Leaders Know: Clarity Is Kindness

We’re all best equipped to meet expectations when we know what those expectations are. The reverse is also true, of course. We tend to wilt, not bloom, when our efforts are planted in the soil of ambiguity. (I find this to be especially true of women.) 

“Clarity is kindness.”

That’s one of the many mottos I’ve carried with me as I’ve led women in various settings. As you model servant leadership in your church and community, in many ways your job description is that of a Chief Clarity Officer. 

  • You help women understand Scripture.
  • You walk with them as they discern God’s clear will for their life.
  • You spearhead marketing efforts so women know where and when to show up for the next annual event or Bible study launch. 

Though in the ultimate sense, the “success” of your ministry hinges on the work of the Holy Spirit, in the practical sense, the recruitment and retention of volunteers, attendance at events, and support of other leaders around you depends on your ability to communicate clearly. (Have I made my point clear?) One area of local church ministry where this is especially vital is in recruiting and training Bible study teachers. 

Build Long On-Ramps

Without stepping foot onto your church campus, I know one thing for sure: you need Bible teachers. Sometimes the constancy and urgency of that need can cause us to give a teaching platform over to a woman without proper vetting and training. I can also assume, with a high degree of confidence, that you’ve likely experienced the reality that unvetted teachers can do more harm than good. 

Through trial and error, I’ve learned to weave clear and helpful processes for all teachers within the format of women’s ministry. The following are some specifics of how I have done that. This may not all apply to your ministry forum, but it might spark some new ideas. 

1. Design a Structure that Allows for Short-Term Assignments

Our women’s ministry is built in semesters or cycles: fall, spring, and summer. When I served as the women’s ministry director, I contacted anyone who had taught before or expressed an interest in teaching and asked them to commit to teach for a limited period of time (typically 6–12 weeks). This cycling process allowed those who discovered that teaching was not a fit for their gifts to exit without drama.

2. Make Training Mandatory

In order to teach a Bible study group under my leadership, volunteers were required to attend a training series that mirrored what we were preparing to launch with the wider group. For example, if our fall study was a six-week study, volunteer teachers would meet for six weeks prior to the semester launch to walk through the study together along with some additional instruction and discussion on leading women. 

I went out of my way to make this something volunteers looked forward to by doing simple things like providing a meal, setting aside time to pray for and support each other, providing studies and resources at no cost to the volunteer, and by giving them small gifts such as seed packets, bookmarks, and additional resources. 

As women approached me to express a desire to teach (or when I approached them), I was upfront that this training was mandatory, meaning they could not teach without attending. Occasionally, the timing didn’t work well for a woman or two and I would meet with them individually. It didn’t take long for this rhythm to become expected and the volunteer teachers often told me how much they looked forward to our training time. 

One alternate idea is to do a training weekend rather than spreading it out over several weeks. There is room to adapt for your vision, but setting the bar for quality training among those who want to teach goes a long way toward establishing clear expectations. 

3. Invest in the Next Generation

The days of a teacher staying with the same Sunday school class for forty years seem to have come and gone. Because of their busy schedules, most women favor a short-term commitment. This leads to an ongoing need to train up fresh volunteers. One way to respond to this reality is to become frustrated and discouraged by the constancy of it. Instead, I’ve found it exciting to have the privilege of identifying those women already sitting in church who don’t know (or haven’t figured out how to use) the spiritual gifts and abilities God has given them for the good of His Bride. 

“Have you ever taught a Bible study?” is one of my favorite sentences to say. Very often, the woman I speak those words to has had a desire to teach for some time but insecurity has kept her from speaking up. She’s often wondered, “Why me?” or “What could I possibly have to offer?”

As leaders, we have the privilege of connecting the gifts God has given women with the need for women to be discipled. Embrace it! And find ways to always be reaching toward those who likely aren’t ready to teach yet but can be with some investment and encouragement from you. 

The current women’s ministry leader at our church accomplishes this by hosting a simple annual luncheon for anyone interested in teaching the Bible. She recruits an established teacher within our church to share some inspirational thoughts about teaching the Bible and gives space for women to share their own ideas. It helps women feel like they're not jumping without a parachute and makes it clear that those who teach the Bible within our church are part of a team. 

4. Establish a Covenant

Put your expectations in writing. I accomplished this by working with the pastors and elders of my church to develop a straightforward, one-page covenant that teachers and I signed every semester. (We’ve included that covenant in this issue of the Side by Side as a free download!) 

Implementing this communication piece provided a conflict-free way to communicate about which issues are non-negotiable at our church (like the authority of Scripture) and which ones are open for discussion and disagreement. 

As all of us are learners when it comes to the character and Word of God, this allows women of varying levels of maturity to still serve while minimizing the risk of bad or underdeveloped teaching on central doctrines. 

I always asked women to take time to pray through the covenant before signing it. I also signed each covenant to signal that the teachers and I were partnered in affirming that we agreed on each core doctrine. 

Commissioning All Chief Clarity Officers

  • What questions do you field most often from your teachers?
  • What are some things your teachers wish they’d known before they started opening their Bibles with women?
  • What has caused women to stop teaching within your ministry?

These are just a few questions that, if you’re brave enough to ask them, could help you identify where clarity is lacking in your women’s ministry. As you head into the fall ministry season, take some time to ask around about how you can provide more clarity. After all, clarity is kindness. 

As someone who has been called and equipped to lead women to Jesus through His Word, may you find new ways to clearly communicate the riches that are found in Him. 

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.