I have a confession – I really don’t have a job anymore. I am the director of women’s ministry and I think I have worked myself out of a job. How did this happen, you wonder?
I began leading women’s ministry in 2009. Up until then, we had about five women planning an annual retreat and a struggling Women on Mission (Southern Baptist Organization focusing on educating and involving women in missions) of about eight senior adult women.
I took the vision God had given me for women’s ministry and ran with it, developing eight teams that were made up of a total of fifty women, and engaged them ministry projects. It was a very exciting time for our women’s ministry!
During my first year of leading women’s ministry, I was doing almost everything (not recommended!) – teaching all the Bible studies, Wednesday night classes and the women’s Sunday School class. Over time more women began to take leadership roles, leading Book clubs and Bible studies. We began hosting women’s conferences and thriving.
Five years later, I’ve noted a change. I’ve noticed a change in our women. They have grown and they are finding their own opportunities for ministry – without me. They no longer need me. At first, this made me feel like a failure.
While at a social, a group of women waived me over. Of course, I assumed they needed my help. They were trying to encourage another woman to call one of them when she felt overwhelmed. One even described how she called another woman in our circle recently and had been calmed. After the conversation ended I was confused about why I was even called over…because they did not need me. I even wondered why the one lady had called the other lady instead of me. Wasn’t I still approachable enough??? Isn’t that a silly thought? After some retrospect, I felt that God wanted me to recognize that they were now equipped to encourage one another – without me.
I had started a women’s Sunday School class in 2007. It had been going well, but after taking over the responsibility for leading our women’s ministry, I could no longer lead it, so I handed it over to another woman who felt called to women’s ministry. Recently, I visited that Sunday Class, and I felt an overwhelming presence of God in that class. I am more of a lecturer, so few women gave input when I taught. But now, this group of women is very comfortable sharing and encouraging one another. This class has grown numerically and spiritually – without me.
In 2010, our Women on Mission was officially moved under the women’s ministry umbrella. The president stepped down to take care of family matters so I appointed another woman who had a passion for that ministry. Today, it is the preferred women’s ministry offering in our church and has grown tremendously – without me.
Our church also recently started engaging at a local children’s mission. Women are feeding and loving those kids. Some of our women are mentoring those kid’s moms – without me.
And it’s all wonderful!
Here we are in 2015, and my Wednesday night class is less full now. Our women are serving in missions, missions support and working with our own youth and children’s ministries. They are leading their own Bible studies and prayer groups.
I had noticed this for a while and had mentioned my concern over my diminishing Wednesday night class to the pastor I report to. He then asked me a very thought-provoking question. He asked, Do you think it’s your job to get every woman in our church involved in women’s ministry? I guess I had believed that. But now that sounded so silly to me.
Our goal is not to get women engaged in women’s ministry, but into the ministry of the church, ministering to others and growing closer to God. Maybe we help facilitate that process with women’s ministry initiatives, but a women’s ministry should not be the sum of our efforts. The sum of our women’s ministry should be to encourage authentic gospel living. That’s how we work ourselves out of a job, and that’s okay.
In case you want to work yourself out of job (a.k.a. facilitate spiritual growth in your church’s women), here are the 3 main things I recommend doing:
- Share ministry; don’t hoard it. As women feel led to teach a class, lead a team and branch out to other non-women’s ministries, encourage them. When possible, help launch them into their desired ministry
- Teach on spiritual gifts. Every believer should know what their giftings are and challenged to use them in ministry. I try to teach on this topic about every three years.
- Be excited about your own ministry. Paul said in Roman’s 11:13b-14 “I magnify my ministry, if I can somehow make my own people jealous and save some of them.” Gill’s Exposition says of this scripture, “provoke to emulation”. I want to compel women to follow Jesus by demonstrating how much I love living for Him and serving Him.
So, what’s next for me? Am I done? By no means am I done. As our women change and grow, I must adjust how I lead that function of my church. I am looking at new opportunities for engaging and assimilating new women. I am considering our college-aged girls. I am devising plans to reach more women in our community.
How are you working yourself out of your job? What’s up next for you?
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, Hebrews 10:24
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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mom and the Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, she is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.