Lauren Farmer_0435.JPGLauren Farmer, who serves as an Event Project Coordinator for LifeWay’s Women’s Training and Events, is our guest blogger today. Listen to one young woman share the importance of influence from older leaders to carry on the heritage of faith and leadership: 

"Leadership is a hot topic in many circles today.  Perhaps it has always been and I’ve just gotten old enough to really hear about it.  It does, however, seem like the topic of leadership in women’s ministry is becoming an increasingly popular topic.  As a young woman who has served in several different areas of leadership in the church and various ministries, I’m often asked by other young women how I ended up where I am, how they can have similar opportunities, and what advice I would give them based on their passions and giftings.  On the flip side, I also find myself being asked by “older” women (I purposely say “older” as I have become quite aware of the fact that age is a matter of perspective…  I learned last week from the small group of freshman girls I lead that I am “old.” Apparently, 27 is old when you’re 14. Ouch.)  These "older" women often express their desire to connect with younger women, invest in them, and pass on the torch of women’s ministry. Young or "old", it seems we are all looking for a way to connect with one another spiritually.

 I wish I had all the answers developing women into leaders and a neat formula to give you, but, of course, I don’t.   Instead, when I think of leadership, I see the faces of women I deeply respect and admire rather than concepts listed on the pages of a book.  There are many things I’ve learned in a classroom about leadership… I have a degree in women’s leadership from a seminary, after all.  While the concepts are absolutely essential and foundational in many regards, it’s the relationships with women who are leading me and others that continue to teach me how to lead. 

For instance, in one of my seminary classes we spent a lot of time discussing how to lead in a church or ministry when in many ways it is a “man’s world.”  As women our desire is to honor the unique and God-given roles of male and female and, yet, to also be faithful to use our gifts to forward God’s Kingdom.  And, although I learned a great deal in my class about how to navigate the waters of leading as a woman in man’s world, I’ve seen how to do so from the women who lead me.  It’s when my boss Faith gives me a quick tip on how to get a male co-worker to help me on a project that needed his immediate attention or watch my other boss Selma (we have a lot of bosses here at LifeWay if you haven’t noticed) facilitate a business team meeting composed of both males and females with skill, poise, ingenuity and femininity that I learn how to lead well. 

In my experience, leadership and relationship cannot be separated. They are two sides to the same coin.  With that in mind here a couple of things I’d encourage you to keep in mind as you seek to invest in and train up the next generation of women’s leaders:

·    Remember that leadership is both caught and taught.  By all means teach and train young women about the principles of leadership in formal settings, but never underestimate the power and influence of example… your example, that is.

·    Be intentional.  Seek to spend time with, talk to, and share your life with young women God puts in your path.

·    Share your successes and failures as a leader.  Younger women will have successes and failures as well.  It’s a comfort and encouragement to know that you’ve been in their shoes.

·    Bring them along with you.  Many younger women are eager to know you, learn from you and imitate you.  Yes, imitate you.  I kid you not that I’ve thought on more than one occasion, “I want to be just like Faith (or Selma or Chris) when I grow up.”  I promise you there are women around you that are looking up to in the same way I look up to these women in my life."

Lauren is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary  in Louisville, Kentucky, where she received a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Leadership. During her time in Louisville, she served as associate director of student life and instructor of Christian Education at Boyce College , the undergraduate school of The Southern Seminary.  Lauren has a passion for reaching and equipping young women.

 

For more information on women’s ministry, check out the following resources:

Women Reaching Women

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Transformed Lives

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Women to Woman Mentoring

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Also make sure to check out past blogs dealing with Leading Younger Women and unique interviews of "What Young Women are Saying"

Comments

  1. Cara Wheeler says:

    Lauren, I could not agree more.
    When I was younger I always looked to older women for guidance. Even if I did not directly ask them for guidance, I watched their life and learned vicariously (good old Bandura). Some I did ask for guidance and it was not really what they had to say, but the process of interaction and building a relationship that impacted me. As a little girl I had my heroes, women who I looked up to and tried to fashion my life to imitate. Now that I am “older” and yes 30 is old too, I see younger girls who look up to me. (YIKES!!!! Jesus help me love them and lead them with my words and actions. ) I think something you said is so important, that a leader should share their struggles and difficulties with those who are watching. I don’t mean to say, let down all of your boundaries, but the truth is they need to know that you are touchable and human. You feel, you get disappointed, and life is not always roses. I try to be careful and I purposefully try to take myself off of the pedestal and distribute the power back to them. Additionally, I remember that all women are asking these questions: Am I enough? Am I beautiful? Am I acceptable? I try my hardest to give them a glimpse of the father’s love. I don’t always do the best job, but my heart is aimed at showing them that Jesus’s heart is for them and He is there. Finally, I make an effort to point out that “The only thing that is good in me is Jesus.” If they are looking at my life, the good that they see, is Him. He is the one on the pedestal.
    Thanks for letting me write freely and without structure…..
    Dr. Cara!

  2. Chris Adams says:

    I agree, Cara that Lauren hit it square on. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well to really show how important our authenticity as leaders is and how the influence in the lives of those we serve with is valuable when we do!

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