Rest & Retreat: A reflection & call to rest.

Rest & Retreat(1)

I stepped down from a ministry I had started and led in my church for over 6 years.  It was a privilege to lead in that capacity. However,  I realized that the ministry consumed much of my life.   When I stopped leading I didn’t anticipate how big of a gap I would find in my life now that I wasn’t making phone calls, networking, leading,  planning, and mentoring; all while being a wife, mother, and part time employee.  I hadn’t realized how much work it took to run this ministry. I just did it because it needed to be done.

This made me think about other things.  In the 6 years of leading this ministry I lost both of my parents, graduated from college, and started a speaking ministry.

I had chosen to step down from this ministry in order to pursue another calling, but I felt like the Lord wasn’t calling me into another ministry right away; but back to my first and most important ministry,  my husband, children and family.  I also felt He has been calling me into a time of healing from grief.  Grief is tough.  It has been 6 years since my father passed, 3 years since mom passed, and only 3 weeks since my step-father has passed.  In this time, I have asked God to give me rest and help me deal with the stuff that needs healing; grief being one of them.

I have been busy getting to know my husband again, and my children.  My oldest is a freshmen in high school who plays sports and has a more active social life than I do. I now ask myself how did I ever have time to lead a ministry because I seem to have no life right now. But, I am thankful because it is an amazing journey.

I am learning that as a leader you must take time away to rest.  A good leader knows that rest is important.  While I would like to say I am great at this,  I don’t always take the needed time.  I am learning to see that when God closes one door, He maybe telling me to rest for a moment because resting is good for me until He  is ready to open the next door.

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I am still doing mission work, speaking, and mentoring but not so much that I forget to rest and heal.  I am also praying through this next season of life that I am feeling called to.

I am thankful that the Lord stresses the importance to take time to rest in Him. In all of this healing and resting the Lord has and always will be faithful.  He is my complete rest.  The verse I leave you with is this:

Psalm 37:7a
Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…

Characteristics of Godly Leaders: Not a Lover of Money

The LoveofMoney

There are so many reasons why Paul would write to Timothy that those in the office of overseer should not be a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:3).

Some immediate thoughts that come to mind:

  • If you value money too much, you may put your day job or your desire for success above your ministry responsibilities.  
  • You may be tempted to use your position for financial gain.
  • Often the love of money accompanies pride.

In fact, later in 1 Timothy, chapter 6, Paul goes on to say:  “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (v10).  Warning that those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, ensnared by foolish and harmful desires, plunge into ruin and destruction.  He even says that the desire for money, the craving of it, has caused some to walk away from their faith.

However, I think there is another aspect of money we should consider, in regard to ministry.  Let’s face it, the majority of those who are serving in a ministry capacity are not doing so without some financial struggle in their own life.  This struggle also happens in the ministry field.  Who hasn’t dreamt of what a little extra money could mean to the ministry work that we do.  What if we had an extra $500 or more in the budget.  Oh the things we could do!

Therein lies the culprit… “with money” this is what “I” can do.   While it is true that money is a means to get things done, such as purchasing supplies or bringing in guest speakers; money is also a tool of man.  God doesn’t require money to do anything.   We can throw a lot of money at our ministry, polishing the rough edges, making it attractive to others, filling the seats at our tables to the brim.  But this is not the measure of success.

Spiritual growth is a measure of success.  Bringing women to Christ is a measure of success.  We create a ministry that serves in His name, we bring women to the Cross, and then watch as the Lord does a work in their life.  He creates something new, He molds and shapes, and none of that costs a single dollar.

A shoe string budget it not a bad thing, it actually requires us to lean on God and trust in His provision for our ministry.  It teaches us to be good stewards with the blessing we are given.  It also challenges us to be creative with the gifts, talents, and blessings the Lord has given each of us to be used in the ministry as we serve others.

How much does it cost to welcome others into your home?

Do we need a huge budget to pray with another women?

What is the expense to sit and walk through the scriptures with a new believer?

When we begin to believe that money will solve all of our ministry problems, open up more opportunities, or even that money will give us a better pathway to bring people to Christ… we begin to blur the lines and our love for money grows because we become dependent on it.

This doesn’t mean that God won’t bless us financially, as a ministry.  It’s a warning to not become dependent on it, to not allow it to become something that we crave.  We may receive it, but remember we are being given something that is already God’s and called to use it in a way that honors Him.

A godly leader will recognize who the blessing is from, and what it is for.  They will not compromise their faith, their family, their home, their values, their time, and their service in order to gain more money.

 

Characteristics of Godly Leaders: Not Quarrelsome

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1 Timothy 3:2-3, speaks about the qualifications of overseers.  What does this mean to us as ministry leaders?  In 1 Timothy 3:3, Paul addresses quarrelsomeness.

Can I be honest with you, I love to debate.   I actually enjoy it.  I’m one of those people who can have my beliefs/opinions challenged and find debate a great way to learn.  I’ve changed my mind, held firmer to my beliefs, or walked away at least with a better understanding of how other people view topics.

My love of conversation and debate, however, can often be misinterpreted as quarrelling.  I’ve been accused of being argumentative, divisive, confrontational, and angry/upset.  99.5% of the time, I’m not.  I’m actually enjoying the process.  Over time, I have had to learn that how others perceive me is worth consideration.  I’m learning to temper my love of a good debate in order to protect relationships (personal and professional) and to make sure that my integrity is not questionable.

Now, after sharing that my intentions were not intended to be quarrelsome but often perceived that way… imagine what others think of you when you are intentionally quarrelsome.

Do you know that person?  The person who has some sort of a negative response no matter what you say or do.  Who argues about everything, can’t be agreeable; my mom would call them a “Contrary Mary”.  I remember once, as I finished assisting a gentleman, stating “Have a good day!”, and he curtly replied:

“Don’t tell me what kind of day to have!”

2 Timothy 2:24-26 reads:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.   (NIV)

There is so much in those words.  A quarrelsome person isn’t kind, they can’t teach because of arrogance, they are not patient, they don’t correct with gentleness but are often demanding, and they can be so caught up in being right/heard/followed that they are ensnared by pride… they end up doing more harm than good.

James 4:1 questions:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  (NIV)

The scripture in James is eye opening in that it puts the blame for quarreling not on the other person, but instead on ourselves.  It’s easy to justify our quarrelsome nature by trying to put all of the weight on another person.   But, an argumentative nature says more about who we are on the inside.  Matthew 12:34 tells us that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

If you find that you are constantly engaged in quarrels, arguments, controversies, and confrontations… as a Leader, it may benefit you to ask God to examine your heart and open your eyes to what your heart is full of.

 

Godly Characteristics: Gentle Not Violent

Gentleness

In 1 Timothy 3:2, it says that someone who is leadership should “not be violent but gentle”.  Gentleness is listed as one of the “Fruits of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23.  However, here in 1 Timothy 3:2 we are not merely instructed to be “gentle” but even more specifically “not violent”.  

If you research “violence” in the scriptures, there are some strong words against violence:

Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways ~ Proverbs 3:31

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.  ~ Psalm 11:5

In fact, if you go back to Galatians 5 and read the few lines before “Fruits of the Spirit” you will read about what is called “Works of the Flesh”.  

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21

Note that several of the items listed in 1 Timothy 3:2 are called “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5.  It is when we are not walking in God’s way, but in our own sinful humanness.  The violence in these scriptures is not what you see in war, when God has called warriors up as defenders of His people.  This is fleshy violence.  Vengeance, anger, hatred, malice.

I believe it is clear that the Lord calls his leaders to set a standard in how the treat one another, including our spouses and children.  In 1 Timothy 3, the leader is called to be a manager of his home, but not in a violent way… but respectful.  (1 Timothy 3:4 – He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect).  In clearer terms, the leader is not to be abusive… physically, mentally, emotionally.

Whether the leader is a man, or a woman.

Characteristics of Godly Leaders- Drunkeness

EatDrink& Be Merry_

Something that I have learned over the years is that when it comes to policies regarding drinking alcohol different denominations, regions, Pastors, and even congregants have strong & differing opinions on the subject.  There are some who believe there should be total abstention, others who believe the opposite, and then there the many opinions that fall between.  Occasionally.  Regularly, in moderation.  Certain types are ok, others are not.  It’s a pretty wide cavern to cross.

Today, instead of getting into the debate of if and when, let’s talk about why this matters.

Why Does Avoiding Drunkenness Matter?

Something worth noting is that drunkenness can directly affect all of the characteristics of godly leadership we’ve already covered, and the ones still to come.   If you are drunk, how can you be above reproach… if you can’t remember the events of the evening?  How many times have we heard of an affair or one night stand blamed on a night of heavy drinking?  What about losing our temper or losing self control due to being drunk?  How can we teach a good example or a lesson when were are intoxicated?  Domestic abuse has plenty of connection to being drunk, argumentativeness too.  Money has been wasted on a night out drinking, or keeping the cabinet stocked full.  A drunk is not respected by others, including their spouse and children.  A drunk will often have a bad reputation and may fall into disgrace often, blaming alcohol for their poor judgement.

In other words, if you are intoxicated to the point of drunkenness… how can you meet these standards of leadership?  Whether you stand the side of absolute abstinence or will allow for occasional or moderated consumption, we should all be able to agree that drunkenness isn’t good for anyone.  Leaders being held to higher standards, as we set the bar and expectation, even more so should avoid drunkenness.

Some will assert that the best way to avoid being drunk is to avoid consuming alcohol entirely, “lest we be tempted”.   Yet, Scripture will point to wine being consumed regularly and at special events/occasions.  Jesus made wine from water.  The Bible says that we simply shouldn’t drink too much, right?  The argument can go in circles.  However there are some things you need to consider, as a leader.

What Does Your Denomination/Church Say on the Topic?

If you are a leader in a denomination or church which believes in total abstinence, as a leader you are expected to adhere to that rule.  When you agree to step into leadership at a particular church, you are also agreeing to abide by their rules for leaders.  Some churches will have stricter rules than others.  It is important to know these rules for yourself, your team, and your events.

If the church policy is total abstinence of drinking, have you ensured that your team members understand this policy?  If the church is fine with your consumption of alcohol in your own home, but not in public spaces… perhaps a ladies trip to the local vineyard for a wine tour is not appropriate.   We can’t claim ignorance on the topic, it is our responsibility to ask the church leadership what is and isn’t acceptable. 

I remember sitting in on a meeting where it was shared that a group of women had brought a bottle of wine to share in their hotel room while at a weekend long retreat.  This was new territory because the women’s ministry leadership team had never even considered that anyone would bring a bottle of wine to a church function.  The debate ensued between it being in the privacy of their own room, they were not drunk, and only a limited number of people knew about it.  On the other side of the equation was the question of would allowing it encourage others to do it, could it become a larger problem?   This resulted in a decision to make sure that in all future events of this nature, it was clearly stated in the “what to pack and what not to pack” information that alcoholic beverages were not to be brought.

If it wasn’t allowed, then everyone in attendance’s behavior was beyond reproach.  The church was represented well, and it’s reputation was not potentially tarnished.  Now, as I coach ministry leaders, I bring this up when we discuss event planning.  We must as a ministry stand in agreement with our church policies, and the leadership sets the tone.  If it is something you disagree with, you must ask if you can accept their terms or not.  When we are acting under the umbrella of our church, we become the face of our church.  Whatever our actions reflect about us, as a person, are also cast onto our church.

* Take the time to read the scriptures and ask the Lord to reveal to you His truth on this topic.

* Speak to your Pastor(s) and Staff/Leadership to ensure your ministry policies reflect the views of the church.

 

 

WMC Is Seeking Leaders in Ft Pierce, Vero, and Palm Beach County!

WeWantYou

Our Treasure Coast group currently has women traveling up from Palm Beach County, down from Vero Beach.   We would love to start up groups in those areas, so that these leaders are connecting within their own communities and don’t have to drive so far.

If you are interested in spear heading a local group, please use the contact form and we’ll send you information.

  • It costs $0 to start a local group.
  • We will support you in getting it off the ground

What can you lose?

Characteristics of Godly Leadership: ABLE TO TEACH

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We’ve been examining the characteristics of an overseer listed by the apostle Paul in I Timothy 3:2 and applying them to spiritual leadership. Because I’m a Bible teacher, this next quality is especially dear to my heart: “able to teach.”

But even as many aspire to teach, the Bible gives us a stern warning. James wrote: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV).

Why would teachers incur a stricter judgment? Throughout His Word, God expressed His anger at false teachers and corrupt shepherds who led His people astray. He is protective of His people, and will judge those who leave His people hungry and unprotected.

Being a teacher, especially as a spiritual leader, means we have the ability and the opportunity to influence others for good or for bad. And when we teach in the name of Jesus, we must be careful that what we teach is consistent with the whole counsel of God’s Word.

So, in light of this warning, what does “able to teach” require? Let’s look at three areas:

Teachable

Before we consider Bible knowledge or relational skills, the spiritual leader who is able to teach must first be teachable.

A teachable teacher has a humble heart instead of an arrogant attitude.

Even though we’re 2,000 years removed from Jesus’ earthly ministry, she sits at His feet by spending time in His Word and being aware of the prompting of His Spirit.

She tackles her topic with a desire to learn before she prepares to teach the content.

Bible Knowledge

A spiritual leader isn’t a know-it-all about the Bible. But she is a student of God’s Word. She is “a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15 NIV).

She is a teacher who does not hijack a verse out of context. Instead, one who is able to teach studies the context of what she is teaching. What verses come before it? After it? Who was the original audience of that particular book of the Bible? Why did the writer write it?

One who is able to teach limits her teaching of the Bible to exegesis (drawing the meaning from the text and its context), and refuses to be drawn into eisegesis (teaching what she wants the passage to say rather than what it actually says).

A godly teacher will ensure that, as much as possible, she seeks to use the Bible to interpret itself. What she interprets a verse to mean in one place will never contradict what the Bible says elsewhere, for the Bible never contradicts itself.

Relational

One who is able to teach also treats her audience with respect. She doesn’t approach them as someone who has it all together or who has “arrived.” Rather, her perspective is that of a person traveling the same journey as those she is teaching.

A godly teacher knows her audience. Her vocabulary and illustrations will be consistent with the background of her listeners. The apostle Paul was a master of this. He said of himself, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (I Corinthians 9:22 NIV).

These are only a few of the characteristics of a godly spiritual leader who is “able to teach.” But they provide a good place to start!

Ava Pennington is an author, teacher, and speaker from the Treasure Coast of Florida.  You can read more of her work on her site: http://www.AvaWrites.com 

If you are looking for a great gift this season, consider Ava’s book:

Daily

Characteristics of a Godly Leader: Hospitable

Hospitality

I Timothy 3:2 speaks of another quality of a leader. Hospitality. It even says “…He must enjoy having guests in his home…” So you might say, “What? I have to enjoy having people over to my house? My house is not nice enough. It’s never clean. My kids and husband always have a mess going on. I can’t have people over. I don’t enjoy that at all!”

But let’s do a little thinking about this. If this is listed as a quality a leader should have, what can we do about this?

Did it say your house had to be clean and neat? No. Did it say you had to be perfect and have the most delicious meal prepared? No. Did it say you had to have the perfect children? No.

Okay. So let’s talk about the word, hospitality, first of all. Here’s the definition: “Hospitality: 1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. 2.the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.”

Are you friendly? Can you treat people nicely? Can you be generous? Surely you can.

Did it say anything about your home being perfect, looking like it came straight from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine? No. Did it say you had to have perfectly behaved children? No.

Can you invite someone over, open your front door, pour a cold glass of water for someone, and be warm and friendly? Most likely you can.

People are lonely and craving love and attention. They just want to know someone actually cares.

Now all that aside, let’s talk about your house. Those children. That husband.

The Word actually mentions everything being done properly and in order (I Cor. 14:40). Now it was not talking about our homes in this scripture, but if God thought it important enough to mention it regarding our church services, don’t you think He probably would love our homes to be orderly? I believe so.

When I first got married, I was still in college. My husband and I were busy with studying, working, trying to make a good start in life. I was so busy that I didn’t always put things away where they belonged. I thought I’d do it later. But I learned a hard lesson. If friends dropped by, it was a little embarrassing to have to clean off the sofa for them to have a place to sit.

Maybe I would be in a rush to make lunch, but would have to stop and wash a knife or pan before I could prepare lunch. Why? I had not done the dishes since our last meal. Oh, yes, I had the excuse that I had been in class all morning. Or I had worked all afternoon.

But I soon learned that “Do it Now!” was a good motto. Put that thing where it belongs now, not later. Do those dishes now, if possible. They will come clean easier than waiting until the gunk has dried and gotten hard.

I had friends whose homes always looked nice. Not that they had expensive furniture or decor, but most everything was usually in its place and clean.

It didn’t take me long to realize the difference. I began telling myself, “Do it now!” I also read books on home organization.

As children came along, I began to teach them the habits necessary have a clean, neat and orderly home. Trust me. It didn’t always look that way. We were not perfect. But at least we weren’t slobs.

What about those husbands? Ladies, here’s what you do about them: Pray! Pray! Pray! I learned that God could change my husband more in two days through my praying than I could accomplish in a year’s worth of nagging. Prayer changes things.

hospitality1

So regarding hospitality, what’s holding you back? Make a list of things. Then start another list of what you can do to make changes. Start with one thing. Maybe it’s just establishing the habit of “Do it Now!”, not LATER.

Don’t wait until you’re perfect to start being hospitable. You’ll never do it. Find that woman who looks lonely or that couple who looks lost. Invite them over for dessert. That’s a start. No one said you have to “put on the dog” as we say in the south.

Just be yourself. What did that definition say? Warm, friendly and generous. That’s it.

Hospitality. It’s almost a “lost art”. Try it. You may like it.

As leaders our homes should be hospitable, warm … friendly… inviting… welcoming, to our spouses and children; as well as our neighbors, friends, and those we serve.  As we set the standard, let’s keep in mind that when those we serve see that we can still be welcoming into our own homes (as imperfect as they may be)… so can they.

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Characteristics of Godly Leaders: RESPECTABLE

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Character

We are called to be different from the world, to develop and display Christ like attributes.  We choose to be common, or we choose to be holy.  Just as the articles in the temple were consecrated and set apart as holy, we too must be holy and not allow ourselves to be used for common purposes.  Both our speech and our actions should reflect the character of Christ. If we do not lead by example, we are no better than the religious leaders in Christ’s day whose actions did not match their words.

Respectable

Paul calls godly leaders to be respectable in 1 Timothy 3:2.  The Greek word used is kosmios, which means orderly, modest, and virtuous.  This is where Latinized form of the word cosmos originated, with which we are more familiar.  We use cosmos to refer to the universe, but it also means to order, arrange, equip, adorn, and dress.  God put the universe in perfect order and dressed it in an array of light and color that mankind could never imagine, and is just beginning to discover.  He was deliberate and intentional in His creation. 

To be orderly is to adorn ourselves with purposeful and intentional speech, dress, and behavior.  What we say and do should always point to our savior and not to ourselves.  This means we should not be attention seekers.  Attention seeking takes on various forms, such as coarse language, suggestive dress, or unseemly actions, the opposite of which would be modesty.

Speech

Obscenity is used today by many for its shock value. It is also used by people who wish to be perceived as intimidating, and/or to sound common and fit in with what is considered the norm.  Paul says we should not use obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking (Ephesians 5:4).  This extends beyond using the Lord’s name in vain, for how does it glorify God when we use obscenity in our everyday speech or when we are angry? Likewise, we do not need to use obscenity to persuade unbelievers.  The Holy Spirit will appeal to unbelievers. We are to deliver the message in the manner prescribed by God and allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. 

Actions

Leaders should not engage in activities that bring disorder into their lives.  Examples would include the use of mind altering substances (legal or otherwise), such as marijuana.  Don’t allow the enemy to tear your testimony apart by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, and be very mindful of the effects of prescription medications.  We need to avoid being drawn into arguments, gossip, or negative talk.  When we enter a room, leave the desire to be noticed behind.  Avoid “showing off”.  

God gave mankind the gift of free will.  He does not order us to make the right choices.  We also need to understand that we cannot control others.  We need to step back and allow those around us to make their own choices, good or bad.  This includes husbands, we are to trust God to work with them and not engage in telling them what to do.  Asking and accepting their answer is keeping God in control.  A leader should be a good example of godly humility and trust, especially in our home.

Lastly, suggestive dress should always be avoided.  The enemy uses this as a snare and it will not lead to anything God honoring.  Immodest dress creates ungodly chatter among women, and lustful desires among men.

Always be mindful that as leaders we are being observed and often emulated.  What we do and say can be used by God for His glory, or by the enemy as entrapment.

 

Characteristics of Godly Leaders: Self Control & Temperance

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As we continue to look at I Timothy 3:2 we see that a church leader must be someone who exercises self-control or demonstrate temperance.

This hits hard to some of us. I, for one, struggle with my weight. I’m going to be vulnerable here and just admit it. Food just really tastes good. And it’s fun to eat delicious food. It’s also such a social thing to do in our society. And not only that, but for some of us, food is an escape from reality as much as alcohol or drugs.

Some may say, “Well, those things are different!” I will agree that in some ways they are. We have to eat food to live, but we don’t have to have drugs or alcohol to live. In fact these things could kill us. But if we are truly honest, food can kill us too. Certain foods have been proven to be unhealthy. And overeating to the point of being overweight causes health issues, which can eventually cause death.

Ouch! Gracious! This article started out straight up and to the point.

But lest I appear to just be picking on those of us with weight issues, let me mention a few other areas I believe we need to demonstrate self control and temperance.

What about how much TV we watch? Or actually WHAT we watch on TV? There’s much too much junk on there.

What about those books we are constantly reading? Are we reading God’s Word too? What about all the time we spend on the internet?

What about our talk? What about that gossip? What about those harsh words that come out of our mouths to our spouse and children?

What about the way our homes look? Are we so busy doing other things that we don’t take care of the things with which God has blessed us? Are we so busy doing “godly work” that our families are suffering?

We as leaders in our churches must pray and maintain balance in our lives so that we are being good examples, demonstrating the qualities listed here in this scripture. Even though we are human like everyone else, we as leaders are looked up to and the world is following our lead. That is a sobering thought.

Is your life measuring up? Are you living as a good example of self control?

God help us to be diligent in rising above our human desires and let the Holy Spirit maintain control of our lives in every area so that we are truly leading the world into a relationship with Christ. And in doing this, we will be happier women. How so? Because following God’s way is always best.

Self control is not just something that is found as a qualification of a godly leader, but also listed as a Fruit of the Spirit.  We are all called to be self controlled, and leaders are expected to set the bar.