My friend Lori Wilhite runs a pretty awesome site with a few other women in ministry called “Leading and Loving It”. She interviewed me on her site a week ago, and I thought I’d share the interview here in case you missed it:
1. What is your role in ministry/leadership?
My role has changed quite a bit over the years. We have been at Granger Community Church in Northern Indiana for 18 years. In the beginning, my role was clear-cut and easy to define. Over the years, my responsibilities have changed, and now my role has evolved into sort of a harder to define one. When Rob and I signed on in 1992, we were both full-time youth workers here. When our babies came along, I stepped back and my role changed from taking care of other people’s babies to taking care of my own. I always continued doing ministry, just took on what I could in addition to my ever increasing role as a Mommy.
No matter how my role has evolved, my biggest heart and passion has always been for the 3rd world. We are currently working in Southern India, rising up men and women church planters, teaching them to bring the Gospel to the furthest unreached corners of Southern India. I don’t get to go on every trip with Rob, but the last trip we took to India with our entire family this summer put me in the middle of my “sweet spot”. I had the opportunity to gather the stories of Church Planters for a book we will have out later this fall. Traveling to India, writing opportunities like this, writing and editing for Rob, and keeping up my blog weekly are my main ministry roles right now.
2. What is your favorite thing about your role?
Keeping a position of Writer/Editor is something I can do at home, which has definitely paid off in some very positive ways. With Rob’s schedule being unpredictable and usually crazy, I am happy to offer some stability to my kid’s schedule at home. We have gotten to take trips to India as a family a few times. Those trips are hard work, but incredibly rewarding. I am so grateful when our church provides these opportunities for us to serve in a third world country together.
3. What is the most challenging thing?
The invisibility factor-I really (and I mean really) miss being in the middle of things around the church. Being here for my kids is a huge priority, and it helps Rob have peace of mind too…but…I feel left out a lot. Our church is pretty big, so not many people outside of our circle of staff and friends even know who I am, so that’s a blessing and a curse all at once. Blessing because I can fly under the radar at events and see how things work without people polishing up for the pastor…a curse because I feel so connected to this place and its people, it’s hard not to feel like I can just jump into the middle of things and feel included.
4. What do you wish someone had told you before you started in our area of ministry?
I wish someone could have let me know how much my role would change, then change, then change again. Most importantly, I wish someone would have told me to never get my identity wrapped up in what I do instead of who I am. I wish I could have known early on that the way God has gifted me, and the places He would take me with that gift were very unique, and I should never compare my gifts to someone else’s gifts or abilities. I would have been saved a lot of frustration if I had known that and believed it to my core 18 years ago.
5. What do you wish others knew about your area?
I think it must look to others like I am not really doing much to serve at GCC. All of the other pastor’s wives have a much more visible role, like singing on stage or teaching kids on the weekends. People don’t see me in action too much. Just because I am not up front, or at every meeting whenever the church doors are open doesn’t mean I’m not 100% committed to the mission and vision of GCC. I’ve never felt judged by anyone about this. Mark Beeson and his wife Sheila have said to me from day 1 years ago to just be who God made me to be, and serve out of whatever capacity He has gifted me for. I am so very thankful for this. (Kids ministry would send me to an early grave).
6. How has God used your leadership to grow and change you?
Outside of being a wife and Mommy to 3 girls, I would say that this role has shaped and changed me more than anything. When we came to GCC, I was only 19. Our whole lives were ministry. It’s everything we’ve ever known. To me, there is nothing I’d rather be doing than laying down my life for Jesus, and men and women of our community. I think more than anything, leadership and ministry has taught me that life is not about me, but about bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth as it is in Heaven. I’d give up my life for that all over again for His cause.
7. If you could pass one little piece of wisdom to someone else in the same leadership role, what would it be?
Well if there is another Pastor’s Wife/ Writer/ Editor/ Traveler to India / Mom / lover of chocolate covered peanuts somewhere in the world, I would say to her, that she is awesome and special, and uniquely and creatively gifted by God on purpose and for a purpose. I would also tell her to eat lots of chocolate and drink as much coffee as possible, mixed with an occasional energy drink.
Ministry is not for the faint of heart, no matter what your role is! When you are married to a talented husband who is driven to accomplish all Rob has, it usually means he is driven in lots of ways on the home front as well. Rob has more energy than I did as a teenager. It’s hard keeping up with him, but always fun and rewarding.
I would also say to buckle your seatbelt, because the adventures God will take you on will exceed your wildest expectations.
8. How do you make sure that integrity is being maintained in your leadership?
Rob and I have a great relationship. He can tell when I am getting off balance, and helps me re-focus from time to time. I also have a great friend and mentor who has been a pastor’s wife for over 40 years. Her husband is a well known author and preacher. They’ve been down every road imaginable in ministry. I love her, and cherish our friendship, as I can confide in her with a lot of issues I am dealing with when it comes to my personal leadership and integrity issues. On a daily basis, I pray, read the Bible, and try to keep a sense of humor. I also have a great group of friends who I can talk to and laugh with.
9. How do you develop other leaders? How do you grow and develop in your leadership?
My leadership multiplication strategy is pretty simple. I believe that one of the ways people learn to lead best is from following other people’s stories. The tag line on my personal blog is “Living on Purpose, Writing on Purpose.” I live my life in a way that others can see patterns and an example of what it means to be a Godly woman. My Twitter and Facebook strategies are the same. Live my life wide open for others to see and hopefully they will find Jesus there, chiseling away at my core, making himself more and more known to others through me every day. This includes my online presence, and of course the friendships I maintain in my neighborhood, the kids’ schools, and in our community.
The small groups that I lead from time to time are lead in the same way. I lead them life on life. I learn from my friends as they learn from me. Jesus is at work in all of us. I feel like my job in developing leaders around me is to help others see where he is at work in their lives if they don’t see it already.
11. How do you meet the needs specific to the people in your town, city, circle of influence?
I’m a friend to anyone who needs one. Rob thinks I am crazy, but really, there is no one I can’t call a friend, (except if they start trash-talking my husband).
Practically speaking, one of the many ways I live this out is being the Kool-Aid Mom. Almost all of the Mom’s in our area work full or part time, so I show them friendship by welcoming their kids into our home when they don’t have babysitters, or if they just need a break. Even when our kids are teenagers, I hope their friends will always feel welcome at our house.