Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist, Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead, and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
I love listening to others describe what they wish they would have known “back in the day”—however long ago it might have been. When women ask me how long I’ve been in women’s ministry, I can trace my first steps back to leading a small group of college women through a 26-week Bible study. You read that right—26 weeks! I was 20 years old and definitely didn’t know a lot, but we still managed to spend time in God’s Word, have accountability, and develop community.
That was more than 35 years ago (which sounds CRAZY!), but I really have learned a thing or two since I started this journey of ministry to women—even if I didn’t know that’s what it was in those early years. All I knew is that the Lord gave me the opportunity to invest in others and I said yes. Maybe you have that same opportunity today or the Lord has opened the door for you to lead.
If so, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. My prayer is you’ll learn them more quickly than I did.
- Women don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That saying is an old cliché, but there is a powerful leadership truth packed into that phrase. You can have a seminary degree and all the credentials, but unless women know you care about their hurts, struggles, and celebrations, you’ll have a hard time developing trust and building authenticity with those you lead. This happens over time, but a good leader will listen to the needs of others, show compassion, and show tangible concern and care. Start conversations by hearing about others’ lives before giving instruction. Sometimes this means just showing up when they need you. Just remember compassion isn’t always convenient.
- Plant deeply and persevere through the good times and the bad. One of the most difficult decisions I made when moving to Nashville two years ago was not just leaving several family members behind, but leaving a local church body where my husband and I served for 29 years. We planted our lives deeply into the lives of others through years of ministry. Some years were easier than others, but because we persevered, we still feel very connected to those relationships. Even though our address is several states away, I will always feel connected to a place where we planted deep roots. As a leader, consider sticking it out, even during hard times. The results are worth it.
- When starting a ministry to women, always begin with getting women into God’s Word. When a new ministry leader asks me where to begin, I always start with Bible study. Getting women into God’s Word never gets old. When you gather women around a Bible, community blossoms and spiritual growth happens—not because you did it, but because the Word of God is living, active, and results in transformed lives.
- The intake of God’s Word is central, but the outward focus toward others goes hand in hand. In other words, don’t have a spiritual blockage. Just as blood must flow through your heart and body to keep you alive, there is a flow of intake and outtake where leaders help others go from learning to serving. Create opportunities for women to give of themselves and to see the needs of your community and your world.
- Character is more important than competency. As a young leader, I did everything I could to learn as much as possible. I wanted to be a competent leader. Yet the longer I live, it’s the leaders who have shown godly character that I want to emulate. Not only do I want to represent Christ in the way I live today, but I want to be a leader who finishes well.
- Learn from others. Recognize the mentors and leaders before you. Celebrate their accomplishments. Learn from them and don’t be afraid to ask for their advice. I have learned that asking questions from a seasoned leader is a lot more valuable than reading a book.
- Your success is not based on numbers, but on transformed lives. This took years for me to realize because I served in an environment that focused on numbers. Numbers meant success, but when certain leadership changed, I discovered the freedom on focusing on individuals first. I realized events and studies where women only saw the backs of heads were not as beneficial as small groups sitting in a circle and sharing life.
- Be ready to give it all away. If you’re beginning a ministry to women, you’ll want to consider women who can join you in the journey. Establish a team, but pray for opportunities to invest in the “next” leader. God may move you literally or figuratively, so develop leaders along the way.
Are you ready to lead well? Sign up for the ministry to women newsletter to get monthly content specifically for leaders here. Get training at events like YOU Lead around the country and Women’s Leadership Forum this November in Nashville, TN.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Women. She and her husband, Vic, have been married for more than 28 years and have enjoyed serving together in ministry both teaching in student ministry for 25 years and teaching young married adults. They have two young adult children, Conner and Courtney, and a son-in-law, Gaige. They enjoy kayaking, having people in their home, and cheering for the Oklahoma City Thunder. A good day includes mocha lattes, Mexican food, and shopping for bargains.
Want to read more from Kelly? You can purchase her new book, Ministry to Women, here!