Guest blogger Shugie Collingsworth led breakout sessions at our 2013 Women’s Leadership Forum. Here is a brief view of what she shared about how leaders can face the storms of life to walk and serve faithfully no matter what. Perhaps you will join us in November for the Women’s Forum.
Life is made up of sunny days and stormy ones. Just as the storms of the weather are varied – rain, ice, snow, tornado, hurricane, etc.; the storms of life are varied too – job loss, health crises, betrayal, prodigal children, divorce, and on and on we could go. They are unpredictable and oftentimes unavoidable even for leaders; worst of all they sometimes seem unfair and unreasonable. This is just part of life and you are wasting time whining, “why me… why me?” There’s no way you can arrange (aka control) your life to have all sunny days — it’s not possible!
“To everything there is a season … a time to laugh and a time to cry; a time to find and a time to lose….” Eccl. 3:1
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
No one expects you to smile your way through a storm; the feelings of sadness, grief, anger and fear are normal. God’s word acknowledges our feelings but offers solution and comfort in the midst of them.
“But when I am afraid, I will put my confidence in you. Yes, I will trust the promises of God…You have seen me tossing and turning through the night….” Psalm 56:3,8
It is our choice whether we will take our terrified, disappointed, angry, hurt hearts to him and allow him to bring peace.
Many would admit that the greatest times of growth in character come through difficulties. So there usually is some good that can result from something that is terribly bad. And part of that good can be a testimony to the women you serve in your church.
Storms prepare us for service and offer us God’s peace:
“…God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Cor. 1:4
A good friend of mine went through some horrific circumstances years ago. She chose to believe God and rely on him to be her comfort and provision. She maintained a peace that was unexplainable except for the presence and power of Jesus who lived in and through her. She became a reflection of Jesus to many who were watching. And guess what? She comforted others with the comfort she received from God and many came to know him and his peace because of her storm and her story.
God will hear and help us when we seek him. He will not take our burdens from us, but if we give them to him, he will carry them.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and will heal their land.” 2 Chron. 7:14
“Give your burdens to the Lord. He will carry them. He will not permit the godly to slip or fall….” Psalm 55:22
So, how will you respond in your storms? Will you become bitter or will you choose to give up control and depend on God, trusting in his sovereignty? Will you model faith in the storm for the women you lead?
“I want you to trust me in your times of trouble, so I can rescue you, and you can give me glory.” Psalm 50:15
I will share a secret I have learned, only recently: Contentment is found in choosing an attitude of gratitude. Pause and ask yourself, “what can I be grateful for?”
You will never see or experience God’s provisions until you choose to align yourself with him and the truths of his word. He can and will provide help, strength, life, rescue, defense, protection, success, etc. So what will you choose?
“Oh God, have pity, for I am trusting you! I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until this storm is past. I will cry to the God of heaven who does such wonders for me. He will send down help from heaven to save, because of his love and his faithfulness.” Psalm 57:1-3
“My God is changeless in his love for me and he will come and help me.” Psalm 59:10
The storms — they are a-coming! Will you submit to God and receive his help and peace? He may not remove you from your storm but he will walk with you through it and he will guide you and meet your needs all along the way.
Shugie Collingsworth is a native of Newnan, Georgia, but has spent her adult life all over the South, serving in various ministry capacities. She has a unique ability to blend life stories with biblical truth and her distinctive flavor of straight-talk Southern humor. With a speaking and teaching career spanning three decades, she has spoken to thousands on marriage, parenting and women’s issues. She is the wife of JB Collingsworth, associate pastor of Dogwood Church in Peachtree City, GA and she is mother to two sons and one daughter, all in ministry. You can find her blog at shugiecollingsworth.com, or you can connect with her on Twitter @ShugieC.