Do you remember playing the game “Hot Potato” as a young child? The idea was to pass an object to others as quickly as you could while music played. You didn’t want to possess the “potato” when the music stopped or you were out of the game.

Playing “Hot Potato” is how I have felt this summer regarding several topics that have gained a lot of attention. I’ve been encouraged to blog about several of them, but until now, I’ve stayed out of the circle and avoided touching the potato. Notice I said, “Until now.”

I’m going to quickly address a few of the topics that are generating a lot of buzz among women. Many writers have addressed these topics with greater eloquence and clarity, so I will not attempt to re-state what has been said by others. (there are some great links at the bottom of this post) Instead, I want to look at these topics through the lens of a women’s missions or ministries leader in the local church. If you are a leader, you need to be aware of these hot potatoes and how you will “handle” them.

The book 50 Shades of Grey: Haven’t heard of it? Many of the women in your church have. And they are reading it. Labeled “mommy porn”, it’s an issue you must address as a leader. I recently asked a librarian (who also happens to be a ministry wife) about the popularity of the book in their small community. I was somewhat taken back when she told me there were more than 200 women on the waiting list. This doesn’t even begin to account for the number of women who are downloading the book on their e-readers or the millions of copies that have been sold.

How should you address this hot topic? First, be bold in your communication. Provide information with an explanation of the damage these books are doing in the minds of Christian women. Second, recognize your ministry should be addressing the issues of Biblical womanhood and sexuality in the context of Biblical marriage. Consider offering a Bible Study, such as “Intimate Issues” by Linda Dillow or “True Woman 101: Divine Design 101” by Mary Kassain and Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.”

Chick-Fil-A and Homosexuality: Earlier this month, Christians made a stand in support of Chick-Fil-A’s stance on marriage. As one of my friends said on Twitter, “Only Christians would protest by eating fast food.” It will come as no surprise that I agree with their president, Dan Cathy, on the definition of marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman. I love their restaurant and love the values they hold dear. I have no problem with people supporting their company.

But as a women’s ministry leader, how do you handle this? Did you handle this? How do you continue to handle this? Instead of waving the flag for chicken, are you showing compassion towards the women who have deep hurts regarding this issue? Are you helping moms in your ministry who have children struggling with same-sex attraction? Does your church offer help or hurt? May I suggest that ministry leaders be sensitive? Could you be a listening ear instead of a gossiping mouth?  I’m not suggesting that we compromise Biblical values, but let’s pray our ministries will build bridges instead of barriers. I guess I just hope for the day when Christians will be more concerned about people who have never heard the Gospel.

Colossians 3:12-13, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,  accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.”

The Presidential Election: November is just a few months away. It doesn’t take long for me to look at my Facebook newsfeed and know exactly where many people stand politically. I see how my friends have “liked” certain candidates and posted articles supporting their viewpoint.

I won’t lie. I have opinions about politics and I’m generally not afraid to share them. But, in the midst of leading women, who might you alienate by making public comments on the candidate you are supporting? I will never forget persuading a woman to attend a Bible study one fall. Her father is a respected, prominent politician in our state—even though the party he represents doesn’t always line up with the “red” in Oklahoma. On the first day of our Bible study, another woman sat next to my guest. After an introduction, the woman said, “Oh, I know who you are.” She then proceeded to tell my friend how much she disagreed with her father’s politics. Guess what? My friend never came back to Bible Study. Instead of finding a safe place to study God’s word, my friend felt the judgmental spirit of another.

So, what can you do? Here are a few thoughts. Encourage women to vote. Encourage them to be part of the process. Encourage them to be educated on the issues. Implore women to pray—not just prior to the election, but for those who are elected. Just remember God isn’t a Democrat or Republican.

2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: You may not be familiar with TLC’s new show, but it is racing up the ratings charts faster than the star’s pet pig, Glitzy. The show’s central focus is Alana, who made her first appearance on the network’s show Toddler and Tiaras. While I’m not a huge fan of baby pageants, it has definitely been a topic of conversation among friends. I innocently stumbled on this spin-off a couple of weeks ago (blame it on the Olympics being over and it’s August). My husband and I kept watching this precocious 6-year-old and her dysfunctional family. I was even having a conversation on Facebook with my ministry friend in North Carolina in the midst of watching the show! I found myself laughing hysterically—sometimes because I just couldn’t believe this family was for real and sometimes because I live in Oklahoma and understand redneck culture (although I’ve never been noodling).

But the more I have watched, the more uncomfortable I have become. Laughing “at” people and watching the train wreck of someone’s life (especially that of a young child) is something that should concern us, not be our entertainment. Even many mainstream entertainment writers are chastising TLC for being irresponsible.

As a women’s leader, it’s not just about watching this show. It’s about what I’m constantly putting in my mind. How are we raising Godly families in today’s culture? How are we raising Godly girls? How does your women’s ministry help moms navigate parenting? Are you offering Bible studies for parents? Do you have a mom’s group that offers encouragement and support? Let’s “redneckognize” that we are truly living in a time where parents need Godly wisdom. May I suggest “Raising Boys and Girls” by Sissy Goff, David Thomas and Melissa Trevathan (younger children) or “Artificial Maturity” by Tim Elmore? (teens and young adult children)

These verses are a clear reminder of today’s culture: 2 Timothy 3:2-7, “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.  They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,  always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.”

It’s time for women’s ministry leaders to put on the potholders and handle the hot issues of our culture. Let’s not throw them off too quickly, but lead women with wisdom, compassion and humility.

Helpful links: Letter to Women from Debbie Stuart at Prestonwood Baptist Church

Dannah Gresh:  I’m Not Reading 50 Shades of Grey