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala. Her desire is to train, equip and encourage women to use their God given gifts and abilities to show Christ’s love and grace to our world. She graduated from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Women’s Ministry certificate program, has served on the Alabama Baptist State Women’s Ministry leadership team, and serves as a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier.