The highest calling of every believer, regardless of gender, is to make Christ known and bring Him glory.
That was the message Jamie Ivey, author, speaker and host of the Happy Hour Podcast and The Jamie Ivey Talk Show emphasized at the Women & Work forum held June 15 in Nashville. The forum was one of several women’s events held in conjunction with the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.
Ivey encouraged her mostly female audience to look for their “sweet spot” in ministry. To those unsure of what that might be, she had this advice: “Go serve and figure it out. … If you get some place and it’s not working, try something else.”
Ivey said she didn’t find her own sweet spot in ministry until she was in her mid-30s. She said other women’s sweet spots might depend on their life season too — balancing work and life is different with the ages and stages of your children, for example.
Where God has you
“You’ve been given a voice to make a difference where you are, where He’s planted you with the people who are around you,” Ivey said.
Courtney Moore, founder and president of Women & Work, and Missie Branch, assistant dean of students to women and the director of graduate life at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, led the discussion. Moore and Branch are co-hosts of the Women & Work podcast.
Branch also was part of a panel of women leaders who spoke June 14 at the SBC Women’s Leadership Network event, “Steadfast: Persevering Through Every Season of Leadership.”
Jacki King, a speaker and author from Arkansas, moderated the discussion.
Branch said when she started her job at Southeastern, she felt she had something to prove.
“I was just really trying to do it all myself,” she said.
“I’ve had to do a lot of growth in what it means to lead, and of course, Jesus is an incredible model, but there are also brilliant women who I have gotten to learn from and books to read.
“I think that has been the challenge of wanting to own the position I’ve been given and to really feel like I don’t have to shrink back.”
Branch said she believes “every woman is a leader,” but women must also give themselves permission to fail and use those experiences to learn.
Kathy Litton, director of planter spouse development at the North American Mission Board, echoed that thought, noting many women, including herself, battle a tendency toward perfectionism. “I was stuck with fear, wanting [each event] to be 100% perfect, and you can’t do that,” Litton said.
Recognize your weaknesses and address them, she advised.
‘Strong … leaders’
Author Susie Hawkins reminded the 200 or so women in attendance that “women have been involved in SBC life for many years.”
“They were messengers, they were active in convention work, active in missions, active in their local churches. We do stand on their shoulders,” Hawkins said, “There have been really strong women leaders that have gone before us and paved the way for us.”
The women encouraged pursuing education, either through a certificate program or theological education.
“Women, please see yourself as theologians,” Branch said. “See this season as preparation for the next one.”
Branch also moderated a panel discussion focused on sharing Great Commission stories held during Southeastern’s women’s breakfast on June 16.
During the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon held June 15, speaker and author Jen Wilkin emphasized community.
Wilkin, a staff member at The Village Church, Flower Mound, Texas, noted that the past year has been “exhausting,” with everyone feeling the effects. She commended those gathered for caring for their communities.
‘Look out for needs’
“If the Church is the family of God, … and I believe deeply that it is, … then in this room, sitting here, we have a room full of church mothers. Women who look out for the needs of the church,” Wilkin said.
Wilkin encouraged her listeners to guard their hearts against discouragement and pursue spiritual maturity.
“When you think about being a person who is spiritually mature, someone who understands exactly what to do with discouragement — what do you think of?” she asked.
“We don’t really have to wonder because the Bible gives us a good picture of what maturity looks like.”
Reading from James 1, Wilkin noted the “perfection” and “completeness” referenced in verse 4 could also be interpreted as maturity.
“Perfection, not in the sense that we cease sinning, but that we are growing to look like Christ.”
Trials like the ones Christians have faced through the past year and a half will produce steadfastness in the believer, she said.
“Patience will serve you for a moment or a day. Steadfastness will serve you for a decade and a lifetime.”