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 leadership Q & A, we’re featuring Brenda Croston. Brenda is a new LifeWay Women’s trainer, so later this fall, look for cities where she will be teaching. I’m excited for you to know her.
Who has been most influential in your ministry leadership and how did they influence you?
My answer to who has most influenced my ministry leadership might be unconventional and familiar, all at the same time. Why? The influencer has no name! At least that’s the way my mind replays our encounter. The story might be better if I met her at seminary, or as a youth leader, or through a long-term connection with me or my family, but she was the distant cousin of an acquaintance. So how is it that No Name landed at the top of my most influential list? Well…I overheard her talking to a friend about her personal Bible study time. The way No Name spoke about 2 Corinthians 5 left me panting like a deer desperately seeking refreshing from a cool riverbank. She used phrases like, “His Word reached into my soul…dried my tears…empowered me to make it through the day.”
Looking back, I am reminded of my former principal’s words to the teaching staff, “You can lead your students to the fountain of knowledge, but you can’t make them drink! However, your teaching should make them so thirsty that they willingly dive headfirst into the fountain!” That day in a place I had never been before with a crowd I had never seen before and would never see again, I was made thirsty by a no-name woman for my own soul-reaching, tear-drying, empowering experience with God’s Word. And it wasn’t long before I found myself diving headfirst into the Bible.
All this leads to another question. What does No Name and her love of all things biblical have to do with my ministry leadership? Two things: the love of God’s Word and the application of its truths to my life empowers me to lead with the heart of God at the forefront of all I do. Second, I can’t make anyone drink of the Savior’s love, but I can show lost souls to Christ by leading like I am loved! Like I said earlier, the story is unconventional in that the details that might be thought of as pertinent are unknown, but familiar, all at the same time because most leaders know that God’s Word must be at the heart of leadership.
How do you practically spend time with the Lord each day? What is your normal practice?
The wording of the first question is so appropriate. It accurately describes my quiet time with the Lord—practical! Because my daily schedule is not routine, finding practical ways to enjoy my quiet time with God could look different on any given day. There are some constants though: early mornings, Scripture, dialogue with self and God, pen, paper and/or a technological device. Those are the constants, but the day to day manifestation of how and which of those things will be included in my personal time vary.
Depending on where I am—on the road or at home—my time with the Lord may find me bedside, kneeling in prayer, crying tears of gratitude over my journal, followed by Scripture reading and written expression of what I feel God has spoken. Some days, it’s me, God, my best set of earphones, and my favorite Bible teacher exegeting the Scriptures via YouTube while I jog along my neighborhood streets. I love those times! God seems to speak loudest against the backdrop of His creation. Sometimes, I am compelled to halt my run and hurriedly jot down all that He says or hop onto one of my social media accounts and share a live video. Then there is my traditional, feet up, soft blanket, devotion, and favorite note-taking Bible in hand time with the Lord. This happens when I have an hour or two in the morning before the rest of the family stirs.
Whatever way God and I spend time together suits me just fine, as long as He shows up!
What is your best piece of leadership advice to another women’s ministry leader?
Dear Women’s Ministry Leader, first things first: please lead yourself well before leading others! Second, the vision God has given you will bear the most fruit when you enlist a team to help carry it out. Trust me on this one!
What is your current leadership struggle?
My husband, Mark, and I joined our church two years ago. In many ways, we are still new members. The church has a long, rich history, and most of its members have developed bonds with one another and are fiercely committed to the preservation of their way. Mark and I have yet to scratch the surface of the church and people history, but we are both in leadership positions. While some aspects of this dynamic can be described as the norms of acclimating to a new church environment, others are real struggles. Time being one.
For some of the women I lead, not enough time has passed for them to grant me what I call the 3F Access Pass. For them to trust me, they must know I am faithful, friendly, and fruitful. That is to say, I will serve them in good times and bad, labor along side them and not haughtily hover above, and that all we do as a ministry will be beneficial. I am patiently waiting to receive the 3F. In the meantime, I am following John 9:4, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
What “new” thing are you trying this year that is requiring faith?
There a few new things on my 2019 agenda that require faith, but I will be obedient to your request and only share one. I am returning to school, and not as a teacher this time. Like all good Christians who feel God asking them to do something they don’t want to do, I gave God a myriad of reasons why I shouldn’t return to the classroom. He used my husband to impart a bit of wisdom, “The larger your ministry circle grows the deeper your preparation needs to be.” Still, I protested with, “I can learn and prepare without the constraints of grades, deadlines, and 20-page papers!” When I heard myself say those things, I knew fear was the real reason for my hesitation.
No more protest or living in fear! I am acting in faith realizing that the outcome is not mine to craft or create, therefore, I shouldn’t worry. Following God’s directive can only lead me to the safest place in the world—the center of His Will.
Pray for me!
Brenda Croston, a former educator in the public school system, serves as the Women’s Ministry leader at Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, TN and is the founder of Simple Truth Publishing. She is on the cusp of releasing her first book, The Strange Language of Ducks: A Biographical Journey Through the Female Experience. Brenda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and a Master of Education, both from Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Blessed to have met and married the love of her life, Mark, they have the pleasure of parenting four children with the added bonus of two granddaughters, London and Phenix. On a lazy day, you can find Brenda wrapped in a fuzzy blanket feeling grateful for every aspect of the life God has allowed her to live.