As a women’s leader, do you ever reflect on the core values upon which you have developed the ministry? Read guest blogger Stephanie Edge’s thoughts about Union University’s core values and see how she relates those to women’s ministry. Perhaps you need to re-think your ministry’s core values as well, or at least bring them out in view of those you lead. It will help you focus all you do in ministry so that it reflects those values you believe are essential.
On December 4, 2013, students, faculty, and staff members gathered in the chapel at Union University for “A Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving for God’s blessing of David and Lanese Dockery.” Dr. David S. Dockery was unanimously elected as the 15th President of Union. Earlier this year, he announced his retirement upon the completion of 18 years of service (1996-2014).
I joined the faculty of Union in the fall of 1996. Since then, I have been able to both watch and follow Dr. Dockery’s leadership. His leadership began with the adoption of four core values that have continued to guide his decisions and to set the direction of the university. Through the years, many references have been made to these core values, reminders were printed on publications and displayed in faculty offices, and banners citing these values hung across the campus.
At the recognition and celebration of Dr. Dockery’s tenure, these core values were at the forefront once again: Excellence-Driven, Christ-Centered, People-Focused, and Future-Directed. In fact, these values were used to describe Dockery himself. As a women’s ministry leader, I could not help but think of the application of these values to ministry within the context of a local church.
Excellence-Driven: Women’s ministry should be excellence-driven. 2 Corinthians 9:8 states, “And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.” We should do ministry to the best of our abilities for an audience of one. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Col. 3:23, NIV)
Christ-Centered: Women’s ministry should be Christ-centered. Jesus Christ Himself is the cornerstone and the very foundation upon which we believe and why we are in ministry. (Acts 4:11) He is to be central to all we do in women’s ministry. We are to seek Him and His kingdom purposes. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness …” (Matt. 6:33)
People-Focused: Women’s ministry should be people-focused. God valued people so much that He sent His one and only Son to die so that men and women could have a relationship with Him. (Jn. 3:16) Believers, in turn, are commissioned to share the good news of the gospel with all people. (Matt. 28:19-20) Ministry is about people and the Bible is clear on how we are to treat and interact with others. “Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love you neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.” (James 2:8) Philippians 2:3-4 states, “… in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Women are important to God and should be the focus of women’s ministry.
Future-Directed: Women’s ministry should be future-directed. It is rewarding to remember and celebrate past ministry successes. However, we must continually look toward the future and what God has in store for the coming days. Likewise, we can become overly burdened by previous failures. Paul encourages us to forget what lies behind and to press on. (Phil. 3:13-15) We are to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-3) and to fix our eyes on what is unseen, that which is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-18) Our future is bright and our future home eternal.
As I was challenged to reflect upon the core values of Union University under the leadership of Dr. Dockery, I encourage you to consider your women’s ministry in light of these cores values. Is your women’s ministry Excellence-Driven? Christ-Centered? People-Focused? Future-Directed? What are the core values that are driving your ministry? Are these values aligned with the biblical principles found in God’s Word?
Stephanie Edge is the Director of Women’s Ministry, Poplar Heights Baptist Church, Jackson, TN and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity. Stephanie also completed a Masters of Theology and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Stephanie currently is an Associate Professor at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee and an Adjunct Instructor of Women’s Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She has a passion for God’s Word and ministering to women.