I remember the moment vividly– it was a Sunday afternoon, and I was sitting in a Starbucks with my husband. It was an hour before I would be interviewed by parents, leaders, and students at a church where I would eventually serve for 14 years and counting. I didn’t know that I would be here that long at the time, but I do remember all the fears and doubts and questions I felt an hour before that meeting.
And there are things I wish I would’ve have known that day and the days/weeks/months that followed that meeting. So here are three quick things I wish someone could have said to me that day before I started girls ministry.
1) You don’t have to be an expert on eating disorders and cutting issues.
I would discover quickly that people in our church felt like a girls minister was the one who was there to save the day for all the girls with eating disorders, sex addictions, and self harm issues. In fact, day one I actually had leaders taking me aside to point out the girls that were in great need of a girls minister. How scary was that for me?! I left church on Sundays and Wednesdays literally in tears in my car because I felt inadequate. How sad that these girls had me! Thankfully, I had some wise people who had taught me that I needed to see myself as a “bridge” instead of the “end of the road” for these girls. I began to meet with our church staff to learn the protocol for helping those in need get the resources they need in times of crisis. I began to meet with area counselors and become familiar with the way they provided care to those who would be going through their programs. And I collected resources that I could provide to families that came to my office for help. Instead of seeing myself as the one stop shop for all crisis counseling, I began to be a gateway to help girls and families find help and resources they needed for the many different trials and difficulties that were outside of my pay grade. This allowed me the opportunity to come alongside of the girls in a spiritual journey as they received the care and treatment that sometimes came from a counselor or a doctor.
2) It’s not all about you!
I thought that it was my objective to be every girl’s favorite girls minister. I wanted everyone to know me and for me to know them. I hosted parties for every grade. I hosted girls night outs where the amount of money and time that I spent was vastly more than the amount of girls that actually showed. I tried to out do each event and make it bigger and better when in reality I was making myself more and more tired. I quickly realized from my supervisor and co-worker that I needed to invest more in the leadership around me and figure out how to empower and equip them because their reach would far exceed my ability to care for all the girls in our student ministry. Maybe you serve at a small church and you have a handful of girls. I would still say to you, that you need to bring other leaders into that care network so that it is a balance of ministry. Don’t make ministry personality driven. Ensure that you are setting up boundaries for yourself and truly modeling discipleship. Help other leaders lead. Also, you need other leaders around you to help bear the load. Some of my sweetest friends in life now are women that knew me when I was first starting out. They came alongside of me and helped me as I helped them. They are my prayer warriors. Quickly make girls ministry about a network of people that are given a unified vision to love on the girls God has brought to your church.
3) Pray and ask God to help you know how to care for the girls, leaders, and families and then do what He says.
Each church has a different story, different culture, and different way of doing things. But each church has the same mandate that God gave us in Titus 2…”encourage the young women to…”.
So how do you do that? You pray. You talk with leaders, parents, and girls to hear what God is and has already been doing before you arrived. And you can always come to Lifeway Girls Ministry. ☺ We are always working on creating resources that help you lead your girls to Christ. Make sure that you are not just bouncing around in your discipleship. Ensure that there is a roadmap for where you are taking girls as they spend their middle school and high school years in discipleship. Help them to know their IDENTITY, SIGNIFICANCE, and PURPOSE is rooted in Christ. Their COMMITMENT is lived out through spiritual disciplines. Don’t hesitate to contact me or Amy Byrd if you want more information about the roadmap we use here at Lifeway Girls. You can reach us at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org