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 Lesley Hildreth. Lesley is a new LifeWay Women trainer, and we’re excited for her to join us in the coming year at You Lead events.
Who has been most influential in your ministry leadership and how did they influence you?
I have been involved in ministry for the past 27 years, and there have been many men and women who have influenced me. However, I believe the most influential person has been my husband. I think this is the case for two reasons: First, I have had a front row seat to his leadership. Second, he has been my biggest supporter. He has always encouraged me to lead and minister when and where God has given me opportunities and a specific calling. As I have watched him lead, I have learned to listen to people, connect them to others, as well as resourcing and championing them to use their gifts and influences to participate in God’s mission. I have also learned the importance of being honest and being willing to have hard but loving conversations that, though they may be uncomfortable, help others become more like Christ. God has called leaders to use our influence to change lives, and I believe that has been something my husband has done consistently as he has developed many women and men as leaders. I also believe that the reason he has been able to do this so successfully is because he truly believes that it takes others to accomplish God’s mission, and in order to do that we must maximize every leadership resource we have for the mission of Jesus.
How do you practically spend time with the Lord each day? What is your normal practice?
I really cannot say that I have a “normal” practice. Through the years and in different seasons of life, I have used different routines and resources for my time with the Lord. I also apply different spiritual disciplines in different ways. For example, I spend time reading and meditating on Scripture each day. One day I may spend more time in a passage that would include journaling what I learned about who God is and what I learned about who I am in light of that. I follow this by journaling how I need to apply what I learned and what kind of response is necessary. On another day, I may read a passage and then periodically meditate on a verse or two from the passage throughout that day. I also always include a time of prayer. My prayer time can be in response to what I read in the Scriptures and/or it could be specific things I am praying on behalf of family, friends, and missionaries around the world. I also like to periodically use the prayer outline ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). In addition to this time of prayer, I typically pray throughout my day as the Lord brings things to my mind. I pray for others, for circumstances and opportunities, and even for myself.
What is your best piece of leadership advice to another women’s ministry leader?
My advice to a ministry leader is always the same: you cannot do your job without God or His people. This means you must rely on and spend time with Him daily and champion other women to use their gifts for the benefit of His church and kingdom purposes.
It is too easy to get distracted by all of the things vying to pull us away from the calling and mission God has placed on our lives. However, as we lead out of a dependence on God and His Word, we can stay focused and keep our eyes on Jesus. I love what my friend Kathy Litton said recently in a podcast with the ERLC, “Advance the gospel; the hope is that lives can be changed. This should drive us. Don’t lose sight of this!” God’s mission should be our mission, and we need Him and His people to accomplish it.
What is your current leadership struggle?
I am currently responsible for the discipleship of over 6,000 women who are spread out among ten different locations of The Summit Church. I do this through a team of ten coordinators, each of whom lead teams of about ten women. Only one of these coordinators receives a salary for her role. This means I am responsible for leading a large team of volunteers with an enormous task. My leadership struggle is mostly felt in developing ten women who have full-time and part-time jobs and families who lead ten unique campuses. The women serving in these roles started serving at different times so each one has different developmental needs.
What “new” thing are you trying this year that is requiring faith?
One new area of ministry that I am engaging in this year is writing. I have been learning to write for others through blogging, but this year I will be working with a team of women on a book about women’s discipleship. The idea of writing something more permanent is something that is pushing me outside of my comfort zone. I am excited about the opportunity to influence others through this medium, but it is requiring me to trust the Lord for wisdom and skill.
Lesley Hildreth is the Women’s Discipleship Director for The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina. She is responsible for the discipleship of over 6,000 women spread over ten campuses and spends the majority of her time developing and equipping leaders who share the task of making disciples. Before this role, Lesley was the Assistant Director of Women’s Life at Southeastern Seminary where she received her MA in Christian Studies. She also served eight years with her family with the International Mission Board in Western Europe and Central Asia. She has a passion to see all women participating in God’s mission, using their gifts to serve the church, further His kingdom, and bring God glory. She is married and has two adult children and one grandson.