Our ministry is only as strong as the leaders God has placed in the lives of our students. A couple of weeks back I asked our Girl’s Ministry Intern, Nicole Barker, to write a blog about her heart for Girl’s Ministry. I’ve posted the blog below – please take time to read the full post, but get to know Nicole:
5 Things you should know about me:
- Fun Facts: I am a UM grad, my favorite color is mustard seed yellow and I traveled with Voices for 3 years
- Truth: I have never written a blog before so my boyfriend will be the one to grammatically proof this piece
- My Heart: I have a passion to invest in the next generation of young women and train them in godliness
- I Enjoy: a good cup of coffee, journaling, singing, adventures, hiking, songwriting and crafting
- I am learning: that my greatestfears only come to life so that I will learn to fear Him MOST.
Parents and Girls, consider your mentoring relationships. Are there people in your life intentionally pouring into you? Paul gave this charge: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Who are you following that’s pointing you to Jesus?
You know that warm and deep connection that seems to fall over you as you and your dear friend sit and share a heart to heart…filled with laughter, tears and “eeeps” of joy!!! An hour may pass by and we don’t even realize it?! Women were uniquely designed by God with a desire to connect. Consequently, lack of connectivity is also something we fear…abandonment, loneliness …I am thinking of that scene in Les Mis where Eponine walking down a dark alleyway in the rain singing…”On my own.” What a sorrowful moment as she tries to embrace her aloneness! Sometimes we may feel like Eponine but feelings must always submit to TRUTH. We must fix our mind on Him. He comforts us in our aloneness and if we walk with Him we NEVER go anywhere alone. His Word shares with us an unbreakable promise that He will never leave us, forsake us or fail us. In the Breaking Free Bible Study, Beth Moore reminds her reader of Isaiah 43:7 that says “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made,” only to conclude that “God’s glory is how He shows who He is.” He shows who He is by designing us in such a way that we need connection. (that is why after Jesus was crucified, buried, rose again three days later, then a few weeks later descended into heaven…He sent us the Holy Spirit…to be our Greatest Comforter!!!) He gave us the Holy Spirit so that we can have a connection to God! First and foremost, God is the one our hearts long to connect with. Secondly, just as Pastor Ed mentioned a few Sundays ago, the disciples built community with one another through fellowship and prayer (Acts 2:42); Sisters, we are called to do the same.
Pause: Take a moment right now and ask the Holy Spirit to transform and renew your mind. Give Him permission to sift through the words and speak to your heart. I know He has something in store for each of you as you read this. Let us soak up Truth together.
What is holding you back from building relationships with your sisters in Christ?
A reason we fear building relationships with other women is that…
- We FEAR other women
Let’s define fear really quick. When we fear God we choose to acknowledge Him for who He is and who He says we are. Sadly, much of the time we choose to place our trust in mans fickle opinion that can change like the wind depending on the emotional, physical and mental state of the person…Wow!… That is SO unreliable but an easy to fall into. I have recently been reading Fear and Faithwhere author Trillia Newbell tells her reader that we fear of other women through the lends of comparison. “Why can’t I have (fill in the blank) like her?” Our lack of contentment can lead to judgment. Matthew 7:2 tells us we will be judged the same measure with which we use to judge. Now that’s a heavy dose of reality! Trillia’s objective is to combat comparison with encouragement. Not merely complimenting but encouraging… pointing out things that you see that resemble Jesus Christ in the other person. After all, giving encouragement is not even about the other person; it’s all about giving glory to God. Next time you and I want to make a snarky comment about one of our sisters let’schoose to remember that they have also been fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. We can combat the temptation to fear other women because the Holy Spirit empowers us. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, (read the following out loud) “For the old (your name) is gone and the new (your name) has come!” I can assure you, comparison has no reward. So let’s make it our goal to live confidently in the power of God by speaking with gracious speech (Colossians 4:6).
- We FEAR vulnerability
How come what we fear to do is what we wish to see in others? In order to be vulnerable we must be transparent. Lack of transparency stunts connection. We can easily discern whether someone is being genuine or simply putting on a good face. Let’s be honest, the South is full of “bless your hearts” but not all of them come from a place of compassion. Jesus was vulnerable, just check out Matthew 26:36-38, where he tells his brothers the condition of his soul right before his journey to the cross. Isaiah 53 tells us that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with hardship. Take a moment and let the Spirit search your heart. ASK the Holy Spirit “What hinders my desire to connect with my sisters in Christ on a deeper level?” He might show you that you have been hurt and you need God to heal your heart towards your sisters so that you can learn to trust again. Vulnerability is a foundational block that helps build trust. When we become transparent enough we open up to a place where we can share not just our commonalities, but our stories of redemption. A few weeks ago, I went to an older friend that I felt I could just go cry to, not expecting anything but a hug. Little did I know that within a few minutes, my tears of brokenness would cause our stories to collide? I learned that she too had experienced a similar hardship five years prior. She not only comforted me but committed to walk with me through my trial. In the healing process, she has helped me to have God’s perspective on the matter. We all have something to offer each other in the body of Christ. PS. It is the people around you…so you do not have to look that far. Christ was willing to connect with his disciples. Let’s do life like Jesus!
- We FEAR rejection
We fear that once we are vulnerable, we will not be accepted. I am sure you have heard at some point that the #1 fear in America is public speaking. Psychologists conclude that the fear of Public speaking is directly tied to fear of rejection. No one likes to feel the weight of rejection and we try to avoid it at all costs. The opposite of rejection is acceptance. Acceptance is something that drives us to “blend in”…blending into the world’s standards of dress, attitude, what’s trending, mindset… NO, my dear sisters, if you have accepted Jesus as Lord of your life, the scriptures tell us in 2 Corinthians 2:16 that we share the mind of Christ. How we used to think about ourselves and others is changed because of Jesus! May our desire be to “Accept one another just as Christ has accepted you.” –Romans 15:7 Jesus Christ accepted my dirty, far-gone, selfish soul and “bought me back with the riches of His amazing grace and relentless love.” …and I cannot accept ”Suzy Q” to my right because she has an accent, or isn’t as talented as my other friends? God gave us the gift of acceptance and expressed it through His love. According to Ephesians 1:6, He has made us accepted in the Beloved. If you are struggling to accept one of your sisters in Christ, do something really hard… I challenge you to pray for (her or them) every day for the next few days and I guarantee the attitude of your heart will change. (if you do not choose to pray…your heart will remain in its negative bent) YOLO: just try it.
He not only calls us to build our relationships through encouragement, vulnerability and acceptance. He has also given us means to choose godly counsel to further our understanding and walk with Him. Proverbs 15:31-33 shares with us some insight to why it is beneficial to seek godly counsel. “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.”
Take a moment with me and help me recall some attributes of a godly woman… she is reverent in behavior, self controlled, submissive, pure, a homemaker, kind, teaches what is good, who is not a slanderer, one who trains young women to love their families (that is just Titus 2:3) Then you have the Proverbs 31 women… she is trustworthy, she does good, she develops a trade, she provides, she is strong, creative and thrifty, she reaches out to the poor, she speaks with wisdom, she laughs at the future and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Then you read about women in the Bible… those who were hospitable, who spoke truth, imitated humility, served the Lord with gladness, displayed true beauty and feared the Lord…. GOODNESS that is a lot. Only by His grace has He imparted the gift of sanctification. As we choose Him, He makes us more like Himself and who he has called us to be. These characteristics are not strictly defined so really we cannot limit them or call them invalid because they are written to encourage us to live in community with one another. I am sure these women who possessed some of these characteristics did not just have pixey dust sprinkled over them and suddenly they exemplified these values…they must have watched someone’s example, built community with other women, sat under the counsel of an older, wiser, trusted women. I believe that God also wants us to seek counsel.
Titus 2:3 commands “older women to teach younger women.” If you are a senior in Highschool…let me ask… who are you discipling? sharing God’s faithfulness with? challenging to grow deeper in Jesus? praying with on a weekly basis? In reverse, who is teaching you to walk in kindness and reminding you that a woman who fears the Lord will be praised?
(I am mainly addressing Juniors and Seniors who might want to consider the benefits of allowing your small group leader, your mom, or “the woman of God” you admire mentor you.)
Benefits of a mentoring/discipling relationship
- See a different angle. (Jesus was always looking at circumstances through His Fathers eyes)
- Experience Christ-centered community (in God’s eyes, community is essential)
- Share in sufferings. (to see the hand of God through the trial)
- Prayer (to draw closer to Him in the secret place) #build a warroom
- Accountability (to be sharpened by the Word of God)
Take the movie “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!” Let’s take a closer look…Yes, they were all friends…but really these girls lives were so different from step parents, soccer camp, traveling to Greece, to working a Walmans…Truly, the only thing that connected them was “the pants.” …How much MORE in common do we have with our sisters who share the mind of Christ, have a passion for the things of God, the Gospel and learning what it means to be a women of God???!!! We are daughters of our Heavenly Father and He simply wants us to know Him more through a personal relationship and community with other believers.