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How I Found a Support Network

5 ways I formed a group of women leaders around me

Even if you manage to find friends in your church who view you as an equal, those friends could still one day decide to leave your church, thus potentially changing the friendship as well. I have had several close friendships that have changed significantly when these friends left my church. They didn’t have a problem with my husband or me, but their departure changed the dynamics of our friendship because we didn’t see each other as often and no longer had the same church community.

Form a Community Around You

How do you go about finding safe community when there may not be many women leaders in your church in the first place, and the relationships you do find are subject to organizational dynamics?

1. Diversify.

This principle is the most important. Do not put all of your support and relational eggs into one basket. This was my biggest, most harmful mistake in my early ministry. I thought I would find one or two friendships from within my church that could provide all the support I needed. I found out the hard way that this was a very unfair and unhealthy expectation.

So, diversify. Your primary support network should come from outside your current ministry. Look for leaders from other ministries in your town, and look beyond your current locale. Build enough strands into your support web so that if one strand breaks, you still have plenty of support. You may find support people from among those who know you from previous ministry, from other ministries around the country, or from seminary or college. The majority of people in my support community know me as just “Angie” and not as “Pastor” or “Leader” or “Boss.” What happens in my ministry has no bearing on whether they will remain my friends or supporters. I do have a few support people within my current ministry, but the majority of the weight is carried by those outside.

2. Be Creative.

In addition to looking in a variety of places for your support network, be creative about how you connect with those people. Face-to-face conversations are always preferable but not always possible. Use Skype or FaceTime, texting, email, or old-fashioned phone calls. A relationship with one of my mentors has been developed and maintained primarily via email, our conversation continuing via long electronic letters every few weeks. When I worked at a Christian camp in the middle of the wilderness, our director’s lifeline was a monthly phone call with three other camp directors around the country who had met at a camping conference. Go places where you can meet other women leaders, and figure out creative ways to stay in touch.

June20, 2017 at 11:47 AM

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