I was alone, or at least I felt that way. Women huddled in happy clusters chatting about first one thing and then another. Some propped babies on their hips. Others clutched Bibles in their hands. Most wore smiles on their faces.
I wore one too. But it wasn’t a reflection of what was in my heart. The upturned lips were simply the camouflage I wore to blend in — to avoid being found out.
What I really wanted to do was run and hide. On the outside I was a well-put-together church mom with trendy shoes and snappy jeans, but on the inside I was a little girl cowering in the far recesses of the playground hoping no one would notice my reluctance to join in.
What’s wrong with me?, I wondered.
Why don’t I feel the joy these other women feel? What holds me back from experiencing the confidence and assurance they seem to experience? Why do I continue to act like the same old me, struggle with the same negative emotions, and wrestle with the same old sins?
Those feelings I felt some thirty years ago are the same feelings many of the women who walk into your church, Bible studies and events feel but try to hide.
So what can we as leaders in ministry do to help women overcome the feelings of insecurity, inferiority and inadequacy – to let them know they are not the only ones who feel “less than?”
Be quick to reveal your struggles and insecurities. Transparency from the leader ushers in transparency from other women. When the women you are serving discover that you aren’t perfect or have your faith walk all figured out, that gives them the freedom to stop trying to appear like super-spiritual-woman and be real. Ah, what a relief!
Don’t let her pretty smile fool you. Pray that God will open your eyes to recognize the woman who is struggling with her faith, her identity as a child of God or her family. Someone can look like they have it all together on the outside and be falling apart on the inside.
You can’t be a mentor to every woman who attends your ministry programs, but you can be a mentor to one. Purposefully ask God to show you who that woman needs to be.
Mary Marshall Young was an older woman in my church who pulled me aside and taught me about my true identity as a child of God. God used her to transform a young mom wrapped tight in insecurity to come out of hiding and take hold of all that Christ Jesus had taken of for me. You very well might be that woman for someone else.
BONUS: Leave a comment sharing how you’ve seen authentic leadership help women face and overcome their insecurities and be entered to win a copy of Sharon’s new book, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For. Winner will be randomly selected from comments left by May 11, 2016.