My husband thinks all I do is have coffee or lunch with people in ministry. And while I do spend a lot of time doing “real” work, it’s true that a good part of what I do is hang out with people in ministry to hear what’s working and what’s not, discover the dreams, and explore the challenges. This helps our team create resources that are based on actual needs for ministry leaders.
Over the course of these conversations, I’ve been surprised by how transparent leaders have been with me about their lives. And I’ve discovered that the “regular” parts of life (work problems, family issues, cleaning the house, getting the car repaired, and all of the real stuff we deal with) simply cannot be separated from our ministry lives. We can’t easily compartmentalize our lives, and ministry spills into the rest of our lives while the rest of our lives spill (overflow!) into our ministries. The fact is life is messy! Which makes ministry an extra challenge at times.
Within a recent week, I’ve talked with women in ministry who have shared:
- “My husband told me he wants a divorce… and I also just found out I’m pregnant.”
- “My daughter is engaged to a woman.”
- “My son is being charged with a crime and is likely to end up in prison.”
- “My husband got let go from work.”
This was just in one week! In a month, I hear things like this over and over again from those in leadership. Life is so much harder than we thought it would be, and it’s only magnified when we’re in leadership.
My heart is touched by these leaders who are so open and vulnerable. They’re not standing up at the front of the room saying, “I have it all together. Look at me! My life is perfect!” Instead, they’re saying, “I don’t have any idea what tomorrow will bring. Life is hard. But God is still in control, and I love him!” Their authenticity and genuineness mean more to me than all the well-styled hair, shiny teeth, and perfect clothes of a “polished” leader who has it all together.
No, we don’t have to let all of our troubles hang out everywhere so we’re walking piles of misery. But we can let others know we’re just like them, leading the best we can in the midst of life’s challenges.
No matter where you are on your journey as a woman and as a leader, God is with you. I don’t have any easy answers, so all I can do is hang on to Jesus. I hope you’re doing the same.
Amy Nappa, former and much-loved Champion for Women’s Ministry at Group Publishing in Loveland, Colorado.