Panic and excitement. Two emotions that don’t seem to go together, yet that is what I felt when asked to lead a small group Bible Study for the first time. I had not been a Christian but a few years and felt totally ill-equipped and inadequate for the task. But I am so thankful that God saw potential in me and inspired a leader to extend the invitation.
However, as I allowed my own human emotions to get in the way of the assignment, it took longer for me to be comfortable in a leadership role. I remember making a complete mess of the first day of Bible Study. I had done my homework and research on the lesson, written it all down, word for word, and then read the entire lesson to the class. No eye contact, no group participation, just me reading a message out loud. Oh my goodness, what they must have thought! Yet, all these years later, I have heard from women who were in the class that they still remember the course and what we discussed as weeks went by.
As I look back on those years, I realize three important things that we can all learn from:
- You have to start somewhere. There is always a first time for everything you do. And even though you may not feel equipped or adequate, answer the call. If God had not pushed me out of my comfort zone at that time in my life, I believe I would have missed so much in the way of Bible Study, research, relationships, spiritual growth and tapping into the spiritual gifts He has given me. I would not have done those things on my own, but only by following God’s leading was I able. He knows what we do not know about ourselves.
- When God Guides He Provides. I am sure you have heard that said many times, but it is so true. God does not choose a person to lead and leave them hanging. He gives you what you need for the thing He has asked of you. It took a while, but when I finally let go of my word for word notes and used them only as a guide, my teaching completely changed. I became much more relaxed and enjoyed teaching more as I surrendered myself to the Holy Spirit for His leading in every lesson. We are simply the vessels through which He speaks. Yes, we are to study to be prepared. And with the information in mind, He delivers in a mighty way.
- Leaders, Don’t Be Intimidated by Inexperience. If the person who invited me to serve had looked at my experience as their guide for determining my ability to lead, she would not have asked me to lead. If we as leaders look only at the facts and experience without asking God for wisdom and direction in selecting leaders for Women’s Ministry, we may end up with a team of members who are burned out from overuse. The most passionate, eager and excited to serve women are typically those who are new to the faith and the ministry. They are the next generation of leaders. We would be wise to not overlook them, but rather listen to the Lord’s leading and seek out those He has chosen to serve with us.
As an extremely shy person all those years ago, I did not see myself standing in front of groups of women and speaking. But now, 25 or so years later, I am still standing in front of groups of women leading and speaking. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness, His guidance, His equipping power and wisdom. He is the source of all I have done and He is the source of all you can and will do. I am thankful I said yes, and you will be too because He will not let you down as you say ‘yes’ to Him.