The answer is yes they can and yes we do… Because we are human we can make wrong choices in positions of leadership, it happens every day in churches everywhere. This should never be the norm for you, it should be a rare occurrence because Christ our loving example did not ever abuse His position of leadership.
This article is written specifically to married women that are in ministry beside their husbands, those that have followed their husband as he was called to a specific place and position. Those that have a special opportunity to serve beside their husbands in God’s work in His church.
10 Signs You Could Be Abusing Your Leadership in Ministry
1. By having a high and mighty attitude.
Proud folks with a high and mighty attitude push people away. You are not better than anyone else because of the position you are in, or who you are married to. Women in ministry can be too proud to serve certain people because they look different, have more or less money, or have weird quirks about their personality. They can also bear a self-righteous heart when dealing with people who are living in sin.
We often forget where we came from because God has brought us to a new place in our lives that seems “safe” and protected from worldly influences. Remember that all ground is equal at the foot of the cross! Salvation comes to all people the same way, your sin placed Christ on the cross as much as the lady on the pew in front of you with her outward sin in view.
Humble yourself if you find pride and self-righteousness living in your heart and forsake the high and mighty attitude.
Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
2. By not passing the praise to God or those who have helped.
God has helped us all get to where we are in life and has enabled us to have the talent and abilities that we have. When we do a work for God and someone compliments us we should always pass the praise! We also need to acknowledge publicly other people who have helped us with the project.
For example, if someone compliments your cooking, pass the praise to your Mom or Grandma that taught you to cook or tell them where you received the recipe. If someone compliments your teaching, tell them about a teacher that influenced your teaching.
You can also practice this when you compliment others. When you compliment someone on their preaching you can pass the praise to God first then thank them. “God really used that message to speak to my heart. Thank you for being so willing to preach the whole counsel of God.”
Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger and not thine own lips.
3. By meddling and not letting the pastor or other ministry leaders lead their ministry.
Point people to the pastor or the leaders of a ministry if they come to ask you questions. You may know the answer but you are not responsible for taking the ministry leader’s place. Let the leader handle the workers or parents instead of you. This may save you from many headaches and heartaches!
4. By choosing not to forgive.
This is a tough-y! It is hard to look at someone who hurt you (whether they have done it on purpose or not) and let go. We can harbor fear, anger, and unforgiveness toward those that show no remorse for the offenses they have caused and carry it around for years as a burden. God knows each situation we have endured and desires that we grant forgiveness toward those that trespass against us.
At times it would be simpler to ignore people and let them live their life on their side of the church and you live yours on the other side of the church. Inevitably because church life is always changing there will be times you will have to interact with the offender and deal with them whether you want to or not. Choosing to forgive them will release your expectation of them asking for forgiveness if they have not or changing (and they may not).
A good help if you have trouble with forgiveness, is to expect offenses and purpose in your heart that the next thing that someone does wrong toward you that you will forgive them. Preparing the heart to forgive helps tremendously for us to be able to forgive when the time comes, (and they will!).
Along the same lines, do not begin your own smear campaign toward those that have wronged you telling people in your church about the faults and wrong-doings of others. It breaks trust when people hear you sinning against others.
5. By making assumptions.
Don’t assume what you should do or how you should do it, ask! Consider this, women do not know it all! (Gasp!) There is the possibility that you may assume responsibility over something without actually having permission. Some believe that it is better to ask forgiveness than it is to ask for permission but is that really true? Even God desires that his children ask Him for things, and likewise the pastor and leadership of your church.
When Israel gained victory from the Lord in the battles of the Old Testament it was when their leaders enquired of Him what they should do. They asked Him for permission to go into battle and He would show them how He wanted them to attack. Several times when they assumed they could go into battle without enquiring of the Lord, it cost thousands of lives. It never hurts to ask God or your husband or your pastor what you should be doing and how they want it done.
Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
Don’t assume someone will help or do something, ask! We should never come to a place in our ministry life where we simply assign people to ministries without first seeking the Lord and asking them for a commitment. You like it when someone asks you to be involved instead of telling you that you are going to be, right? Most people like to say YES, so let them have the opportunity to make the decision. Do not make the decision for someone (even if they’re your best friend or adult child) to serve or take part in something without first talking with them about it first.
Courtesy demands that we give the person we might normally sign-up for the job an option to say no. We cannot bully people into places of service or obligate them to something they may not be able to do. So ask and wait and see what God does!
6. By being ungrateful.
Be a leader in thankfulness! Yes, writing thank you cards can get old and boring after a while but make it a fun thing for you and your family to write and hand out thank you notes. With books, quotes, and the internet you can learn to make cute and creative thank you’s. Create a notebook of thankful quotes that will be available to you when you can not think of the words to say. Send a photo of you using the item that someone gave you, your husband, or your children and say, “Billy loves his new soccer ball, thanks again!”
Be quick about saying thank you when you receive a gift whether it is expected or unexpected. “Oh thank you so much for thinking of me, that really made my day!” People like to know that they are loved and appreciated especially when they are making you feel loved and appreciated. The longer we delay our thanks the more people will assume that the gift given did not mean much to you.
I Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
7. By not using discretion.
Saying too much about what you know and revealing secrets can hurt people. Church members will probe you for answers about situations but it is not always your place to disclose private information. We have to be careful not to even accidentally reveal facts about situations that other should not know about.
Ask God to give you discretion if you do not know what you should say or when to say it and He will give you the wisdom to know the difference. Remembering the “Thumper Rule” is good, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” but remembering the Golden Rule is better, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Matthew 7:12
8. By being manipulative.
One of Merriam Webster’s online dictionary definitions for the word manipulation is: to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious (a chance to entrap) means especially to one’s own advantage.
Throwing fits, using silent treatment, deceitfully pulling strings to have things be your way (among many other ways) is manipulation. Women can be the master of manipulation just to get what they want. They treat people however they want, they flatter, they create expectations and make demands and if the expectations and demands are not met then you better believe the person will pay up through some retaliation of a physical or emotional nature.
Manipulation is a betrayal of trust, once discovered by church members it can become an offense to them and their spiritual life. Truly selfish people manipulate to maintain control over others and stay in their own comfort zone. The root of manipulation is pride and goes hand in hand with having a high and mighty attitude.
Manipulation in regard to our husband, whether he is also our pastor or not, can undermine his God-given authority. Enslaving our husband to manipulation and consequences for not doing things our way keeps him from the freedom of following the Lord’s leading in His life. Our husband should never fear that we will cause retaliation against him for being obedient to God. Proverbs 31:12 says about the virtuous woman toward her husband, “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”
We cannot have our way each and every time (another Gasp!) whether it deals with our husband as the pastor or our church members. It can be inconvenient but we cannot demand our rights as servants of a Saviour that gave up everything to come and serve and die for us. Repent each moment your realize you are manipulating and humble yourself to the Lord’s leadership.
9. By making the ministry dependent upon us and not allowing others to help.
Many church ministries are disabled because those in full-time service assume all the responsibilities and will not share or delegate them. They become martyrs because they hoard the work upon their shoulders and will not allow others to participate.
If you find that others are asking you what they can do to help and your response is “Oh nothing, I’ve got it.” every single time then you’re doing God and yourself a disservice. The Bible says that each church body has members and each member has a particular place where they are to work and participate to make the body function. (I Corinthians 12) You may know how to do it all and you may be good at it, but share the work so that others can have the blessing of being able to take part and make God’s work run.
How often ministry women cry when no one will help them but they have pushed their help away instead of training up the next generation. In the ministry God can call us to another church or another place and we may leave the church we are working in behind, who will be there to stand in your place if you leave? Will there be anyone? Will there be a handful of people who would be able to step up to a new role of responsibility? Always be working to create jobs for others to have a part in God’s work.
10. By being a whiner.
Whiners with a “poor me” attitude do not receive respect. We cannot whine to get people to help us without eventually driving them away. Do not make people feel obligated to help you because of pity.
People appreciate people who are real and admit their faults and the problems they need help with. For instance, “I did not make contact with the workers about nursery tonight, would you be willing to help?” Rather than, “3 people cancelled and it’s been the worst day ever for me, I just don’t think I could handle being in the nursery one more time. It will be my 5th time this month, man oh man, I don’t know what I am going to do. Would you pleeeeeeease help me?”
Are there times when we are tired and we just feel like the nursery worker that cancelled dumped us so they can go out on the town and a load of bricks fall upon our shoulders? Sure! This does not neglect our feelings but sometimes our feelings must go on the back burner so that we can face the facts and deal with the issue. Our emotions do not always have to be the motivating factor to get others to help us. We have a great God that can strengthen us for any task that must be required of us. If you do end up doing nursery for the 5th time in the month then ask God what His purpose is for allowing it and how you can be a blessing to those you are serving.
No more whining! Be real. Be honest. Ask the Lord for strength.
Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage , and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
1. Sadie walked through the hallway at church and as she passed Mrs. Campbell, the pastor’s wife, she heard “Oh, you better not come near me since you stir up all kinds of trouble around here.” Sadie skirted around her and walked into the church auditorium and slumped into her chair on the back row. Her eyes welled up with tears as she felt rejection from her pastor’s wife. Her anger was directed unfairly, Mrs. Campbell assumed she knew the story about what happened between her and Melanie, another woman in the church. Sadie sighed heavily and wished her family could go to church elsewhere because Mrs. Campbell kept telling other ladies things about her that were not true. She began to despise coming to church and even this morning she had tried to find excuses not to come. If only Mrs. Campbell had approached her with an open heart and gave her a chance to explain what really happened with Melanie…
Mrs. Campbell abused her leadership in 2 ways:
A. By having a high and mighty attitude. Mrs. Campbell placed herself above Sadie before she even spoke the unkind words to Sadie in the hallway.
B. By not using discretion. Speaking out loud in a church hallway is not a place to deal with situations, this would have caused other church members to look and pay attention to Sadie. Mrs. Campbell also displayed a lack of discretion by speaking to other ladies about Sadie and Melanie’s problem instead of coming straight to her about it. Many problems in this scenario could have been prevented if Mrs. Campbell had used discretion and kept her thoughts to herself.
2. Renee just sang her special in church and it came out beautifully, just as she had practiced. The pianist, Julie, had practiced with her for 2 weeks before and after services. She was so thrilled that it was her most comfortable time to sing in front of others and that she did not even seem nervous. After church a few people came to tell her how the song had touched their hearts Renee said, “Thank you, that was my best yet, wasn’t it? I just love singing in front of people!”
Renee took the praise for herself and did not acknowledge God or Julie for helping her.
3. Jolene looked down in the bulletin at the nursery schedule and saw she was scheduled to work with Debbie again. Ugh, she hated working with Debbie because of her loud cackle of a laugh and her weird smell. Jolene looked around and tried to think of an excuse and a person to trade with so they could work with Debbie instead. She spotted Kelsey across the auditorium and would talk to her after the service about trading. Kelsey owed her a favor so she was confident that she could get this worked out.
Jolene had a high and mighty prideful attitude about working with Debbie. Yes, there are people who would not be our first choice to work with but we should never assume that we cannot learn from or help someone because they are different.
She also seemed to be being manipulative because Kelsey “owed” her. If she had been able to trade she would have been successful at getting her own way by not serving in the nursery with Debbie.
4. Pastor Mitchell approached his wife Carrie and asked her, “Did you tell Samantha she could help in the nursery?” “Yes, I did, she’s a great helper, I didn’t think it would be a problem,” she looked at him plainly. Pastor Mitchell said, “Did you know she is in 6th grade and our policy is that only high school aged girls can help in the nursery?” “She’ll be fine,” Carrie stated. Pastor Mitchell sighed and told his wife, “You will have to tell Samantha she will not be able to help until she is in high school. I wish you had talked to me about that before you told her she could.” Carrie rolled her eyes and thought, “every time I try to help our ministries I always get in trouble…”
Carrie made one wrong choice that lead to several others. She assumed! Just by assuming Carrie slipped down a slippery slope of disrespecting her husband’s position as the pastor. She took it upon herself to approve a young lady that was not qualified, according to church policy, to serve in the nursery. This situation with Samantha could have been easily avoided if Carried had just asked first. Her attitude toward her husband was a reflection of her unsubmissive heart toward his authority as her husband and as her pastor.
As women, we should always be in submission to the authority of our husbands. If your husband or pastor has appointed you to be “head” over or “in charge of” a ministry then you are always accountable to them for how you lead and organize the ministry whether it is being the Nursery Coordinator, a Sunday School teacher, a Children’s Choir Director, or even cleaning and janitor work. Churches also often create policies to protect people from legal consequences, and whether you think they are dumb or not it is always best to follow them.
Ministry women can avoid these 10 abuses of leadership by maintaining their walk with God. There are times we will find ourselves guilty of one or all of these, but it should never be something we are doing on purpose. If these violations of trust are something you do on a regular basis toward those in your church then you need to examine your heart. Confess each and every time you commit them and make things right by asking for forgiveness to those you commit a wrong against. Make a conscious effort (repentance) not to abuse your position then move on with grace.
God’s plan for women in the ministry are to build up and edify the Lord’s work as they labor beside their husbands in the church God placed them in. We have the ability to make God’s house the best place we can, just like our homes, creating the church to be a haven from the world for the visitors and members of our churches. Construct trust by building your character and removing sin from your life. God will use you if you will yield your will and life to His leading.