And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Timothy 2:2

Does your women’s ministry have a strategic plan or system to raise up new leaders? What about your entire church?

I often hear women complain that younger women aren’t involved in their ministry and they have no idea how to reach them. Translation: I try to get younger women to things I like and plan and can’t figure out why they don’t want to come.

Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to get younger women to attend things designed for and by older women, the question should become, “How am I mentoring a younger woman and how am I investing in the life of younger women in my church?”

A few months ago I heard Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian Resources, discuss some basic principles of leadership that are not only good for general church leadership, but are extremely helpful for women. Here’s a few principles he shared that I would like to pass along in today’s post.

1. The Principle of L + 1

In recent studies, only 53 percent of churches admitted they had a system in place to raise up future leaders. There must be a shift from the “me” mentality to “we” mentality. Twenty six percent of church leaders admitted they were afraid to step aside and hand ministry off. A better role model would be L + 1, or one leader plus one leader in training. What does this look like practically? Every leader or committee chair should have someone in training. This also means downward mentorship (the older teaches the younger) and upward mentorship (the younger teaches the older).

2. The Principle of Reward

Do you remember getting awards or recognition as a child? I was always jealous because my sister got trophies for running. I just got certificates for piano awards. Her rewards always seemed a lot more appealing! Humans want and desire to be recognized for their efforts. And if you’re not rewarding them, you’re punishing them (whether you realize it or not). Rainer said, “Praise from a leader produces repetition in a follower.” What you celebrate, you become.

3. Principle of Eating the Elephant

If you’re a women’s leader, no doubt there are probably some elephants in the room. There are things that need to change or vision that needs to be cast. But, be patient in making changes. It takes a long time to eat an elephant and making changes in your ministry requires patience. If you change too quickly, your ministry could implode. Rainer made the comment, “Show urgency towards people and patience for organizations.” Well said Dr. Rainer. People want to know you have their immediate attention, but organizational change may take awhile. Some people estimate it can take a leader five years for significant change to occur. The average tenure of a pastor? Four years. Do the math.

4. The Principle of Strategic Relationships

When I speak about leadership and ministry, I almost always say, “Ministry boils down to one thing–relationships. If you don’t like people, you won’t like ministry.” Dr. Rainer pointed out that leaders need to ask the question, “Who are the influencers?” “Who can I coach?” and “How can I create a missional culture within my people?”

Remind yourself to slow down and listen to the people who are in your ministry. Listen to their ideas, their warnings and how they want to be involved. Never be afraid to ask someone to join your team.

5. Principle of a Leadership Team

Our office has done quite a few seminars on building an effective leadership team. The reason is because we know the importance of surrounding yourself with people who bring to the table a variety of talents, gifts and passions. Fill your ministry with leaders who have a compelling purpose and they will attract more leaders. This is vital to the work of what our office does each year–especially when we are in the midst of planning events. We just completed our biggest event of the year with close to 2,000 women. The leadership team is approximately 14 women who lead various teams which consist of approximately 100 volunteers. There is no way I can  effectively manage each team, but the leadership team is committed to seeing women grow in their walk with the Lord and desire deeply for women to be touched by the word of God.

So, how are you doing as a leader? Who is the one younger person you are bringing up in ministry? How are you investing in her life? What is she teaching you? God has entrusted people to your care. Be a leader plus one.