Butterfly Sparks Designs

Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Woman Leader to Another

Hi friends,

Last week I taught a workshop on leadership challenges and opportunities for women in ministry at the pastor’s conference at my local church. I’ve had a lot of requests for my notes, so I thought I would break my talk into four parts and share with you.

Whether you are a woman in full time vocational ministry, or simply a woman in love with Jesus, you are called to leadership. His Holy Spirit puts a mark on you that attracts others, gives you supernatural authority, and demands your life become a witness to His love for you and others. Whether your role is one of position or relationship, you must learn to maximize your influence, help others overcome isolation and create momentum that will impart your core principles to those you lead.

Women have always had relational leadership roles, both in and out of the church. You might have heard the saying “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” One of our primary assignments (as a gender) is to raise the next generation of leaders. (I will share some more on this responsibility in the next post.)

Today, many women also have positional leadership roles. We can now be both mom and CEO. Wife and Pastor. Our call and impact are broader and greater than ever before. Some have vocational responsibilities within the church and many others have significant volunteer leadership responsibilities. This has placed us in a unique season with special challenges and opportunities. There aren’t a lot of examples of how to do this, nor a lot of role models who have gone before us.

My grandmother was a faithful woman called to serve in her local church. For 40 years, she and a few of her close girlfriends, taught kindergarten Sunday school every week at the Second Baptist Church. 40 years! Can you imagine? The last time I attended with her, I was in high school. She was still getting out the play dough and singing “This Little Light of Mine.”

I have a heritage of faithful service in the church. But my grandmother never would have dreamed of the role I hold now, nor would she have been given the opportunities that lay before me. If my potential influence in the kingdom is so greatly expanded, imagine what might lie ahead for our daughters? What is happening is not limited to the church. Your women are embracing new levels of responsibility and vision in ministry, in the marketplace, in their homes and in their relationships. We are partnering with other leaders (men included) to reach more people than ever before.

If you add vocational ministry as a part of your life, the complications are dramatically intensified. You can so easily fall into the trap of focusing on what you can’t do or what you don’t do well, rather than focusing on what you can do. Don’t allow what you can’t do, to steal the potential of what you can do. Focus on your privileges and authority. Embrace the places of influence that are before you. Commit yourself to become the best leader you can be. And begin by learning to lead yourself well.

How you lead yourself will in large part determine how you lead your family and then the women under your influence. Here are a few tips to ponder:

Go In and Come Out. You must prioritize a personal relationship with Jesus. When you are in ministry, it is so tempting to think that our service is the same thing as relationship. Your personal and your work life become very intertwined and the boundaries are blurred. Let’s face it – the work of the Kingdom is never done, so it’s unrealistic to think you are going to be able to do it all. You can’t give away or impart what you don’t have, so if you want your people to be full of grace and love, you are going to have to spend some time with the King. Your work can not replace the power of a personal, vital, fresh encounter with Jesus. Make an appointment with yourself and show up!

Rest. You are responsible for managing your private life in a way that brings refreshment. Don’t expect your work or ministry to provide you rest. We live in a time when there is great momentum on the work of God. Your vocational life is probably not going to become less demanding, but more. All of us are learning how to accomplish more with less – less resources, less time, less energy. When you step away from the vocational work, build your private life in such a way that you will be refreshed.

Just Say No.Next time we’ll really focus on the value of no and how it will help us, especially as we consider how to lead our families well!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thoughts on Molly

My very precious mother-in-love, Beth "Molly" Greenwood, went to her heavenly home on January 9Th of this year. You might remember that she has been ill for a couple of years. A rare and difficult to diagnose disease of the liver slowly stole her strength, her body, her plans for an active retirement, and her days of attending her grand children's most important events - but it never stole her faith. Its been almost a month since she quietly slipped away from us. I've been thinking about her a lot and every time I do, I am grateful for the incredible legacy she has deposited in each of us. (Click on the title of this post to see the slide show from her recent memorial service.)

I have this theory that when a person dies their "mantles" or "gifts" or maybe "special graces" fall to the ground, like when Elijah was swept up to heaven, but his mantle fell to the ground. Elisha picked it up and immediately activated it's power, thereby receiving a double anointing of Elijah's power.

Molly left a few mantles behind - ones that I believe her children and grand children are picking up. Here are a few that I can name...

1) Faithful to the end - Mark commented that his mom had an incredible ability to accept the difficulty of her circumstances and move on. Her faith kept growing to the end. The worse her physical condition the more her faith arose. She loved to listen to good worship and great preaching. She kept feasting on the Word. She used to have a beautiful voice. I can remember she and her sister singing hymns in perfect harmony. Although she could not sing in the end, her whole spirit was singing his praises all the time.

2) Grace in suffering - Surely Molly suffered - physically, emotionally and maybe even spiritually. She began experiencing neuropathy several years ago. As the pain progressed and the strength of her body deteriorated, she suffered much. For over a year, she has been completely bed ridden. Despite the mental wear of daily pain, she didn't complain and only seldom had a special request. Somehow she allowed the pain to tenderize her heart rather than harden it.

3) Pray without ceasing - I remember having a conversation with her about having a purpose in this life until her very last breath. She seemed to embrace this, daily lifting our family and others in prayer. Not just us - but everyone she met. The staff of the Carlyle were always on her heart too. She knew every single persons name, their history, their secret dreams and pains, and she loved them. When her body limited her capacity - she allowed her prayer life to take her places she'd never been.

4) Refuse bitterness - Molly never got bitter. She had a lot of reasons to be mad, angry and disappointed. She was barren as a young woman, lost her husband at a young age, had to work hard (sometimes two jobs) to support herself, and just when she was ready to enjoy the fruit of her work and enter retirement, her body began to fail. Dreams of volunteer service, long days of working in the yard, and time to follow after her grand kids quickly slipped away. In very typical Molly style, she choose to see the good rather than the bad.

5) Believe in adoption - Everything about Molly's life reflects a simple willingness to adopt another. She demonstrated this in lots of relationships - from the adoption of her own two children to her years of hard work at an adoption agency to how she adopted me into her family. She continued this same kind of love until the very end, even "adopting" some of those who served her - always being a mom to those in need.

6) Family is important -
"Born to be a Grammy", she said of herself one day. It's true! Her grandchildren were very important to her. They have lots of fun memories of outings with Grammy. She loved to make every visit an "event". They can tell you about the zoo, the pizza parlor, or the ball park. Bottom line - somehow she communicated they were special.

I'm contending for Molly's mantles, asking God for the favor of a double portion of each of her special graces for our family. I feel the weight of her "job well done" on each of us.