The very beginnings of the woman are sweet, tender, and honorable. God formed life into her the same way He did with man, with the breath of His Spirit. He empowered her with wisdom, influence, and the ability to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit. Yet, somehow along the way, her dignity and purpose were lost and stolen in the shadows of legalism, pride, and rules.
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, we see how he turns thoughts, opinions, and teachings upside down, or according to the Kingdom of Heaven, right side up, as He restores purpose and calling back to the identity of His Daughters.
Luke 8:1-3, NIV says, “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
We see this beautiful expression of Jesus welcoming His Daughters into His earthly ministry. Because of this and other ministry opportunities with the inclusion of women, our significance and Biblical roles have been reestablished within the church.
When Paul was actively spreading the Gospel and strengthening the church throughout his Epistles, he was teaching, “There is neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NIV). What great news for us as women who have the Holy Spirit tugging at our hearts to step into our callings!
Leading a ministry is no small feat. It requires grit, strength, boldness, and complete reliance on the Holy Spirit for direction in all aspects. As you step into a leadership role within the Kingdom, you are not only being entrusted with the calling and work that has been sown into your own heart, but you also must steward the hearts of the men and women partnering with you in your mission, in paid positions as well as volunteer positions.
Over fourteen years ago, my God dreams were birthed through two ministries, Scarlet’s Hope and Scarlet’s Bakery. With the help of my best friend, two other women, and our collective husbands, we have been able to hire a total of ninety employees along the way, nearly all of which were women. We have staffed a few men, a man who was our development director and two who worked at our bakery. However, with three to four hundred women volunteers and a women staff majority, we are running a highly estrogen-driven ministry.
Here are some helpful things that I have learned as I lead a team of women in the calling of my ministry.
Women are wired differently than men.
Women are wired much differently than men, which is why God saw that it was good to make a suitable helper for Adam to bring strengths where he was lacking, and the other way around.
As a leader within a ministry, you cannot expect the same things out of women staff that you do of men staff. While men are more physical, calculated workers, women bring an additional emotional aspect to the table.
Women naturally carry a different balance of nurturing and intuition with them as they come to work. Because of our empathetic nature, we tend to carry our lives on our proverbial sleeves. Not only as a leader must you care for them as a person on staff or as a volunteer, but you must care for them as humans with families, dreams, and heartache.
To be a good leader within this kind of environment requires you to create a safe space that allows your staff to process their hurts and frustrations while also making it a priority to coach them when a job needs to be completed. A good leader can remain flexible in providing either circumstance while remaining open-minded when both are necessary at one time.
Leading a predominantly female staff should not be considered a challenge or inconvenience. Instead, it should be viewed as a beautiful expression of the humanity of empathy and emotion, both of which are needed to reach the world with the Gospel.
Action step: Delegate one or two people on your team to create a space where women can connect to share in one another’s burdens. This could look like a group text for prayer requests and quick connection or a bi-weekly Bible study meetup. As you grow together as women holding one another up, your team will naturally bond and connect spiritually and emotionally.
Create a community where women can belong.
Nothing can compare to the warmth and inclusion that women bring to a community. Where they are welcoming, they are also empathetic and encouraging. The love and loyalty of women is such a beautiful example of the heart of Jesus.
Walking out the Gospel in our lives is a challenge when women are preoccupied with the responsibilities of being a wife, a mother, a friend, or an employee. It’s even more so when you combine the heartache of this world, a global pandemic, shame, and mental health issues into the mix. Now more than ever, we need mothers in the faith to step up and guide the women that will come after us. The relationship and mentorship of Ruth and Naomi throughout the Old Testament book of Ruth is a grace-filled portrayal of how important spiritual mothers are. Spiritual mothers continually pray on their knees, encourage their spiritual daughters in the valley, and call them to rise up and step into her callings.
Scarlet’s Hope, a ministry that serves women in the adult entertainment industry, has collectively been a safe place for women to feel that they matter, they are seen, and they are loved. Not only did the women who were being served feel as if they belonged, but Christian women who were looking for a place to honor and serve God through His ministry felt the same way.
Scarlet’s Hope has been a safe and nurturing home for cultivating friendship, which has often flourished into feeling like family. Not only were these women like-minded in the mission to bring the Gospel to the hurting, but their lives were forever woven into the fabric of those serving alongside them. Deep relationships were formed, but they were also committed to the work that Christ called them to and have continued to volunteer for over ten years now.
The community that women create is beautiful, both in staff and those being served. Let’s remember to honor that gentle, safe space.
Action step: A great way to continue to build the existing bond throughout your staff and volunteers is through team-building events and activities. A practical way to do this is by scheduling quarterly outings or get-togethers. This could range from a team picnic in the park to a Friday night game night to as simple as a night out at the movies. Planning times and locations for your team to get together outside of ministry time will encourage emotional and relational growth while allowing them to get to know one another on a deeper level.
Create an environment where women can be encouraged.
The more I began to lead a group of women within this ministry, the more I became aware of how much each woman had a unique personality and a particular way that she felt loved. As I discovered this, I began to dig into the Five Love Languages, which includes acts of service, gifts, quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation. Upon learning more, I eventually asked my staff and volunteers to take the assessment.
I was shocked to discover that the highest-ranked love language within my team was words of affirmation. At that point, I was keenly aware that God was going to do a work in my heart as well because words of affirmation were far from natural for me! In the days to follow, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I was intentional and practiced giving words of affirmation to the women who worked and served in my ministry.
It was in this season that God spoke clarity through His revelation by revealing to me, “This is important for people and important for the women serving the mission.”
As I began to brainstorm ways to bring words of affirmation to my team, the Lord revealed very specific ways for each particular woman on my team. I began to give out handwritten cards expressing my appreciation for a job well done; I verbally expressed where each woman stood with me as a leader, encouraged them throughout the day, and reinforced the unique and special things they brought to the ministry.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”, Proverbs 31:24, NIV
The more I pondered on the importance of love languages in the workplace, the more I realized how important it was for each woman on my staff and serving as a volunteer to feel loved, encouraged, and lifted up. Because you never know what a woman is enduring at home, in her heart, or the thoughts that take up mental space, encouragement during the darkest days of her soul can bring healing, light, and life to her circumstances.
Action Step: If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to have your team take the Five Love Language quiz. Not only will the results help your team understand the best way they feel loved (which will be valuable throughout every relationship in their lives), but it will give you, their leader, insight into how to best encourage and build them up. I personally have seen and felt the difference between serving and doing life with a filled love tank as opposed to an empty one!
Set clear direction for your volunteers.
Our volunteers are such a vital part of the ministry. While we have a paid staff that takes care of the logistical, nitty-gritty of our organization, it is through our volunteers that the hands and feet of Jesus are really known. My appreciation continues to grow and grow for those who choose to spend their time, resources, and hearts while advancing God’s word in this mission.
Because volunteers are not paid positions, there can be mishaps or kinks that need to be worked out should there be a lack of communication. With a few hundred volunteers across our multi-location ministry, in order to keep things running smoothly, there must be a clear direction.
I have learned and experienced that ambiguity leads to chaos. When my volunteers have uncertainty in the task set before them or are unclear of what is expected in any event, it can lead to a lack of hands, negative attitudes, and avoidable turmoil.
The dramas of life will always be present because people are messy, broken, and human. However, when you run a ministry, you can avoid excess drama by being intentional about your expectations and boundaries surrounding what working and serving looks like on your team. When you lay firm guidelines, it takes the guesswork out of the unknown.
Questions you can answer right away include:
- How and where can I sign up to volunteer?
- What serving opportunities do you have available?
- What specific ways can I help?
- Once I arrive at a serving opportunity, who do I meet, and where do I go?
- Between what time frames am I expected to serve?
- Do I need to bring anything with me?
- What things and circumstances can I expect as I am volunteering in the field?
As a word of caution, even with firm boundaries surrounding what is expected, the drama may still surface. As a leader, it is crucial that you set yourself apart and remain a neutral party with everyone involved. A good practice is to address the drama Biblically while partnering with the Holy Spirit.
“Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”, Romans 14:19, NIV
As a leader, God has equipped you with the skills and mindsets needed to promote a healthy family of staff and volunteers. Here are a few key ways to bring peace where chaos is present:
God promises that as we bring our requests and concerns to Him, He will hear us. There have been many times that, as a leader, I was unsure of how to move forward in experiencing a conflict within a ministry or workplace. When we come to Him, He will meet us with His peace beyond our understanding. As we trust Him with our leadership, ministry, and staff, He will reveal our next step.
2. Meet with the person you are in conflict with one-on-one.
Confrontation is never easy; however, it can bring restoration and growth in a loving, kind-mannered environment. As a leader, it is essential that we encourage and edify in all things. A good practice when expressing constructive criticism is, to begin with, a positive, followed by your concern, and ending on another positive note. Not only will your staff member or volunteer feel appreciated and encouraged with the spoken positives, but their hearts will be in a space to take your correction with grace.
3. Promote reconciliation between both parties, if needed.
When one or two members are in conflict, the rest of the team feels the aftermath. As a leader, you are the mediator for your team. I encourage you to promote reconciliation in a private setting, with both parties involved, while allowing a safe space for each to express their concerns with the other. When you continue to lead in humility, gentleness, and truth, your team can thrive in unity and peace.
Action step: Promote clear expectations and communication by including an FAQ page pertaining to serving with your ministry. Not only will those interested in serving with your ministry have the framework and expectations before signing up, but you will also have an active reference point to direct your volunteers should they have any questions pertaining to what is required of them.
Women play a significant part in advancing the Gospel throughout the earth. With the gentleness, beauty, and nurture they bring to ministries everywhere, it is through them that God displays His provision as a parent and friend.
Beloved Daughter and sister, may I encourage you to stay the course set before you with gumption and grace. You are essential, you are needed, and you have been equipped in heart, body, and spirit to lead the women God has placed before you. May you be encouraged with the promise and the calling the Father has lavished upon you.
“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45, NIV
Bonus Video: How to plan a retreat:
How have you led female staff and volunteers in the past? What has worked? What hasn’t worked? Share with me in the comments below.