Thanksgiving Week!

tyday

Women’s Ministry Council is spending this week with our families in preparation and celebration of Thanksgiving Day.

When we return on Monday…

We’ll begin with our recap of the WMC “Rest & Retreat” event.

There will be a special give away of Letitia Suk’s book “Getaway with God” from Kregel Publications.

Then, we will finish out the year with our series on Characteristics of Godly Leaders.

Enjoy this time with your families.

❤ WMC

Characteristics of Godly Leaders: REPROACH

reproach1

What does it mean to be above reproach?  For the longest time, I thought that it meant that leaders were in an untouchable space.  To be a leader meant that you were not to be criticized at all.  I interpreted the wording akin to “above the law”.  People who think they are above the law do not believe they are held accountable for their actions and decisions.

Over the years, I have learned that I was not alone in that interpretation.  In fact, quite a few people understand it to mean the same.

Several years ago, I had an opportunity to take a college class on Christian leadership that broke down these requirements, in 1 Timothy 3, for the Office of the Overseer.  The way it was explained to me was that being above reproach was not suggesting that we as leaders were part of an untouchable group.  Instead, it meant that our behavior should be such that there would be no need for reproach.  In other words, that our integrity and reputation should hold weight against any accusations thrown our way.  So that, anyone who hears them would dismiss them immediately.

We all know that is impossible for even the best leaders to live perfectly, we are all human and humans make mistakes.  But when our character’s good attributes weigh so heavy, our mistakes are accepted as such versus a character flaw.

If you are a person who always keeps your promises, and you slip up and forget once… you are going to receive grace over that mistake because it is the exception and not the norm.

In an ideal world, being above reproach should be enough.  But not always.  The key here is that if you are accused by one person, the majority of people will disregard it because they know you to be a leader of integrity.  Part of that integrity is owning up to your mistakes before you need to be called out on them, and making them right before you are asked to.

If you have made an error that requires rebuke or correction, if you have behaved in a way that is met with disapproval, or speak in a manner that is disappointing… and you deal with it head on, accepting responsibility, correcting your course, or making amends; you are behaving in a manner that is above reproach.  Rarely are people disappointed and disapproving of a leader who admits when they are wrong, and moves forward in a spirit of reconciliation or correction.  In fact, it often adds to your character.

To be above reproach means that you take your role seriously, and you understand the gravity of the position you have been trusted with.  You lead with integrity and honesty.

 

What in the Word does it say about Friendships? {Sheila Thomas}

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Friendships. Are you satisfied with yours? It has been my experience while working in women’s ministries, that a lot of women seem very unhappy in their friendships.

If I asked you with whom do you like to hang out, what would be your answer? Who are your best friends? What do you like to do with them? What do you like about that person? What does your friendship with that person do for YOU? Or better yet, what is the friendship doing for HER? Are you benefiting from each other?

Do you have friends to hang out with and just be yourself? Can you just laugh and speak your mind? Or are you guarded, appearing shallow and afraid to share your thoughts?

Do you shy away from large groups of women? Or do you like to “hide” in a large group of women because you’re afraid to be in a one-on-one friendship? Are you afraid of being real? Do you think that if your friends really know you, they won’t want to be friends with you?

Do you long to have better friendships? Are your friendships real or are they shallow and “surface-y”? (Hmmmm…That IS a word, right?! Oh well. You’ll have to understand that I’m good at making up my own words. Ha!)

How can we have good friendships with other women? Does the Word of God talk about this?

When thinking about what to write for my next article, I began to feel directed to the topic of friendships among women.

Friendships are a very important part of our life. Some are casual, some close, and still others more intimate. We all long to have at least one friend with whom we can be real.

George Eliot wrote:

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

I love that quote. Mr. Eliot knew what he was talking about.

First let me tell you a little about myself. Growing up, I had close friends for seasons in my life. My father was a preacher, so I lived in four different towns growing up. I would develop good friendships with a few girls in most of those places, but then after moving away, most of those friendships would dwindle away and new ones would develop.

Then in High School I became friends with a girl who has remained my best friend for all these years. We have had a special relationship that has developed more and more special.

We both had three children each, who were close in age to each other. For many years, we lived in the same town and went to the same church. We shared so much together. For years, we had one day a week in which we would go shopping, take craft classes together, and go to lunch. We made this a priority – we made sure that unless our children were sick or our husband off work, we did it.

We no longer live close to each other, but we still make the effort to be together as often as possible. We schedule visits to each others homes. We schedule long phone chats. We text back and forth. We are really and truly more like sisters. She is the sister I never had. I thank God for her!

Because of this relationship, people have asked us how did it happen, saying how unusual it is and how blessed we are. It began to sink in to both of us how truly rare it is. It gave me pause for thought. Hmmm…how DID it happen?

So let me share with you a little of what I know about good friendships, how to acquire and maintain them and be a great friend yourself.

Some women have said that they can’t seem to get a friendship like that. They say that women aren’t that friendly to them. Or if they thought they were getting a close friend, invariably the friend would suddenly distance themselves, or break a trust, or shut them out of the “circle”, or move away.

Some women have been so hurt by their friends, that they argue repeatedly with this little voice that says, “Don’t build new friendships – life has a demolition crew around every corner!”

But we can’t be that way. We have to be brave, vulnerable and trust again. Real friendship is resilient, being made strong by commitment, creativity, caring and sharing.

I believe that in order to have a friend, we have to make ourselves friendly. We can’t sit over on the sidelines watching and hoping that someone will come over and become our best friend. Why would anyone want to establish a relationship with someone who looks dejected, bored, and having a major “pity party”? We have to make the first step.

Then we have to realize that not everyone we try to establish a friendship with is going to “click”. So we must remember to not take things personally and get our feelings hurt, but get up and move on to another one. Certainly life’s experiences, chemistry, etc., go into making close friendships. And usually close friendships are not developed over night. They grow in time.

In order for this to happen, you must choose to spend time together. Go shopping, take a craft class, or go out to eat together. Find out what interests you have in common.

In getting to know this person better, most likely there will come a time in which you may become irritated or hurt by something they say or do. In this, you must be forgiving. See their heart. Think the best of them. Learn to let go of hurts. Be powerful, not pitiful.

There are 7 things from Proverbs 3 and 4 I believe will make us the friend we need to be. If we attain these 7 things, then we will attract great friends.

For illustration purposes, I’m going to call them by name as if they were friends. Let me introduce you to them.

  1. Lady Love – She shows love to all her other lady friends, always thinking of them, not always thinking of herself and what someone did to her.

  1. Lady Loyalty –She is always loyal to others, never breaking their trust. She keeps a closed mouth when told things in confidence! This is a “biggy”!

  1. & 4. Lady Wisdom and Madame Insight – They go hand in hand together. Proverbs 3 says that friendship with them is worth far more than money in the bank, better than a big salary, and nothing you could wish for holds a candle to them. They offer long life, their manner is beautiful, their lives wonderfully complete. Who wouldn’t want them for a friend?

  1. Madame Understanding – Of course, we get this from God. In Proverbs 4, it says that understanding will make our life glorious, she will garland our life with grace, make our days beautiful, and add years to our life. Who would not want to be friends with her?

  1. & 7. Lady Clear Thinking and Madame Common Sense – They also go hand in hand. Proverbs 3 also says that they will keep your soul (mind, will and emotions) alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive, you’ll have safety, sleep well at night, have no need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, because God will be right there with you if these ladies are with you!

One added bit of advice from Proverbs 4:23 – 24: “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.”

Ultimately, God is the best friend we can have and best example of a friend. He is always there for us, never fails us, always loves us, and always does good things for us. Earthly friends may fail us, but He never does!

If we concentrate on being the kind of friend we wish we had, then we’ll attract those kinds of friendships. And when life brings on changes in those friends’ lives, we need to “go with the flow” and be understanding. If we will refrain from concentrating on “our hurt”, whining about how they are treating us, be kind and loving and overlook their faults, be there for them when they want us and need us, the friendship will thrive!

Take the risk! Get out of your comfort zone. Open up with other women. Also be a good listener. Friendships go both ways. Remember to not make the friendship only about yourself. Take down the walls. You may be pleasantly surprised. It’s worth it.

The Miracle of Friendship

(Author Unknown)

There’s a miracle called friendship

That dwells within the heart,

And you don’t know how it happens

Or how it gets its start…

But the happiness it brings you

Always gives a special lift,

And you realize that friendship

Is God’s most precious gift!

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Leading Well Starts With My Character

Screenshot-2017-11-6 InstagramWhat does it mean to be a leader?  If leadership is directly related to our character, then we can begin to dig through the Word and learn what God has to say about leadership characteristics.

We are going to begin to explore those characteristics over the rest of 2017.  That seems HUGE but remember, 2017 is almost over.  Plus, we will still have our regular contributors Jenny Andrews and Aimee Nelson providing leadership devotionals.  Sheila Thomas and Trish Jones will also continue to contribute to our teaching from the Word.  Make sure to like our page on Facebook so that you can keep track of new posts.

Trailblazing {Devotion by Jenny Andrews}

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I became the director of a mentoring ministry in my local church at the age of 28. To say that I was scared would be an understatement. I don’t know how many times I questioned God and His calling in my life at that moment. I thought to myself, often, surely this is a mistake.  Who am I to lead in this area?  But, the Lord knew just what to do with me. He gave me the strength and courage to persevere through the unknown many times.

I didn’t grow up in the church or how to start a ministry. I started to read books and educate myself on ministry; meanwhile I was in college going to school for a degree in accounting. It then hit me one day that I could use the tools I was learning in my business school to apply them to my new ministry. I became organized and started to see the tools the Lord was giving me in the business world as blessing for His kingdom. After 6 years in the ministry I had everything down pat. The ministry grew, and I am now teaching others how to start their own ministry in mentoring. What I also came to understand was that I was a trailblazer in this type of ministry for my church.

The word trailblazer is defined as:

1.a person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness; pathfinder.

2.a pioneer in any field of endeavor:

Isn’t that what leadership is? We are all leading in new areas of our life whether in ministry, at home, in the work place, or other areas. We are all trailblazing in leadership. I think it is amazing that there are no two people alike in this world and that the Lord has a specific call on our individual lives.

Most recently I was speaking at a Native American Women’s Conference and I met a woman who said to me, “Jenny you are pioneer for your people the Lakota.” Her statement impacted me in a positive way and made me reflect on all the Lord was doing in my life at that moment. He used her to remind me that He is the leader of my trailblaze and that He will be the one to set the path before me. I now trailblazing in a new area with a new season of calling in life, but I am embracing it thanks to that one sentence said to me.

We all get to be trailblazers. I know it comes with unchartered territory, but can I remind you that the Lord has already equipped you. I leave you with this passage in the Bible because it assures me that although this may be new area of leadership to you or me it isn’t to the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Introducing the LeadHer Conference!

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