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FIRST-PERSON: First year at helm of national WMU full of life-changing experiences

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–My first year of service as executive director for Woman’s Missionary Union has been filled with many life-changing experiences. Just changing locations would challenge the best of us. But, add to that graduating two from college and law school; planning your only daughter’s wedding; changing vocations (you and your husband); selling a house you’ve lived in for more than 15 years; buying a new house; and trying to maneuver an enterprise the size of WMU into the 21st century. You can now spell stress with a capital “S.”

During the first few months at WMU, I was immersed in getting to know the staff by name and by job function. Learning the publishing arm of WMU presented a learning curve unlike any I had ever known. Add to that the management of a $14 million budget and you begin to get the picture. I frequently remarked to people when asked how I was doing: “There is more to WMU than one person can possibly wrap their mind around.”

While learning the internal workings of WMU nationally, the demands of staying current in a quickly changing church and denominational culture provided an added challenge. In days like these, the grace of a loving heavenly Father has become more and more precious.

So what are the lessons learned in this first year?

1. You can never over-communicate your message.

2. Relationships are paramount for success.

3. Leadership means serving others by enabling them to serve.

4. Listen, listen, listen and then you have the right to speak.

5. Most of all, in our weakness, God is most clearly seen and his will accomplished.

There have been times of laughter as well as tears personally and among the family at WMU’s offices in Birmingham, Ala. But the reality of God’s presence has never been more real. His blessings have been in abundance. God has given this organization an incredible group of servants with whom it is my privilege to work.

He has also given me a tremendous extended family of co-laborers in the state and regional conventions whose wisdom and advice have been invaluable throughout this first year. I am forever indebted to all of them and to members in the churches for their prayers, kind words and notes of encouragement through these challenging months.

Now we must move forward with the missions banner high before us. We must never forget that the call of God is stronger today than yesterday for fulfilling the challenge of the Great Commission. With this reality in mind, I can only speak the words of the apostle Paul for myself — and hopefully for each one of you — when he said: “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14 NASB).

The prize for each of us will be to hear his words at the end of the way — “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

    About the Author

  • Wanda S. Lee