When asked to head up a new division of our Women’s Ministry I was terrified that I couldn’t cut it and really, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted anything to do with it. There’s a stigma out there about Women's Ministry, if you didn’t already know. Young Ladies like myself tend to conjure up ideas of bake sales, and mentor round ups; we tend to think Women's Ministry is stale without substance. So when I was faced with the challenge of leaving Youth Ministry and joining our Women’s team, I was haunted by questions….
Will the ladies expect me to wear stockings? I never wear them!
I’m not the most poised lady in the whole world, does that matter?
Do older ladies like jokes? Will I seem irreverent to them?
Basically, will they accept me for who I am?
Despite my anxieties about this new and unknown world, I decided to plunge head first into the murky waters of cross-generational ministry. After 4 years I can tell you I have found a hidden jewel! However, I get it…. If you were born after 1982 hat parades and fashion shows may not be for you, but if you get over your hipster vibe, you may find some surprising benefits to joining a Women’s Ministry.
The first thing I encountered with these ladies was a wealth of wisdom that typically comes with age! Why limit yourself to people in your age group that are right where you are? Find someone who has been there, done that, and perfected their form within the 20-year gap between your ages. Yesterday I spoke to a mother of three, an empty nester whose kids are all flourishing. For a young mother like myself this is akin to hiking Mount Everest; the greatest feat one can fulfill in their line of duty! I wish that I could download her experiences and incorporate her wisdom. The great thing about Women’s Ministry is, I can do just that! She is here for me; she is cheering me on and she’s one my side!
One of the greatest discoveries I’ve made about Women’s Ministry is that these ladies are willing to give of themselves! Many older women have greater resources than we do. I'm not simply talking about financial resources (which by the way can be an added bonus! If someone is kind enough to meet your needs), rather I’m referring to the resource of time. I recently sat down to coffee with a 73-year old woman. She shared her hopes and dreams and what she wished she would have done differently. We prayed, we cried and not once did she glance at me from a phone glued to her hand! We spent two and a half hours together and she gave me 100% of her attention; no text messages, no tweets or snaps, just one on one human conversation! How refreshing is that?
Last week I spoke with a woman who prays for me daily! She literally calls me by name before the Lord revisiting my specific prayer request and actually follows up with me! She is one among many prayer warriors I’ve discovered in this ministry. I hate to admit sometimes I’m so busy I forget to bring anyone’s name before the Lord let alone myself. But what a blessing it is that I can lean on the sacrifice of time spent in prayer by my sisters, aunts, mothers and grandmothers in Christ.
I am currently about 8.5 months pregnant with my third child. I can barely walk let alone see my toes! I went shopping a couple of weeks ago for some sensible, load baring shoes then I realized I had a problem! I couldn't get them on my feet let alone fasten them. In walks a senior lady from our day time Bible Study. She got down on her hands and knees to place my shoes on my feet! Now that is servanthood! She gives me an example worth following!
Not only do the ladies in Women’s Ministry tend to give of their time and service, they also love to give good food! Let’s be honest, Millennials are known for being extremely busy and cooking often takes a back seat to our careers and education. If you have yet to experience the cornucopia of tasty treats many of our elders prepare for small groups and meetings alike, then you are missing out! If you’re lucky enough you may even get home made banana pudding delivered to your home or soup and tea when you’re sick! One lady gave me a cooler full of home-cooked frozen meals because she knew how much I had on my plate!
The last discovery I’ve made on my journey is that the Joy of the Lord embodied by the older ladies in my ministry is downright infectious! Do you need your spirits lifted? Watch an 80- year old woman do 10 push-ups on stage for a sermon illustration. (Yes this actually happened!) Each Tuesday morning our Women’s bible study gets up and dances around to “Happy” by Pharrell. The greet each other with holy kisses and have a blast! Is it a little corny? ….Maybe, but watch the joy that flows from ladies who have been down and out, high and low and yet have still come out standing.
Looking back at this new journey of mine I couldn’t be more thrilled that I pushed past my own stereotypes of Women’s Ministry. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that cross-generational ministry is without flaw, without the mundane or without mess, but what I can tell you is that if you have cut out the experience of fellowship with other Women, (young and old) you are dismissing one of God’s greatest gifts to the church. You may be missing out on that nugget of truth only a woman who has walked in your shoes can give. You will certainly miss out on good food, laughter and godly encouragement. But most importantly you’ll be missing out on fulfilling the mandate to “Be devoted to one another with mutual love” Romans 12:10