My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9–10).
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. Despite the fact that many assign an elevated status and strength to those who lead, most of the lessons I've learned as a leader have come out of an awareness of my weakness.
Recognizing and Embracing Your Weakness
If you have been called to lead, perhaps you can relate to one or more of these things:
- You sometimes get tired of being the one everyone looks to for vision and what you're going to do/plan/speak on next. Just once you'd like to say, "I'm in a busy season, so I'm going to take this year off of serving. Please ask someone else to lead."
- You feel weighed down by the bondage, suffering, and deep struggles women share with you.
- You feel discouraged by women in the church who run after worldly pursuits, are in bondage to sin, seem to have little hunger for God's Word, and rarely show up for edifying ministry opportunities.
- There are a number of factors that can sometimes tempt you to question your call, including personal suffering, besetting sins, battles for time and energy, the expectations that others have of you, and even the struggle to maintain relationships in the midst of ministry.
- It can be exhausting to know others are watching you all the time.
- For example:
- As a women's ministry director in a large church, many have had a front-row seat as I've navigated the joys and struggles of life and ministry.
- They've seen both victories and failures in my battle for persevering faith.
- They've watched me strive to work out (imperfectly) the gospel truths I teach, and they seek to model the life I encourage them to live out.
- They have heard me lament when God has seemed silent, and they've rejoiced with my testimony of His faithfulness.
The reality, as any leader knows, is that leadership doesn't exempt you from the stresses, temptations, and trials of life. There will be battles with sin to fight, "people pleasing" to die to, selfish ambition to overcome, fears to face, and godly virtue to strive for, all while being called to lead others in these things.
Indeed, Paul urges us "to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love" (Eph. 4:1–2). And it's in this call that we feel our weakness and desperate need for Christ.
Persevering with Joy in Weakness
Here are some things that have helped me persevere with joy in the often lonely place of leadership.
1. Remember that your own personal walk with Christ is the most important thing you have to offer your women.
- When you are fearful, let them see you run with confidence to God's Word and promises (Isa. 41:13).
- When grief and suffering intrude upon your life, allow your women to see that "the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).
- When the pastors and elders of your church don't embrace a plan that seems good to you, model a submissive spirit that comes from your trust in God (Heb.13:17).
- When you feel deeply weary, let others see you trust God to supply what is needed to faithfully endure (Col.1:11).
2. Fearlessly and confidently teach and model for women what God's Word says about their purpose and design, knowing that this is the pathway to their greatest joy and blessing.
3. Remember that the same God who saved you (by grace) promises to equip and empower you (by grace) for the work He has given as you walk by faith in obedience (by grace).
4. Humbly confess your sin and struggles, asking others to pray for you. Leadership is not a one-woman show. Those we serve need to see that our strength is in the Lord, not ourselves. Invite mature, godly women that you trust to stand beside you, speak truth into your life, and pray faithfully for you.
5. Partner with and submit to your church leaders. Women's ministry must never be a silo ministry but should fully support your church's overall mission. Joining with women who grumble about church leadership should have no place in your life; instead, your pastors should thank God for your prayerful support of their leadership. Seek their counsel and wisdom often, and you will find your own load is much lighter.
On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. . . . Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:5, 9–10).
In what ways you have felt your weakness as a leader recently? How have God's Word and Spirit spoken directly into your weakness to convict, encourage, exhort, or strengthen you to persevere? Spend time in prayer asking God to help you in your weakness and bring you a greater measure of freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness.