WACO - Women in ministry should embrace leadership in the areas God has called them to, according to speakers at the Texas Baptists Women in Ministry Conference held at George W. Truett Theological Seminary on Mar. 25.
"As a woman in ministry, you should have a sense of call," said Bernadine Davis, minister of discipleship and spiritual formation at David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Austin. "You need to understand the nature of that call, pursue quality education to have a solid foundation for your ministry, and make sure your ministry context supports the nature of your call."
Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and former director of the Christian Life Commission, served as the keynote speaker. She challenged women to remember the seeds of leadership that have been planted in their lives.
"The seeds of Christ-like leadership are like seeds of adversity or anomaly," Paynter said. "We are promised to share the journey, not always the destination."
God's people should listen to His voice, following the example Jesus laid before them.
"We are in charge of our obedience to Christ," Paynter said during the morning session. "Don't be stingy, don't be catty, don't be small. Join something. Lead something. Be contagious. Be called without regret because God is not through with us yet."
Panel discussions were led by a variety of speakers addressing the topics of Preparing for Leadership, Living in Leadership, and Exploring Leadership and Encouragement.
In the discussion on Exploring Leadership, Davis shared her journey as a woman minister within her congregation. Armed with the support of her senior pastor, Joseph Parker, and many other congregants, Davis has found great strength in her journey. She told attendees about the importance of seeking the Lord's guidance in leadership as a pivotal part of ministry.
"How much time you spend with God will direct how you lead God's people," Davis said. "Be consistent, always going to God for direction on how we should lead his people."
Embracing leadership also means leading with an open heart as criticism arises, according to Cheryl Kimble, pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church in Austin. During an afternoon breakout session, she encouraged women facing criticism in their churches to look to the Lord for guidance.
"You have to be relational with people if you want to grow and learn with them and to share Christ. But when you are relational, you open yourself up to being hurt," Kimble said.
She challenged women to spend time in prayer, model what they teach, have community outside their congregation and to keep the Sabbath.
"We must clear out the noise in this world so we can hear God and hear those in our congregation crying out for help," Kimble said.
Matt Snowden, pastor of First Baptist Church Waco, encouraged the women to remain faithful to the call of Jesus.
"Don't preach yourselves, there's plenty of people doing that," Snowden said. "Preach Jesus Christ as Lord and serve for Jesus' sake."
In the closing session, Paynter reflected on the importance of Christian heritage through baptism and the power behind the personal experience.
"We came up out of the water to the reigning relationship with Jesus Christ, risen to walk in newness of life." Paynter said. "We will remember and claim again the power of our baptism. It wasn't for a moment, but for a lifetime."