A note from Kelly King: Each month, we will feature a leader who ministers to women, either through the local church, a non-profit organization, or in the marketplace. In today’s Q&A, Chris Adams is featured. Chris was the Lead Women’s Ministry Specialist for more than 20 years until her retirement in 2017.
Who has been most influential in your ministry leadership and how did they influence you?
My staff supervisor at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, TX, Ron Wells. He knew how to disciple and build leaders. He pushed me out on a limb and said, “You can do it” the first time I had to speak in public in front of my church. No amount of begging would get me out of this responsibility. And for the first time, I saw God do through me what I couldn’t do! There’s no doubt He was preparing me for a vocation of public teaching! Rhonda Kelly (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary), Monte Clendenning (with the Lord, formerly with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), and Esther Burroughs (formerly with the North American Mission Board) also publicly and personally poured into my life and helped me learn how to serve, lead, and work for a denominational entity for the first time. Also, early in my ministry vocation, my husband encouraged me and even saw where God was leading before I did! And I have to include the ministry leaders I’ve taught alongside for most of my years at LifeWay (the original LifeWay Ministry Multipliers). Their lives and prayers have challenged and supported me for 20+ years.
How do you practically spend time with the Lord each day? What is your normal practice?
In retirement, it’s much more unhurried, and I am grateful. I get to spend as much time as I want on most days, and I LOVE that. BUT, even when my alarm clock went off at 4:30 all the years I drove downtown to LifeWay, it was a nonnegotiable (although not legalistic) because I KNEW all I did depended on my personal walk with Christ. I just couldn’t NOT have time with Him daily. And for me it had to be before my day really began, otherwise I just didn’t get to it. It includes reading Scripture (or working through a Bible study), a devotional or two, and prayer. The amount of time has depended on needs and work and travel schedules. In the evening, I read Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest.
What is your best piece of leadership advice to another women’s ministry leader?
Never forget that it’s not about you! It’s about Him, so remember your own spiritual growth is absolutely essential. You cannot teach fresh insights if you aren’t getting them from the Lord. When you do, then the ministry you have is one of overflow wherever God has you today. If your platform takes the place of His, your effectiveness will be lacking and you will fall hard. Wait for Him to open the doors, but when He says “take this step,” TAKE IT! And always seek to grow and learn. No matter how long you lead (and even in my life stage of retirement), there is still so much to learn about the Lord, relationships, and leading. We must NEVER think we know enough!
What is your current leadership struggle?
In retirement, leadership looks very different and less structured. For a very structured person, it’s been a challenge to try to figure out what it’s supposed to look like now. Letting go of former roles and embracing new can be difficult since it takes time to settle into the “new” way of serving. Feeling productive is important to me and yet my pace is different. I am still transitioning into life as it is now.
What “new” thing are you trying this year that is requiring faith?
Besides what I mentioned about my current leadership struggle, I’d have to say, retirement with my husband of over 48 years. We have looked forward to this for a while and are thrilled, but we were taken by surprise that it wasn’t as easy as we expected. After months of trying to figure out what was “off,” we realized that we were learning to live together 24/7 for the very first time. Although we have a great marriage, we never had done that before. It was kind of a “Duh!” moment for us both. The only other 24/7 relationships I’ve had in life were with my mom prior to kindergarten and my own daughters before they entered preschool! I am loving the slower pace of life, more family time, and unhurried time with the Lord, and I am continuing to seek to know Him and His Word more deeply. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know!
Chris Adams is an author, speaker, blogger, and women’s ministry consultant. She retired in 2017 after serving over 22 years as Women’s Ministry Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, Tennessee. Chris helped pioneer women’s ministry as we know it today and compiled three women’s leadership books: Women Reaching Women: Beginning and Building a Growing Women’s Ministry, Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, and Women Reaching Women in Crisis. Prior to her employment at LifeWay, she was the special ministries coordinator at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas overseeing women’s ministry and missions education. When Chris is not consulting, speaking to women, or training women’s ministry leaders, you can find her reading, with family, or spending time at the beach. She married Pat in 1971, and they have twin daughters, two sons-in-law, seven grandchildren, seven bonus grands, one great grand, and a seven-pound Yorkie named Mo.