I’ve been in vocational ministry for more than twenty years. And when I consider the additional years of leading Bible studies or being involved in Bible studies, I can quickly date myself as someone who is now considered a seasoned leader. It’s easy for me to slip into a conversation that begins, “I remember when,” or “We used to do it this way.”
As I started thinking about how easy it is to slip into a tirade of the “good ol’ days”, I decided to do a quick Google search on quotes about nostalgia. Some were pretty funny and some hit a little too close to home. One quote from Pete Hamill said, “The only way to fight nostalgia is to listen to somebody else’s nostalgia.”1 I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on both ends of this quote. At times I wish things were how they used to be, but listening to someone else long for the past can sometimes be nothing short of annoying.
Remembering the past isn’t always bad, and I can make a pretty good argument for it being biblical. It’s good to remember God’s faithfulness and to trace His hand through the pages of our spiritual journey. But it’s also wise to have an understanding of the present. It’s good to consider how we move forward. I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Philippians when he wrote, “Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13b-14).
Wise leaders should pursue the goal of moving forward and looking ahead. Staying relevant is a continual process that never ends for the leader who wants to connect with women and be successful in ministry. So, how can you be a leader who stays current on today’s matters and has a vision for the future? Here are a few things to consider.
What are you reading? A leader who desires to stay current reads books, articles, blogs, and even social media posts. I’m currently reading a new book on working with different generations on your team, and I’m also preparing for an upcoming international trip. I subscribe to several emails that are a combination of ministry, leadership, and business articles. Variety and different viewpoints help me get a big picture of current issues and the world around me.
Besides reading, you could also include ways you are listening. Subscribe to different podcasts that will not only entertain but educate you about new practices or trends. Again, listen to a variety of voices that stretch you to think and to learn. In addition to podcasts, consider free webinars or online opportunities for you to learn.
Consider what you’re reading and what you’re listening to as ways to “intake” information. Leaders should also consider staying current in the ways they “engage” with the world. Take a moment to ask yourself these questions:
Who am I following?
What friends am I learning from?
Is someone older speaking into my life?
Is someone younger teaching me something new?
Do I have a peer who challenges me to keep learning?
What networks of people am I connected with who keep me current?
Am I attending conferences or engaging in ways that stretch my leadership?
As you consider these questions, does one area stand out that is absent from your current relationships? Incorporate various people into your life, not as people to be used, but as connections that will help you grow in your leadership.
If you need a little help with some of these areas, may I suggest several ways Lifeway Women can help? Here’s a quick list of ways we would love to connect with you and help you stay current.
MARKED podcast: Join us each week as we interview new authors and talk about what God is doing—how He has and is marking each of us.
You Lead conferences: Offered in various cities around the country, You Lead conferences will help you learn how to grow in your biblical literacy, ministry leadership, and be personally equipped in your spiritual journey.
You Lead webinars: These free one-hour webinars are offered throughout the year. Join experts and panelists as they discuss current topics in leadership. You can register for one or all of them!
Journey devotional magazine: Stay in God’s Word daily with a quarterly subscription to Journey magazine. With your subscription, you’ll also have access to a digital copy with the Lifeway Women app (which is also another great way to stay connected to current information!). You can subscribe today!
Kelly is the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for Lifeway Christian Resources. She is the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide to Leading Women in the Local Church and contributor to the Lifeway Women’s Bible, as well as the Lifeway Women Advent and Easter studies. In addition, she is the co-host of the MARKED podcast for Lifeway Women. She has a Master of Theology degree from Gateway Seminary and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Ministry degree.
1. Pete Hamill, Tabloid City (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011), 200.