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Helps for women’s ministries relayed in 7th annual consultation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Women from 11 states attended the seventh annual Women’s Leadership Consultation for people working in women’s ministries and encouragement for today’s Christian women.
“Are you tired or are you weary?” noted author and speaker Dorothy Patterson asked as she kicked off this year’s conference, focusing on “Encouraged and Equipped for the Task” and drawing 180 women to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 25-27.
The words “tired “ and “weary” struck chords of familiarity with the crowd as Patterson noted the busy and sometimes chaotic nature of a life associated with ministry.
Patterson — wife of Paige Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. — cited the vast differences between the words tired and weary in her keynote address based on Isaiah 40:28-31.
Tiredness is a physical condition that can be remedied with rest. Weariness “is something that not only wears you down, but weariness strips away your freshness. It also strips you down to your very soul, so that there is a despondency. There is a despair. There is a lack of satisfaction. It is a spiritual attitude, and it can only be removed by spiritual warfare — by coming to God’s Word,” explained Patterson, whose comments set the tone for the weekend of plenary sessions and workshops.
“When I think of spiritual weariness in my life — of the problems that come to me and the day-in and day-out agonies that I would go through on behalf of someone else or in my own life — I realize the first place I have to start in dealing with these things is in recognizing who God is,” she said.
“I have to be reminded of the distinction between God and any human I have ever known,” she said, noting the God to whom Christians run in their weariness will never grow weary himself.
Patterson said every believer facing weariness should “know how our weary souls can be restored and refreshed: ‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint,’” she said, quoting Isaiah 40:31.
She noted the natural progression of walk, run and then soar; however, she said the supernatural order of things is just the opposite. A new Christian soars with excitement. Then, the patient running of the Christian race begins. Walking with God means slowing down, being still, abiding in God and spending time in his Word. “It is at this point where you learn that renewal comes from waiting on him,” Patterson said, “and where you can exchange your weariness for his strength.”
Bobbye Rankin, wife of Jerry Rankin, president of the SBC International Mission Board in Richmond, Va., led a plenary session on “Encouraging a Heart for God Through World Missions.” Rankin cited ways God had blessed her during 15 years of missionary service with her husband in Indonesia, underscoring the greatest goal of ministry by recounting times when she had personally experienced God work in the lives of others halfway around the world.
After noting the importance of spreading the gospel worldwide, she said “many people we come into contact with daily also need to hear the same gospel message.”
She characterized Christians as “pilgrims for God” who should share the gospel of Christ, whether they cross oceans and visit foreign lands or simply share as they cash a check, pump gas or just talk with a co-worker.
“To spread the gospel, one has to first know the One of whom they will proclaim,” said Jaye Martin, women’s evangelism/family evangelism associate at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga.
Though some believers are intimidated by personal witnessing, Martin challenged the ladies to “have a heart for evangelism,” just as the disciple Andrew had.
Martin examined the life of Andrew in the New Testament and shared six facets of the call to leadership:
— the call to Christ, one’s own conversion.
— the call to multiply, exemplified in Andrew telling Simon of the Messiah.
— the call to multiply God’s power by spending time with God in his Word.
— the call to multiply one’s resources by giving Christ all of ourselves.
— the call to multiply the cause, or to become “fishers of men.”
— the call to leadership, which is reflected in helping others answer God’s call on their lives and in an attitude of seriousness regarding the urgency associated with sharing the gospel.
Carol Ann Draper, wife of James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., encouraged listeners to “have a heart for God through spiritual growth.” She compared the marriage relationship with the relationship one has with God and challenged listeners to examine both their physical and spiritual love lives.
Citing the “newness and excitement” in the early stages of one’s relationship with a spouse, Draper compared the same joy and eagerness with the early stages of being a Christian while advising that Christians “should never forget what those days were like.”
Since the Lord loves his children so much, then his children “need to be reminded that if you really love someone, you will want to spend time with them. That includes God and our spouses,” she said.
“When we spend time with God, there is no doubt that we will become more and more like him,” Draper said. “In fact, we will have a passion for loving, knowing and following Christ. We will be transformed into having a heart that longs to serve God by serving others.”
Speaking on “Encouraging a Heart for God Through Service,” Tonya York reflected on her own desires and struggles involved in servanthood. York is married to Hershael York, associate professor of preaching at Southern Seminary.
Quoting Romans 12:1-2, York said Christians are to be “living sacrifices, and we need to fill our lives with the things that matter most in life.” She advised that Christians should examine the way Christ served. “His passion was to serve, and that is what he came to do,” she said.
The Holy Spirit of God will “impress upon us what to do. Our job is to work on our perception and obedience,” York said. “As we learn to abide in him, we will be infectious, intentional and impartial servants of God.”
Many other wives of Southern’s faculty shared their experiences in the various workshops. Dealing with difficult people, mentoring, prayer ministry and planning special events were a few of the areas discussed.
Mary Mohler, wife of Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., led the effort to organize this year’s conference.
“Tape sales from our meetings and workshops have far exceeded such sales for any other meeting the seminary has held in the last 30 years,” said an elated Mohler.
“The ladies came not just to listen, but they have proved they wanted to take the consultation home with them.”
Of the women attending the conference, “scores have called me or written personal notes or told me in person that the consultation changed their lives,” Mohler added. “Certainly, this is a testimony to God’s use of our invited speakers who ministered to us all. I am so grateful for them and everyone else who helped encourage and equip us to serve the Lord more faithfully.”
Tapes are still available by calling Southern Seminary’s office of media services at 1-800-626-5525.
Next year’s annual Women’s Leadership Consultation will be held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

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  • Kelly Coakley