leadership

How can leaders help girls develop a missional lifestyle?

I have a confession: I’m not perfect. There, I said it. Even though I was a pastor’s child, a GA, and a pretty good girl, I still didn’t understand what it meant to live on mission with God. I know my leaders meant well, but this is what I walked away with as a teen:

  • I need to read my Bible.
  • My friends are lost, and if I don’t make sure they are saved, it’s my fault if they go you know where.
  • If I have problems, I need to pray.

Not all bad things, but it didn’t compel me to fulfill the Great Commission either. Don’t get me wrong—I loved hearing the stories, I learned about Lottie Moon, and for heaven’s sake, I was the 1995 Associational GA Princess (What, what!). But there was still something missing.

Helping someone develop a missional lifestyle doesn’t start in the mind; it begins in the heart. Below you will find four tips to help you develop a strategy to engage girls in cultivating a missional lifestyle.

Number One: Set Goals.

When Pastors Don't See a Need for Missions Discipleship

Susan Bryant, Kentucky WMU president, was recently asked how she responds to pastors who might not understand the benefits of children’s missions discipleship. Read Susan’s thoughts below:

I should have seen the warning signs—a pastor who had not grown up in Royal Ambassadors, Wednesday evening programming that was being rearranged, and other ideas for our children that were being promoted. I had been a GA leader at my church for more than 30 years, and I couldn’t fathom anything but spending Wednesday evenings traveling around the world in the basement of our church.

Then came the day when my pastor scheduled a meeting to discuss alternatives to Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors. I knew I needed to present a clear vision for missions education for our children. We both wanted the same thing—the best atmosphere for our children to learn that God loves them and loves the world.

GA Groups in Small Churches

There are always two sides to a coin. While some see a small church as a disadvantage to missions discipleship, it can be a strength that creates an effective GA ministry.

Small groups can allow for more meaningful discussion times. As questions and issues arise, leaders have the chance to address each concern. This allows for more significant discussions, as well as cultivating a leader’s ability to guide girls into a deeper understanding of their world and missions. At times, there may be an activity that requires more participants than a group has available. The leader could adapt the game to fit a smaller number of people, but be sure to keep the intent. Or better yet, the leader could use this as an opportunity to invite a women or men’s class to come play with her GAs.

One of the greatest strengths of a smaller church is the longevity of its members. This dynamic allows leaders to watch their GA girls grow up to become leaders themselves with a great opportunity for influence in future generations.

Wisdom-Martin elected executive director of WMU, SBC

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Sandra Wisdom-Martin, executive director of WMU of Texas, was unanimously elected executive director/treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union, SBC, by the WMU executive board during a special called meeting, July 29-30, in Birmingham, Ala.

Wisdom-Martin succeeds Wanda Lee, who has served as executive director of the 128-year-old missions organization for the past 16 years. Wisdom-Martin, who will begin her new role on Oct. 15, was presented to the board by a search committee appointed in February following Lee’s announcement of her intentions to retire.

Prior to leading WMU of Texas since 2010, Wisdom-Martin served as women’s missions and ministries director for the Illinois Baptist State Association, 2001-2010; and as Cooperative Program Missionary with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, 1991-2001.

Trust During Transition

Several years ago, former national WMU president Janet Hoffman sent me a little book by Robert J. Morgan entitled The Red Sea Rules: Ten God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times. Recently when I was preparing a devotion for a group of denominational leaders, I noticed the caption at the bottom of the front cover of the book: “The same God who led you in will lead you out.” Wow! What an important truth for me as I prepare to hand over the leadership of WMU to a new leader in the coming months.

I have prayed to know how to end well and transition well with all things in good order as the new leader arrives. This statement prompted me to pause and remember the journey God led me through as He called me to serve 16 years ago. I was reluctant, scared, and uncertain of my abilities to lead, but God ultimately demonstrated for me a most valuable lesson: whatever He called me to do He would be right there going ahead of me, with me, and coming behind me to make all things work for His good. I have seen Him do just that over and over during my years of service.

Reflections on Leadership

In 2001 at the end of my first year as executive director for national WMU, I wrote an article for our magazines about my experience after one year in office. It had been a year of great change for me personally—job changes for my husband and me, a move that required selling and buying a house, helping both our children graduate from higher education experiences, and a wedding for our daughter. What a first year on the job! And that list doesn’t include all the changes at national WMU as it embraced me as its new leader.
 
As I reflect upon 16 years of service in this role, it is interesting to note each “lesson learned” I identified in the 2001 article I still believe to be true today. So what were my reflections on leadership at the end of year one?
 
1. You can never overcommunicate your message.
2. Relationships are paramount for success.
3. Leadership means serving others by enabling them to serve.
4. Listen, listen, listen, and then you have the right to speak.
5. Most of all, in our weakness, God is most clearly seen and His will accomplished.

An Opportunity to Develop

Develop WMU online training

Author John Maxwell wrote, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I believe this is so true. In recent months, I have written From Missionary Ridge articles about 2015 being a year to focus on equipping missions leaders in the church. Through events in the Midwest and western regions and during the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting this past June in Ohio, much attention was given through conferences to help missions leaders feel confident in their role of leading small groups of children, youth, or adults. The success of any program or event rises and falls on the quality of leadership that guides the effort. WMU has been blessed throughout our history with wonderful, enthusiastic leaders who make missions and missionaries come alive in the hearts and minds of those they lead, thus keeping the missions passion alive from generation to generation.

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