This year’s Summer Sampler Series answers the question “What does by design do?” Each post will address an aspect of our ministry, as told by women who have been positively impacted. We hope that their stories encourage you and inspire you to take advantage of the support, training, and resources available to you from by design ministries.
For more information about the wide range of services offered by our ministry, please click here.
Kinship of Understanding
By Mary Allen
No man is an island, but it’s possible that in ministry we might feel like we’re isolated on one sometimes. The New England reality we all know is that our churches and ministries are typically not very large. The role that you are serving in most likely has some element of solitariness to it. Especially in the particular responsibilities you carry. Especially in leadership.
It’s true that many of us have tremendous support from people around us as we work in the ministry God has called us to. While that is encouraging and affirming, it doesn’t necessarily make us feel understood. Unless they’ve been in the position we’re in, that feeling of loneliness can be inevitable.
I’m almost 40 years old, and my kiddos are only 3 and 6, so compared to a lot of my friends, I’m an older mom. My 20s were spent single, working in full-time ministry, before my 30s of marriage and parenthood. I have a cousin who is 10 years younger than me, and despite our age difference, we are particularly close (out of 15 first cousins – our parents are boomers from a huge family!). She knows exactly what it’s like to walk through her 20s single and work in full-time ministry because she’s doing it, too. It’s unique in our circles, and it gives us a different type of connection and understanding.
This point where we identify with someone else could be anything: single or married; kids or no kids; work outside the home or stay at home; adventurer or home-body; crafty or craft-challenged; or numerous things more intimate, personal, and deep. Whatever our age or stage, when we’re spending real effort to get to know each other, we will find similarities. There is great comfort and soothing of spirit to meet someone who says “Wait, you, too!?” when you find that commonality.
While in some aspects of our lives as women this moment is easier to have, I’ve experienced first-hand the challenge it can be to come across that common understanding as a ministry worker and pastor’s wife. I’ve only been connected with by design ministries for a few years, but it has already shown itself to be a valuable, unique community in my life. When I enter the group of women at a by design event, that kinship of understanding is there. I’ve sat with women who have previously been strangers, and discovered powerful, encouraging threads between us.
Also, knowing that these women come from all over New England gives me an even greater sense of connectedness. Your church may be small, but your fellowship of female ministry workers extends much further than that. How’s this for tied together: in one evening at a by design event, I ran into my high school small group leader, plus a woman who cared for me in nursery (oh yes, “I changed your diapers!” totally happened), and found out that the speaker’s husband used to be a pastor at our church where my husband is currently a pastor. Oh, and I knew her son during high school (STOP. IT.)!
It can be easy to feel alone, head down, just trying to focus on the next thing that needs to be done in your ministry – I know I have. I’ve been so grateful for the bolstering effect in my life and ministry of the community I’ve found through by design.
We all need it. Someone to really relate to the specific joys and challenges we face in our ministries. Someone at some point to be able to say “I’ve been where you are! I’ve seen what you’ve seen. I’ve felt what you’re feeling. I’ve set up the tables and chairs, and assembled the materials and craft supplies that you have…”.
So look up from the tasks, ladies; the rescue plane is circling your island. Hop on and discover the community of ministry ladies right here in our own region. And if you’re looking for someone to relate to your blessed packet-stuffing, room-arranging, event-detail-managing war stories, I’m your girl.
Connect with Community!
Ready to hop on the plane? We’re in for a wonderful ride! by design ministries offers many ways to connect with other women who can relate to your circumstances and many ways to support you as you serve. Get solid ministry training from our Women’s Leadership Training curriculum. Get support and connections from our Together Groups. Learn about mentoring and deepen relationships with the next generation at WeConnect. Not sure where to plug in? Contact us and our caring staff will help you find the best fit for you.
Mary Allen is a native New Englander with a degree in communications and an enthusiastic heart for women’s ministry. She has been an event host and director for over 15 years, serving with local churches and organizations. She is also a ministry wife, married for 10 years to Shawn, Pastor of Student Ministries at their church, and a homeschool mom to two energetic and hilarious little boys.