In my first few years of ministry, God in his graciousness brought many wise women to cheer me on. Having been in ministry for many years, they were familiar with the joys, the potential stumbling blocks and the perseverance needed for a young woman in ministry.
Some came alongside me and ran in the next lane, equipping and investing in me over coffee each week. Others sat in the bleachers and prayed over me and the ministry before me.
Others came just for a season to lift up my arms and whisper God’s truth in my ear when I grew weary. But all of them cheered above the roar of the crowd, amid the arrows of spiritual warfare and the sowing of fertile ground and helped fix my eyes on Jesus through it all.
If you are a young woman in ministry, or know one, here are a few “cheers” from one woman in ministry to another:
Sharpen your skills (and stay humble)
When I graduated from seminary, I made the mistake of setting aside learning. Soon, I noticed my spirit was becoming prideful and unteachable. During that time, the senior pastor of the church I was serving challenged our staff to read 16 books, log 72 hours of podcasts and attend at least one leadership conference a year. This is a habit I continue each year because what I discovered was that when you learn from those wiser and a little ahead of you in the race, you maintain a posture of humility and teachability—and that makes you a stronger leader. Pride is a fertile ground for failure in leadership. Girl, keep learning more than you teach, listening more than you talk and growing more in your ministry skills every day.
Welcome accountability (and say yes to vulnerability)
There’s nothing more dangerous than a leader who has no one keeping them accountable. Early on a pastor’s wife encouraged me to pray for and invite a few trustworthy, wise women to commit to pray over my ministry and keep me accountable. Sometimes this looked like praying over my ministry goals and other times this looked like walking through a list of accountability questions concerning my spiritual growth; acknowledging sin in my life; and discussing how my mind, heart, spirit and strength were. This kind of accountability requires confidentiality, trust and vulnerability on your part, but girl, trust me when I say your leadership and your ministry will be healthier and more fruitful when you prioritize integrity, honesty and accountability.
Protect your Sabbath (and give yourself permission to rest)
For most staff members, Sunday is a full day of pouring yourself out in ministry. With each year I serve in ministry, I’ve realized the need to find a time other than Sundays to sabbath, a protected time in my week that I can still myself, worship my Lord and rest. This requires preparation, practicing self-control, and prioritizing your ‘yes’ to rest and your ‘no’ to things that can wait. Girl, the Sabbath is a gift from God; protect it as it equips you, in part, for every good work.
Invest in a few (and make it a lifestyle)
As you lead, observe those women in your life that are called to ministry and be their biggest cheerleader. Look for those that are faithful, available and teachable. Create white space in your calendar to gather with them regularly and really invest in their lives. Cheer, don’t compare. As you share life together, share your ministry platforms with them and give them opportunities to learn and grow in their ministry giftedness and skills. Teach them how to be disciple makers. Girl, the invested life is a beautiful ministry model for the young woman in ministry.
The first few years of ministry are full of excitement as you step into your calling. As you shepherd women in Christ, encourage your heart and keep your heart aligned with God’s by holding these verses close: Psalm 78:72, I Corinthians 15:58 and Acts 20:24. And when you taste the first fruits of the harvest, let it be his name that you praise.
Girl, know there is a fellow co-laborer cheering you on.