Each day that we step through the doors of our pregnancy centers, we have opportunities to apply lessons in leadership. Perhaps that’s as the role of a director, a nurse manager, a volunteer coordinator, or a patient advocate. Whether we lead an entire team, manage a group of volunteers, or help patients/clients, as leaders we can apply five important lessons:
- Find Fortitude. The work we do is not easy. We need perseverance. At True Care, where I serve, we call that “a fighting spirit.” Between attacks on our work and women who choose abortion despite the compassion, services, and information we provide them, we need that fortitude, that fighting spirit, to daily return to work. We can share that persevering attitude with our patients/clients, reminding them they are strong, and we are here for them, with services, resources, and encouragement.
- Practice Patience. The work we do requires patience, with ourselves, our colleagues, and our clients. That’s often easier said than done. Patience is likely one of the most often prayed-for attribute among Christians for it’s necessary in any relationship we experience, and in this line of work, that characteristic is required nearly every moment. As we practice patience in our work world as well as in our home life, we grow ever more like Christ, our true leader.
- Mentor Mercy. We are human, and we work with humans. Therefore, there are days when things don’t run smoothly and Christian women (and men) get on each other’s nerves. There are times when mercy may be difficult to extend, whether to a staff member, volunteer, or patient/client. Feelings get hurt, hearts are torn. Yet, Jesus’ reminder to “Turn the other cheek” echoes in our brains, and the vision of Him saying from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” reverberates in our hearts and ears. We are to forgive our neighbors and our enemies, just as Christ did.
- Guide with Grace. There are several definitions of the word ‘grace:’ elegance/refinement, giving honor or credit to someone or something, and courteous goodwill. There is also the spiritual grace or the unmerited favor of God. All of these apply to our pro-life work. We give respect/honor to the women we serve by not passing judgment, and we guide those whom we lead, whether our teams or volunteers, with honor, respect, and goodwill. We also need to extend grace to ourselves when we mess up, which we will do as fallible human beings.
- Lean into Love. Jesus reminded his disciples to love one another; that statement applies to us today as well. Pregnancy help ministry is all about love – love for the unborn and for the frightened, confused mothers who carry them. We help the unborn by helping the moms, and we do so with love and compassion. Jesus loved the unlovable of His day: tax collectors, lepers, adulterers, prostitutes, ones which the Pharisees labeled ‘sinners.’ We are all sinners and yet God loves each of us. The song “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love” speaks volumes to who our God is and who He expects us to be.
I’ve been with True Care Women’s Resource Center nearly a decade. As Patient Resources Director, I oversee the advocates, the volunteers, and a few staff members. Daily, I utilize the five leadership lessons mentioned. I failed often in the early years, and even today, I struggle. No one is perfect, but when we apply ourselves, we grow. Christ showcased each of the above qualities and leadership skills, and as His children, we need to follow in His footsteps, knowing we’ll falter now and then.
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Since joining the Casper, Wyoming pregnancy center, I’ve been fortunate to work under a strong, faithful, grace-filled leader. She plans to retire in the next few years after more than two decades as CEO of our organization. What a model Terry Winship is and has been! Each year, she encourages leading staff members to grow by attending the Global Leadership Summit, an event put on by Willow Creek Church in Chicago. The Summit is simulcast around the country, including at a local church. This year is no different. Five of us will be going to the August 8-9, 2019 event via the simulcast.
Each year, we are challenged to grow as leaders, to learn valuable lessons and apply them in our pro-life organization. We learn from leadership, business, and nonprofit speakers such as John Maxwell, Patrick Lencioni, Craig Groeschel, and Danielle Strickland. Many of the stories are moving, and the presenters bring value, encouragement, and challenge to attendees. We glean and later apply the knowledge and inspiration received, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend.
God brings people and opportunities into our lives so that we can in turn share with and help others. He gave His only Son for our salvation and for extending His mercy, love, grace, patience, and fortitude. May we continue learning and applying His leadership example, find ways to grow through the expertise of others, and apply those traits and skills to the work in our centers.