Vulnerability. Transparency. Authenticity. Words so trail-blazing a scant decade ago are now on the verge of becoming little more than the latest ingredients in a cookie-cutter formula for producing modern-day Christian leaders.
Why would I make such an audacious claim? Because these terms are so ingrained in the day-to-day language of current church development that we're losing sight of the fact that how these God-honoring truths are applied is far more important than merely applying them.
Getting raw and real isn't a one-size-fits-all leadership track where we encourage everyone to admit they're flawed, pat each other on the back for being honest, and sing contemporary worship songs to drive home the point that we're different from previous generations.
Never is this need for distinction so clearly evident as it is when raising up a women's ministry team.
Although the triune concept of vulnerability, transparency, and authenticity may be a relatively new approach to ministry leadership, women have been battling against these tendencies for decades. For numerous years we've been taught that vulnerability in particular is a close cousin to that killer of female success in ministry–emotions.
Of course, we have excellent role models for how to be both strong yet vulnerable women of faith, through the likes of such teachers as Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, and others, but these examples are at the 50,000-foot level.
Does that same winning combination translate down in the trenches of day-to-day ministry?
As I discovered firsthand, getting women in leadership to travel to the land of vulnerability was never the real challenge. Guiding them to uncharted territory on the other side was.
Into the Fray
When the Lord called me to step into the gaping leadership hole left at the heart of our church's women's ministry, there were two vital truths I carried with me–ministry is tough and women cry.
Due to a staffing shortage, the women leading this ministry had been left without an assigned pastor to shepherd them for some time and were now reaching a critical mass. The battle for internal control was crippling their ability to produce fruit for the Kingdom.
God called me to wade into these troubled waters in no uncertain terms. I'd be lying if I said I didn't give it a second thought. I had enough on my plate as the pastoral team member overseeing administration and operations, as well as developing a growing marriage ministry team.
But the Lord called and I obeyed. I didn't enter in strategizing about how I could be an authentic person or show my vulnerable side. I didn't fret about what they would think or how I would come off. I dove into the fray on my spiritual knees, begging him for wisdom, grace, and discernment. I simply trusted God to sort it all out. I understood that I was just one of his vessels, and whatever was in me that needed to come out in the process of helping these women grow as leaders was his to use.