A Note from Amanda Mejias, Lifeway Girls Brand Specialist: Never in a million years did I think that I would have to start a blog post this way. It has been three weeks since my friend, girls minister, and Lifeway Girls blog team member, Steph Williford met her Savior face-to-face. It was only days before her passing that Steph had sent me this blog post, and I’m honored to share this as her last written contribution on the Lifeway Girls Blog. But while this is her last blog post to share, I wanted you to know that because of who Steph was as a follower of Jesus and champion of teen girls, her legacy will continue to shape and mold all of us here at Lifeway Girls. I am so honored that I knew Steph, learned from her, and loved her as a friend.
Whether or not you knew her personally, I pray that this post would spur you on in your mission to pointing teen girls to Christ. May all of our lives leave a legacy that honored Jesus and His church the way Steph Williford’s life did.
Okay, first off, I laughed at this title. Part of me is like “well duh!” Of course, ministering to girls is different than it is ministering to guys. THANK GOODNESS! But in all honesty, a lot of it is the same! We are all human beings that need Jesus. We are broken in our sin and without hope to get through each day on our own. We need a Savior that radically loves us and gives us an eternal hope. Once we have this eternal hope in Jesus, we need people to walk alongside us to live a life that points others to Jesus.
So yes, people are people. But there is something special about getting to work with teen girls. There are things in this season of their lives that are unique, beautiful, and incredibly sacred. I’ve been doing Girls Ministry for the last 15 years and have learned some things that seem to matter to our girls.
- Go after their hearts! The whole world is. Our hearts are critically important to God. Scripture talks about it all the time! Our hearts are the most deep and private part of our lives. Our hearts are what fuel us. God gave us our passion, joy, and compassion for a reason. We learn to trust God fully when we are praying and asking for God to reveal His heart to us. Constantly encourage your girls to have soft hearts towards the Lord and others. Don’t talk about their behavior and decisions—talk about their hearts’ posture towards the Lord.
- Don’t go after their “feelings”! Our hearts and how we feel are not the same thing. Yes, teenage girls are emotional. Yes, they are hormonal. Yes, they tend to have opinions. Yes, sometimes they are irrational because of all those things. Your goal isn’t to have that night of worship or late-night conversation where everyone is in tears. Your goal is to usher girls into a thriving relationship with their creator. Continue to ask your girls what is guiding their lives? Is it their faith or feelings? Is it their faith or circumstances?
- FOMO is real! Loneliness and feeling left out is a real fear for every young lady. It’s easy to disregard this and make light of it, but it can be crippling. Our girls are desperate for real friendships. Their whole world tells them to look a certain way, act a certain way and be a certain way. Do your best to cultivate a culture of true and authentic friendships. Talk about forgiveness and friendships. Help your girls navigate this!
- Our girls are under attack! The enemy is really good at his job. He is called the Father of Lies. He tells our girls lies about God, about themselves, and about the world around them. Teach our girls how to recognize the lies. Teach our girls how to fight off the lies. Teach our girls how to go into battle. Teach our girls how to arm themselves with truth. Take an inventory of the voices they are listening to and figure out ways to pour more truth into their hearts and minds.
- Point them to Jesus and God’s Word! They need to know how to read God’s Word and apply it to their own lives. They need to know the critical importance of seeking after truth. They need to know from you that it’s not about attendance at church but about their relationship with Jesus. They need to know that God is overjoyed when they come into His Presence! He isn’t wagging his finger in disappointment when they forget to pray. He literally created us to have a relationship with Him.
- Be real with them! They don’t need anyone else who is fake or “trying to be” someone they are not. Be real. Share your struggles, your prayers and things the Lord is teaching you. You are going to make mistakes (don’t be afraid to apologize) and they are too.
- Don’t be afraid to be silly! There is something truly magical about a good playlist. Don’t miss the opportunities to dance around and sing off-key with the girls. Don’t be afraid to talk about the boy with the swoopy hair that they’re all giggling about.
- Laugh a lot! God is the giver of joy! Make sure to be someone who is always excited to see them and makes them smile. Tell funny and embarrassing stories from when you were a teenage girl (let’s be honest, we all have them). Or if you’re like me, embarrassing stories from your current stage of life.
- Special things matter! Take the girls to get a fun smoothie or coffee when you meet. Get cute stationary to write a note about how you are praying for her. Print off the memory verse on a pretty notecard. Make bracelets with their theme verse on it. The details matter!
- Ministry is one big follow up! The most important thing you can do is show up and follow up. When a girl tells you a prayer request—write it down, pray about it and follow up with her about it. Send a text about the soccer game or test she is nervous about to see how it went. When you meet that girl and her mom for the first time—follow up about their visit. Following up on the details of our girls’ lives show them that you truly care…. And I know you truly do.
Ruth Barclay says
It was such a privilege to serve with Stephanie. I learned some very good lessons just by watching how she handled situations. She had so much wisdom and although our student ministry is large, she loved each girl, knew them by name, looked for opportunities to help them grow and learn. I am going to miss her so much. How fitting that she was able to leave us this last lesson. The words are so true and I’ve taken them to heart.
I’m am so thankful for the time I got to serve with Steph. She was a coworker and a friend. She was one of the people God sent to welcome us into Prestonwood and I knew my girl was taken care of. She often encouraged me as a mom to keep after my daughter’s heart.
I miss her dearly.
Thank you Steph for one last word of encouragement to this mom.
Julie Sparks says
What a perfect gift for today! I could hear her laughter and see her smile while reading this.
Susan Choate says
I am blessed to have known Steph and to watch how she loved those girls, including my own. She was truly the GOAT. She did all things to point others to Jesus. I love knowing that she’s walking around heaven with Esther, Deborah, Ruth, Mary, and other great women of faith, but I sure miss her smile.
I love you Steph. I can hear you saying every single word. I don’t know why God gave me the privilege of being under your leadership, but I treasure everything you’ve taught me. I miss you. Thank you 💗
Maria Bower says
PRICELESS GIFT OF WISDOM💕