A few weekends ago I spent a Saturday listening to the ARP Women’s Ministry Coordinator, Elizabeth Burns, present a session on “Re-thinking the Ministry of Women” in Gastonia. This was a bit of a sacrifice for me, because at the same time was the annual Elder/Deacon training under Mark Ross and I try hard not to miss an opportunity to hear Mark Ross. But they were recording him so I’ll eventually get to hear it. And there are fewer opportunities right now to hear Elizabeth Burns speak.
The first session (before lunch) was a good set-up of why we need women ministering to women. Pastors and Elders fill important roles, and women ministering to other women are also important.
She spent time explaining why God must be our all in all. We must be an intentional Christian, not an incidental Christian. She mentioned that God is the only one who can corral our emotions and keep them in check.
The reminder that woman’s purpose is to be holy and to glorify God, not to be busy was important. We can fill our schedule with “good” things but miss out on the better things. We get too busy with the many distractions in the world. We are supposed to be in the world, but not of the world.
She had us spend some time alone filling out a worksheet to help identify where we spend our time. The goal, of course, was to think about our priorities and if we are doing the right things. None of the things on the list were wrong, but all are open to an unhealthy balance. Spending more time on ourselves, other people, technology, instead of time with God and doing what God wants us to do.
This questionnaire wasn’t always easy and fun to fill in. It can be irritating to be expected to think about the things we do, find most of them are either necessary (to keep our job) or other-centered (taking care of the needs of others). But as the day wore on, I found my heart opening a bit more to admit that perhaps some of the needs of others were more my assumptions and self-imposed requirements, rather than things I really needed to be doing. Can I relax my grip on some things, un-schedule a few things?
We need to remember that the world places value and worth on the wrong things as end goals. We become convinced that everyone else is content and satisfied and happy. This is where true ministry happens. As we reveal truth – about our lives not being perfect and about our Savior being the perfect answer to it all.
After lunch she continued to build on this. Women’s Ministry should be about showing how to live as Christians. We should be encouraged, refreshed in spirit, and built up in faith. Then others will be drawn to those same qualities and seek the ultimate answer. We need a place of safety, confidentiality, and godly love. I loved this description because it is exactly what I feel my Circles provide for me.
She encourages this kind of ministry to be once a week, not just once a month. We need an umbrella of godly sanctuary and it should become all consuming. Only when God is our all in all can we find the indwelling of the spirit to power true ministry.
The second session worksheet was a series of statements we often make when discouraged or overwhelmed and verses where God’s statements show the truth.
Then she ended with a definition. Ministry is a lifestyle of devotion to advancing others’ faith and comes at personal expense.
My own conclusion: I need to count the cost and recognize my own dependency on Christ, but choosing not to be in ministry is not an option.