I have to admit the title of this article might be considered click-bait. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s when a headline you see online might entice you to click because you think the subject is about one thing when it’s really about another. Honestly, the title is about as literal as it sounds. No metaphor intended.
Last week my co-worker and I were discussing women’s ministry leaders who help train at our You Lead events around the country (for more information about these events, click here). Mary Margaret made the comment, “She literally started her church’s ministry out of a closet.” My mind immediately raced back to my first day of work on church staff. Apparently no one informed the receptionist that I was coming. No one knew if I had a computer. I was escorted to somewhat of an office next to the maintenance staff. I spent most of my first day locating an unused desk behind closet doors and finding anything I could use to put together an organized space. I was told that email wasn’t allowed because it was deemed a distraction and would deter me from work. This might sound like it was the turn of the century. I guess it was—the year was 2000.
As I described my own experience, Mary Margaret shared her own past remembrance at a church. Again, she was given the equivalent of a closet as the full-time girl’s minister at a fairly large church. As she finished describing her closet experience, I made the statement, “I bet a lot of women’s ministries begin in the closet. We just don’t talk about it. Maybe it’s time we come out of the closet!”
If you are leading women in your church, you might relate to these stories. You might be struggling with finding value in your efforts. You might be discouraged at the place where God has called you. My response? It’s time to come out of the closet and find courage to continue in your calling. Just don’t be surprised if it looks different than your expectations.
Here are four ways you can be encouraged if you find your ministry undervalued or unrecognized.
1. Be encouraged even if you aren’t getting paid as the women’s ministry leader. While I would love for more women to be given the opportunity to be paid like other staff positions, take heart that you aren’t alone. From what I’ve gathered, more than 75 percent of women who lead the ministry in their church do it as a volunteer. On the other hand, more and more women are being given expanded roles and responsibilities on church staff. In my own church, I’ve seen women take staff positions leading recovery ministries, mission efforts, and as worship producers.
2. Be encouraged that your efforts aren’t hidden. While your office might be a closet or forgotten room, the Lord sees your heart and your hard work. The women you influence know you are a champion for Bible studies, purposeful events, and community/outreach efforts. What might seem like a baby step for your church may have huge influence in the life of your congregation. Remember Galatians 1:10, “For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
3. Your office walls don’t define where ministry happens. Who cares if you just have a closet? Your real ministry happens in relationships that happen outside the church walls. In fact, you might have a greater impact if you don’t have an office at all. Spend time cultivating relationships with other women in other places. Meet women in coffee shops, in homes, or wherever women gather. One of my best memories of leading a Bible Study was when I met with the wives of our city’s minor league baseball team. I spent time with these young women at the ballpark or wherever was easiest for them.
4. Be encouraged that your leadership has eternal rewards and impacts more than the women you see. You may never see the far-reaching effects of women’s ministry, but your efforts bring unity to the body of Christ, which bring glory to God. Because you are faithful to lead out of the closet, families are impacted, communities are impacted, and women spread the gospel to the world.
Take heart ministry leader, and don’t live secluded in the closet. God is not confined to a place and neither should you. Remember Acts 7:48: “But the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands…”
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.