Choosing Community

Two choices. Choosing to live in isolation like Tom Hanks stuck on that island with his sad little volleyball, Wilson, slowly going crazy with nothing but your own thoughts to keep you company. Or taking a huge risk and choosing to seek life-giving relational community. The question that always rattled around in our brains was: Do the benefits of community outweigh the relational risk and potential hurt found along the way? Was it worth it? Let’s look at a few of the benefits of finding community in leadership.

We love this verse in Ephesians 6:18: Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. Ever felt like dropping out of ministry? Like throwing in the towel of leadership? Ever felt like walking away from the work God has called you to? Or find yourself daydreaming about how wonderful it’d be to work at a coffee shop, bring someone their bagel, and just move on with life? We have.

This verse is clear on why community is vital in our lives. We all need people to keep our spirits up. Why? So we won’t fall behind or drop out. It is vital to have encouragement, hope, and the companionship of others to walk with us through difficulty, hardship, and hurt so we can be healthier women, impacting our marriages, families, and ministries.

The difficulties, expectations, and criticism found in leadership won’t go away. But if we can find people to walk through the valleys with us, to keep our spirits up, there may be a better gift than answers to questions or solutions to problems. We can have the gift of each other, which is what God intended all along.

Let’s look at the story of Moses, Aaron, and Hur in Exodus 17. The Israelites were camped out in Rephidim, where there was no water to drink: a dry and dusty place where the people were “tormented by thirst” until the Lord instructed Moses to strike a rock so that water would gush forth and provide refreshment for the people. In that place, with only the Lord’s provision to sustain them, the warriors of Amalek attacked. Joshua, following Moses’s command, chose men to go out and fight the army of Amalek. And Moses was moved to stand at the top of the hill, gripping in his hand the staff of God that had provided the people with water to quench their thirst.

While Joshua was waging war against the Amalekites on the battlefield, Moses, Aaron, and Hur were waging war in their own way. Verse 11 says: As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.

There are a few things that jump out at us here. First, God is the provider of water when we are thirsty. When your soul is parched, when your spirit is weary, when you think you can’t stand the desert one more minute, God can and will work miracles, sending water gushing forth in a fountain to fill you and soothe you. He can open fountains where we least expect them. He gave the Israelites a constant, abundant supply of water. He will provide for your tired soul and provide abundantly.

Secondly, God is the provider of victory when we are attacked. Our attackers may not be horse-riding, armor-bearing, sword-wielding armies. The battles may be with familiar faces armed with well-aimed verbal blows and committee meetings, or the darker spiritual battles fought in and around us. Either way, God is the provider of victory. As our friend Kerri Weems says, “Lies have a life-span, but truth endures. The truth will outlast any lies that are being told about you.”

And look carefully; don’t miss this. God is also the provider of friends to literally hold up our arms when we cannot anymore. As women, we are often in the arm-holding business. Our husbands need us to hold up their arms on those draining, depressing Monday mornings when the “Holy Hangover” of the weekend won’t let them out of its grip. As our children experience their first breakup or when the stress of hours of homework takes its toll, we lift their arms. When our friend has just discovered that her husband has been having an affair for the last few months, or debt is about to drown a woman in our Bible study, we hold up their arms. We support the arms of our coworker who just got that dreaded phone call from the doctor, and the arms of a church member who is being strangled by depression. And the list could go on. Women are arm holders.

But this passage in Exodus begs the question: Who is holding up your arms? Who is joining you in your pain, struggle, hurt, and weariness? Who is grabbing hold of your exhausted hands and helping to lift them to the Lord?

This is an excerpt from LEADING AND LOVING IT: ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PASTOR'S WIVES AND WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP by Lori Wilhite & Brandi Wilson. Copyright © 2013 by Lori Wilhite and Brandi Wilson. Reprinted by permission of FaithWords, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved.

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