In my role as editor of GiftedforLeadership.com, I don't always think about the women I'm serving; I sometimes get lost in the details—deadlines and matters of grammar and punctuation. But when I lift my thoughts and consider our audience, I enjoy thinking about a diverse group of Christian women, serving in a variety of churches. Gifted for Leadership is a ministry to women in all kinds of church leadership, and I love the idea that this ministry brings together women at every stage of adulthood, from many denominations and traditions, from different places on our planet.
One of our core beliefs is that people who have the spiritual gift of leadership are called to lead, not for their own benefit, but for the sake of nurturing the body of Christ. Women with leadership gifts, as with all gifts from the Holy Spirit, are obligated to use those gifts in the ways and the places God has called them to. For some women, this means coordinating women's ministry. For others, it means serving as executive pastor, running the children's ministry, being senior pastor, or leading small groups. For all, it means an awesome responsibility to steward what God has given them in ministry to others.
One of our goals at Gifted for Leadership is to serve as a mentoring voice for women doing church ministry. We didn't initially set out to mentor women, but we stumbled across this idea as women told us we were playing a mentoring role in their lives—and they wanted this from us. So now we take it seriously, giving specific thought to how Gifted for Leadership can be a worthy mentor. This is not because we ourselves are the best mentors—but because we're in a position to amplify voices of women many can learn from.
Julie Pierce, a leadership consultant, coach, and communicator, and also a TCW editorial advisor, shared her story with me over a cup of iced coffee one scorching afternoon in Dallas. Julie has found her calling: "I'm created to empower leaders to change the world." It's no accident that Julie found this sense of purpose largely because other women served as her mentors, walking alongside her and helping her see the gifts God had given her.
Yet I wonder how many of those women in Julie's life would have called themselves mentors. Her high school English teacher? Her basketball coach? I suspect these women felt they were simply doing their jobs—yet by doing so, they invested in a young woman who would later turn around and do the same for many others.
In this increasingly fractured and niched society, you may not realize how many people you're mentoring. While initiating official mentoring relationships can feel awkward, and committing to them can be intimidating, our most significant mentoring experiences probably happen when we're not paying attention—when we're simply doing our jobs or taking care of the responsibilities God has given us, and someone is quietly watching what we do. Our idle comments serve as life-giving encouragement; our hurried steps become paths for others to follow.
Those of us God has gifted and called to leadership have an incredible responsibility to the women who have us in their view. Like writers and editors focused on deadlines and punctuation, we need to lift our heads now and then to remember the people we're serving. And when we want to know whether our ministries are bearing fruit, it may help to look beyond the obvious. Our unintentional ministries may be our most powerful ones.
Amy Simpson is editor of Christianity Today's Gifted for Leadership. She also serves as the editor of marriage and parenting resources for Today's Christian Woman.