Women in Ministry: Leadership Defined By Gwyn Oakes
What challenges lay ahead for family, church, and work ?
Some challenges will cause us to chart courses where we have never walked before; others will be familiar and routine. As a lady in leadership, your role often demands even more – you will have to be a friend…coach…and mediator. It means you will be responsible for delegating, motivating and praising, working under pressure, meeting tight deadlines, organizing people, projects and schedules. And all of it on an ongoing basis!
For more than forty years I have served as ladies leader, mother, pastor’s wife, preacher, Sunday school teacher, writer, and the list goes on, so I am able to relate to many of your situations. Regardless of past experience we can all benefit from new ideas that will help to keep us at our best performance. What are the essentials for a woman as a Christian leader? Many of the world’s militaries provide excellent training in leadership, but true spiritual leadership goes even deeper in character and commitment:
- A leader is a follower. The Bible has much more to say about following than leading—specifically, following Christ. As Joshua took over leadership from Moses, God told him repeatedly to stay immersed in His Word and to follow what it says. A leader, regardless of gender must have a rich, deep connection with Jesus Christ, through Bible study, prayer, and consistent practice of godly living.
- A leader is a servant. “Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all'” (Mark 9:35). A leader’s purpose is to seek the highest good of those whom she leads, never to lord it over others, and not to use her position for personal advantage.
- A leader serves for the right motives. Anyone who seeks leadership in order to gain personal power, prestige, position, or money is off the track of true spiritual leadership. When Jesus defined Peter’s role as a leader after His ascension, he repeatedly said, “Feed my sheep.” He notified Peter that it would lead to his death, and that his overriding purpose was to glorify God.
- A leader is clear about the mission. A leader not only looks out for the people in her charge; she takes them in a clear direction. The analogy with military leadership is clear: without a clear sense of mission, the troops accomplish nothing. A spiritual leader knows there is a spiritual mission, and that it is not always easy; but that it is worth the sacrifice, even to lead others to sacrifice. The mission for spiritual leaders is summed up in Jesus’ last words on earth: to make disciples of all nations. A leader’s close relationship with God and awareness of needs in the world leads to a specific sense of mission.
- A leader leads. Given the proper foundations of following Christ, being a servant, starting from right motives, and understanding the mission, a leader moves forward with a courage that inspires others to follow.
- A leader learns. A leader seeks out great models to emulate; reads well and often; and frequently (and humbly) seeks feedback from others, including her followers, in order to discover ways to change, improve, and grow. “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15, NIV). Remember that when the word man is used it is generally speaking to humankind. There are many effective women in ministry in the Bible.
*Jaime Gibbs made this statement: Christian leaders often face some incredibly challenging and complex ethical dilemmas. Lack of regular training and accountability leave Christian leaders more and more in the position of simply doing what is right in their own eyes. In the opening paragraphs to Timothy, Paul sought to warn his young protégé by citing the situation of the men who had shipwrecked their faith because they had not held on “to faith and a good conscience” (1 Tim 1:19- 20). The Bible repeatedly indicates that ethical living (holding on to.a good conscience) is not only God’s desire for all Christians, but is also necessary for God-honoring ministry. People who engage in Christian ministry must be continually conscious of the urgency of living with Christian ethics in the midst of the challenges that inevitably arise. *Used by permission of Jaime Gibbs
Gwyn Oakes is president of Ladies Ministries for the United Pentecostal Church International, a position she has held since 1994. She resides in Jacksonville, Arkansas. For 36 years, Brother and Sister Oakes pioneered and pastured a United Pentecostal Church in Bald Knob, Arkansas. Three daughter works are flourishing from the work in Bald Knob. She previously served as Arkansas Ladies President for 19 years. She has two sons, two daughters, three grandsons and a great granddaughter. She is a speaker, author, artist and a sculptress. Under her leadership the following ministries have begun in Ladies Ministries of the United Pentecostal Church: Mothers of Prayer (previously Daughters of Zion), Women of Worth for widowed ministers wives, More to Life Bible Studies and literature, HOPE, and Today’s Christian Girl International. She serves as board member of the Tupelo Children’s Mansion, The Light House Ranch for Boys, and on the Advisory Board of New Beginnings. She taught the Women in Ministry class for three years at Gateway College of Evangelism and also served on the Board of Trustees at Gateway. She now serves on the advisory board at UGST. She was named Person of the Year in Missions and Ministry for 2006-2007 by Empire Who’s Who for her work as Ladies Ministries’ President.
Copyright 2015 Gwyn Oakes and Crystal Schmalz Ministries