I stood with my eyes open during praise and worship and watched everything going on around me. I should have been focused on God and singing with joy, but my mind was distracted by the women around me. They were hugging on each other, prophesying over each other, and down on the floor in tears together. And I was standing there, alone, with really no desire to be doing any of those things at that moment.
Which is a problem since I am the Ladies Ministry Leader at my church.
Four years ago, when my children were entering high school, I sought the Lord about what I was going to do when they were out of my nest. One of the things He directed me to do was to attend Proverbs 31 Ministries “She Speaks” conference. At that conference, I learned the steps I needed to take to have a speaking ministry. For the past six years, I have spoken and taught at my church, but I felt like God was calling me to move outside the walls of my church and speak in front of more groups of women.
I remember the moment as if it were yesterday. I was at a prayer meeting at my church. For many years I went to a Friday morning prayer meeting, dragging along my homeschooling kids with their backpacks full of workbooks. And now the children were entering high school. I looked at them, and me, and them, and me, wondering what “me” would look like after “them.” What would I do when they left home?
God spoke to me three things, and like a good little type A personality, I made a list:
1) Become a trained Precept Inductive Bible study teacher
2) Attend “She Speaks,” the Proverbs 31 Ministries conference for speakers, leaders, and writers; and
3) Learn Spanish.
You see her every Sunday. She comes rushing in, perhaps a little late, and finds her seat near the front row of the church. Her arms are weighed down with stuff: her purse, her Bible and perhaps a diaper bag. She plops her belongings down on the floor and takes a seat, and looks around to smile at everyone. You imagine how wonderful her life must be, to be the wife of the pastor. You make eye contact with her, smile, and nod your head.
Then perhaps your mind wanders a bit. Why wasn’t she at the last women’s outreach? Why is her kid running wild through the sanctuary? Why didn’t she reply to your last email? Isn’t her skirt a little too short for a Sunday morning? Why did she have dinner in a pub and post the picture on Facebook? It’s easy to find a lot of ways to tear her down. She is a pastor’s wife, after all, and you hold her to a very high standard.
Friends, she’s a woman, just like you, with insecurities, worries, wounds and fears. Like you, she has a dishes to wash, bills to pay, kids to shuttle, and calls to return. She also carries the burden of the church along with her husband. She often has dinner alone. This woman needs help and support, not judgment and isolation. You can be the source of help and support. Yes, you.
I was minding my own business, sitting in my Bible study chair and reading through my journal. God and I were talking about my leadership of my churches ladies’ ministry. I fiercely love the women that I lead, but I struggle with the confrontation that is involved with leadership. I’ve been growing as a leader in this area, but working through conflict is still extremely hard for my sensitive tender-hearted self.
I was reading back through my journal and seeing where God had sent people to encourage me in my leadership journey. I was reading the kind and sweet things they had said when I suddenly burst out in tears. A deep, agonizing prayer came from within me: “GOD, I CAN’T DO THIS WITHOUT YOU.”