Rest and Vision
These are two words that are so very important in any community, organization, or ministry. And, yet, seeing those two words may give us pause - even feels slightly awkward. Often strong vision correlates with busyness, lots of activity, and great big plans. Rarely, do I think, we consider rest and vision to go hand in hand.
And, yet, here we are. Since the beginning of the year, as director of Women of Influence - I sensed God telling me to tread carefully and sensitively through this year. Efforts for solitude, reflection, prayer, and studying beckoned me. God had more clarity and wisdom to offer related to vision and mission.
In some ways, although we knew God had called Women of Influence to have an online community across the region - we felt divided. It is not our desire to replace or be another “women’s ministry” for those in the Southern New England region or Assemblies of God ministry network. We are called to encourage, empower, and equip - not for the purpose of a region-wide women’s ministry - but for the purpose of caring for women who lead - and women’s leaders in the local church. This is our desire as Women of Influence, and the desire of the ministry network we are a part of - Southern New England Ministry Network. To do that, we needed to narrow our focus and content.
He called me to a season of rest both personally and in ministry. Out of this season, God has begun to speak, lead, and teach. The leadership training I had personally longed for came directly from the heart of God, then leading me to discover other resources and study regarding leadership.
So, as you may have noticed, Women of Influence has taken a bit of hiatus in our social media community. In the meantime, we have taken the effort to give attention specifically to the women’s leaders of local church women’s ministries through the Assemblies of God.
As we move out of this contemplative and restful season of seeking God’s heart, I believe wholeheartedly that He clearly laid out vision and purpose for the next season of Women of Influence.
The vision is simply this: In everything we do as “Women of Influence”, we will pour resource and care into the women’s leaders of this region. Many of our efforts will focus on women’s ministry leaders, and yet we do believe there is a wider call of encouraging those of you leading in your homes, communities, and workplaces - not just church ministry. We also believe God has led us to champion women in their leadership and vocational callings - whatever that looks like. Whether it be in the home, the church, the workplace, and personally.
Therefore, most of the content and community will be centered on what it means to be a woman who leads and influences others in a challenging culture. Part of this vision is to equip women to lead in a way that is wholehearted. (we have a whole conference coming in November specifically focused on what it means to be and live wholehearted). Soul, gut-level leading of others.
God created women as influencers - as leaders. He is calling us forward and giving us a voice. God believes in and delights in the women He creates. There is a level of brokenness and burden that women in leadership have had to carry. I truly believe God is calling us to shed that brokenness and burden - to release the yoke and weight of others and to take on His yoke which is light and restful. He calls us to freedom - a leadership without fight, competition, or need for recognition. God is calling us to lead in the full uniqueness of how He created us, the ways He has gifted us, and full of the Spirit inside of us.
There are always obstacles, hindrances, and more. For generations, it has not been entirely simple for women both within and outside of the church. But that has been slowly changing for some time, and God continues to bring freedom. For example, the #metoo and #churchtoo movement and conversations are a moment that Christian leadership author and speaker, Ruth Hailey Barton, stated: “we must pay attention to what is a “burning bush moment” for all of us. God is doing something, speaking something the midst - we are to learn from and in many of these public conversations regarding women and women in leadership. Healing and restoration are on the horizon, but we must be willing to participate in the conversation. Accept the challenge and even tension - learning to be who God has called us to be - both men and women. The current public conversations regarding women are just one reason why we believe God is calling us to encourage, empower, equip - to “shore” up each other as women and women who lead.
And, yet, that speaks to the necessity of community. Building one another up, championing each other to be ALL that God has made them to be.
We want to invite all of you to continue and engage in this community of women who lead.
With all of that said, we are excited and will continue to be led by the Spirit of God! You will see content and resource coming from our online forums - but we hope to hear from you as well and the struggles you may face in leading in your community. We also want to invite you to share your own stories through our blog and social media outlets. Email me, the current Women of Influence director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don’t forget to sign up for the conference coming in November!
Women of Influence Director
Southern New England Ministry Network - Women's Ministries