Do I share? Do I care? Can I bear?
I spotted a church sign recently that read, “Stop looking back or you will run into something directly in front of you.” There is merit in letting go in order to move forward. However, experience is also a valuable teacher. I hope to balance both in this blog.
For almost 15 years, I led women’s ministry in a church I attended at the time. In 1990, I co-founded the ministry with the help of a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who served on the church staff. Up until that point, the women focused on missions only and discovered they were not reaching the younger demographic. Both the LPC and I believed it was hard teaching working mothers about the needs in Africa when they felt they were drowning themselves.
We had a strategic plan. Step 1: Unite women of all ages and get them together in a social atmosphere; Step 2: Find ways to encourage the women to get real with one another; Step 3: Teach the women how to share one’s needs and bear one another’s burdens based on Galatians 6; Step 4: Gently work in ways to provide mission and outreach efforts to the women in the surrounding community; and, finally Step 5: Teach other churches how to do the same so that all neighborhoods in the community were covered.
I have to be honest with you; the majority of the women did not like the strategic plan. They just wanted to have fun. I was encouraged to step down from my role in order for a more social group of leaders to take it from there. I did so willingly and not begrudgingly.
On another occasion, this same women’s ministry invited me back to the church to speak at their annual tea party. Within one week, I was uninvited being told that I was “too deep” and the ladies “just really wanted to have fun” at their event. I know you must be thinking, “Uh-oh, she is bitter.” Really, I’m not. If you know me well, you know I would tell you if I was bitter over the experience. I never want to go where I am not wanted. I am well aware I have an intense style of preaching. I understood the majority of women in the group did not understand the long-range plan of starting with self and then building out into the community.
My hope was to take this particular group of women, teach them how to be authentic in their faith, follow Galatians 6, and advance to the point that we really cared about what happens in Africa. I don’t know where their women’s ministry is at this point because I am no longer affiliated with the church. I discovered many Christian women feel the same way.
A very close friend of mine shared that she does not even listen to Christian radio because the prayer requests depress her. I didn’t gasp. I understood. I like to call this the “Pollyanna Paradigm.” It is a lot more comfortable to believe the world is all good and to want to smile our way out of every circumstance. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be saddened by problems – our own or the problems of others – it just simply is not biblical.
I am well aware that some women wear out their welcome by constantly whining. I am not suggesting we enable everyone to go around with their pouty panties showing all the time. That, too, is not biblical. I am suggesting we get real, be honest, and impact the world for Christ by showing we are capable of sharing, bearing, and caring.
Otherwise, we are going to need a whole lot of tea in order to pass the time, sisters.