A Note from Chris Adams: As a leader of women, one of the main responsibilities we have is to train others to serve. We need women to come alongside us to help shoulder the work God has given us to minister to women. Today’s article from Dr. Deb Douglas (First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA) gives leaders a plan for raising up other women to help minister to women dealing with messy lives.
Flu bugs are swarming everywhere we go. The mall, the church, the drug store, and the daycare are all infested. As leaders, we are not immune. After all, we are humans and all humans are impacted by sickness (i.e. a result of the fall. Wait, that’s a long theological discussion that no one is ready for this early in the year!).
The reality is sometimes we do not feel like ministering in the messy. We can barely hold down our own messiness. The truth is that it’s OK. We can step back and get well. The world will not end. Everyone’s crisis can wait. Or, someone else may have the opportunity to step up and serve.
Maybe, that’s the whole point. We need to give someone else a chance to step up.
Maybe it’s healthy for us to not always be the one to solve all the messy problems.
Maybe our theme for this year should be empowering others to serve by getting out of their way.
How do we equip women to serve alongside us? Here are a few ways to get started:
1. Begin before you are unable to serve. Watch women to see who has a potential to serve in the messy.
2. Invest in three women who have compassion, a desire to serve, and an understanding of ministry in the messy.
- Why three? Because three is manageable. Also because Jesus invested more intentionally in three disciples who would become leaders.
- Spend time talking with these women. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses.
- Offer training opportunities. Invest money in their training.
- Start small. Taking someone into the messiest situations may frighten them away or overwhelm them.
3. Pray for discernment in who to ask to minister alongside in the messy.
- Not everyone is equipped for the messy.
- Women who have lived in the messy and survived could be potential messy ministers. Don’t choose women still in the midst of the messy; they need time to heal and learn from the messiness before attempting to help others.
- Find women who have a story. Women with a story can relate to women in the messy.
4. When you are ministering in a messy situation, ask others to join you.
- Know the women asked to join in the messy ministry.
- Watch to see how the women react. Reactions will predict how well equipped they are to ministering in the messy.
- Pray together before going into the messy situation.
- Debrief afterwards.
- This is a great time for education. Point out what could have been done differently, any potential issues, and how to follow up.
- Listen for red flags such as a judgmental attitude, failure to honor a confidence, panic or anxiety, and unwillingness to have boundaries.
Training our replacements is wise and good stewardship. Another reason we need to be on the lookout for women who can serve in the messy is that God may call us into another area of service or to another place, town, or part of the world. The benefit to having others help us serve is it makes ministering in the messy more fun and less stressful. Burnout is a real threat to anyone in the messy. Knowing we have a backup plan takes pressure away and helps prevent burnout.
With the flu bugs flying, removing the pressure of ministry creates time to fight off those nasty, messy bugs!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.