Today our guest blogger Kay Halligan shares how ministry to and for women has made a difference to her.
This morning while reading Philippians 2, I came across the following story from Warren Wiersbe:
A popular local nightclub performer visited a pastor and announced that he had been saved and wanted to serve the Lord. “What should I do next?” he asked.
“Well, I’d suggest you unite with a good church and start growing,” the pastor replied. “Is your wife a Christian?”
“No, she isn’t,” the musician replied. “I hope to win her. But, do I have to wait? I mean, I’d like to do something for God right now.”
“No, you don’t have to wait to witness for the Lord,” explained the pastor. “Get busy in a church, and use your talents for Christ.”
“But you don’t know who I am!” the man protested. “I’m a big performer—everybody knows me. I want to start my own organization, make records, and appear before big crowds!”
“If you go too far too fast,” warned the pastor, “you may hurt yourself and your testimony. And the place to start winning people is right at home. God will open up places of service for you as He sees you are ready. Meanwhile, study the Bible and give yourself a chance to grow.”
The man did not take the pastor’s counsel. Instead, he set up a big organization and started out on his own. His “success” lasted less than a year. Not only did he lose his testimony because he was not strong enough to carry the heavy burdens, but his constant traveling alienated him from his wife and family. He drifted into a “fringe group” and disappeared from public ministry, a broken and bankrupt man.
“His branches went out farther than his roots went deep,” the pastor said. “When that happens, you eventually topple.” (The Bible Exposition Commentary, 1996)
Wiersbe was making a contrast between this man’s example and that of Timothy’s ministry under Paul. I was drawn to the illustration—not because of its reference to musical ability, the only instrument I play is my car radio, but because I have recently been reflecting on the people and circumstances God has placed in my life and how they have shaped me. I am reminded of how awesome His hand on my life is, even when I don’t clearly sense it.
One of the most significant ways God has worked in and through my life has been through Women’s Ministries in my local church. Ironically, I almost missed His blessing through my own stubbornness and immaturity. As a young, single career woman, I thought Women’s Ministry held nothing for me—that it was just for “crafty” old women and stay-at-home moms. I was convinced that they would have nothing in common with a woman like me, an intense, driven working woman who was also a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. I thought they would be judgmental. (Are you beginning to see the irony?)
God stepped in. A year after my husband and I got married, He nudged me into Women’s Ministry—it was clear that I was ill-equipped to be the kind of wife, much less eventually mother, who would bring honor to Him and be a blessing to my husband. He humbled me. I needed help and insight from those “old women and stay-at-home moms,” and I found it!
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled,” (Titus 2:3–5, ESV).
First of all, not all the women were old, or stay-at-home moms. I met women of varying ages and stages: young moms, older moms, singles of all ages, working women and retired women, and women who had raised their children and returned to work. The two things we all had in common were that we were women and we wanted to learn to love Jesus. Praying, studying God’s Word, and sharing our lives together helped us to love Jesus and love each other.
Several older women have invested significantly in my life over the past 17 years. One friend has taught me homemaking skills (a clear need in my life!), and she always has an encouraging word to say about my husband and each of my three girls (much appreciated as my girls have entered the pre-teen and teenage years!). A couple others have been instrumental in teaching God’s Word and helping me to grow spiritually. Like the musician in the opening illustration, I have been tempted to run ahead of God’s good purposes and plan. I can count on these women for godly wisdom, advice and prayer. They’ve walked before me, and have great insight to offer. In addition, these women have also helped me to identify and develop the spiritual gifts God has given me, and they have encouraged and exhorted me to use them. So, while helping me not to run ahead, they are not content to allow me to lag behind and miss the blessing of being obedient in service to our Lord, either.
After about 5 years, God lead me into serving as a small group leader in Women’s Ministry. Under the influence of seasoned Bible teachers and in the fellowship and cross-training of other mature believers, God caused my roots to grow deep before allowing my branches to grow out. Now, a dozen or so years later, He has opened the door to a ministry that He laid on my heart way back then—leading a small group Bible study for my neighbors in my home. Had I attempted this ministry on my own, in my own timing, I would have ended up like the musician. Thank God for His gracious hand on my life, at all times, in all seasons!
So, my experience in Women’s Ministry has come full circle. I’m now the stay-at-home mom, encouraging younger moms to love their husbands and children (even when it isn’t easy!). And I’m so thankful for those who are a few steps ahead willing to invest in me as well.