A few weeks ago, I shared the first in a series on Women’s Ministry & Leadership and what God has taught me on this journey. I left you with a scenario that looked as though it was right out of the pages of a women’s ministry handbook — but in retrospect, it was the turning point for how God began to get this “church girl’s” attention. At this point, the direction of the ministry was just wishful thinking on my part. As a “people-pleaser”, and one who wants everyone to get along, up to this point as a leader, I had a natural tendency to avoid conflict. Which is true of most people-pleasing leadership personalities. Am I right?! As a people-pleaser, what I didn’t understand at the time, was how to navigate strong personalities and an environment that cultivated open, honest communication, and healthy accountability. And I can pinpoint the “red flags” that I ignored, out of the need to feel like I was a team player, and didn’t want to come across as bossy, because Lord knows some women just don’t like to be bossed … or led. Am I speaking some truth ladies? If I had followed God’s prompting with regard to these red flags, I have no doubt that I would have avoided the relational issues that cropped up over time.
Suffice it to say, that after having led in women’s ministry for over 10 years, circumstances changed, and I found myself in a place of feeling blindsided by conflict, and the ministry undermined. One of the most difficult things I have ever done was step out of the place of leadership, as I felt the environment was not a healthy one in which to remain. The one thing I clearly remember telling my team, was that this was not my ministry — it was God’s ministry — and the future of the ministry belonged to Him.
Some practical things I wish I had understood better: Healthy relationships are vital to effective leadership. In her book “Leadership Essentials for Women”, author Linda Clark says this: “Relationship means “the ability to relate”, to have mutual exchanges. It implies giving and receiving, initiative and respectful distance, mutuality and cooperation. Relationsip has to do with “one-anothering”. Clark continues: “Relationships do not always develop in healthy and mutually satisfying directions. When pain, fear, or distrust dominate, the relationship needs to be evaluated and corrective measures implemented.” She lists some behaviors to watch for that can hinder healthy relationships of a leadership team: “unethical, illegal, manipulative, self-serving, malicious, turf-protecting, misuse of power, apathetic, retaliatory, toxic, etc.”
So, what did I discover after all this? I discovered that letting go of what has entangled us, frees us to be who God has destined us to be. To run His race. I began the journey to what I began to call “the place of something else.” I discovered God’s peace, His presence, and His protection. “All these many people who have had faith in God are around us like a cloud. Let us put every thing out of our lives that keeps us from doing what we should. Let us keep running in the race that God has planned for us. Let us keep looking to Jesus. Our faith comes from Him and He is the One Who makes it perfect.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLV)