5. Be Healthy.
While every leader needs a support network, no one else should be expected to carry the burden of your emotional health. Use your community for encouragement, accountability, and as a sounding board. Don’t expect them to meet all your emotional needs or to take up an offense on your behalf. Beware of becoming toxic to your friends or potential friends because you live only in your pain. Work through your own emotional wounds from your early life, your family, and your ministry. The healthier you are, the easier it will be for you to develop mutually supportive relationships. In addition, be a good friend to others. Be generous in your support, giving without expectation. Be on the lookout for women leaders who are struggling.
In some ways, it helps to view myself as a sort of foreign missionary. Just as a missionary develops a support base outside of her ministry assignment, I too have worked to develop outside support, even in ministry contexts in my own culture. Any community I find within my ministry is a bonus. A strong support network is a necessity for women leaders. Make sure to set aside time to build your own even as you are ministering to others.
Angie Ward is a leadership teacher, writer, and coach. She and her pastor-husband, two teenaged sons, and one very spoiled beagle live just outside Indianapolis.