response: January/February 2021 Issue

Leadership for Such a Time As This

Leadership for Such a Time As This
Harriett Jane Olson

The beginning of a new year is often a time of new responsibilities. In this particular year, following our normal patterns has a new level of complexity as we add the responsibility of protecting one another and ourselves from a life-threatening disease. Regarding our spiritual health, it’s a good time to start with the basics.

First, of course, is our grounding in faith. As I take on new responsibilities or work with a team with new members or just start a new year, what will I commit to doing to keep me rooted in faith? For you it could be using the Prayer Calendar daily, praying for the work around the world. Perhaps you will start a new journal (or use the Prayer Calendar as one) for reflecting on how God is calling us to sisterhood, service and advocacy. Perhaps you’ll commit to reading a book a month from the Reading Program list. Perhaps you’ll create a shared practice of prayer or reading with your circle or unit.

Next, it is helpful to ask yourself, what do I feel God is calling me and this team to accomplish? The team can work on developing this together so you each have a sense of where you would like to be in 3-5 years. That makes it much easier to ask, what would we need to do this year to make that happen? You might say, we want to take our local mission work to a new level, not just providing food to hungry neighbors but building a relationship with them. Or, you might say, we want our members to have a better understanding of the global work of United Methodist Women and begin exploring the many United Methodist Women resources. Or you might want to start a new circle or connect with a nearby United Methodist church without a unit and create a welcoming place for women in that congregation. Or you might decide to enhance the focus on Mission Giving as we all respond to the economic and social justice needs that are so evident at this time. Working on longer-term goals together can reduce anxiety, connect us back to our Purpose and help team members to see how their work contributes to the shared goal.

Some of our work will be challenging. We must continue to press our long work on racial justice and advocacy for those marginalized by society. We must find ways of saying hard things that need to be said and hearing hard things that need to be heard. If you’re like me, you’ve had the experience of encountering new information or a different interpretation and pushing back (even by arguing with an author in the margins!), only to find yourself coming back to it and seeing it differently as time goes by. Listening and reading with an open heart can help us all as leaders and teams.

The work of United Methodist Women requires us to see real people and respond to real needs in the real world. To do that, we need to ground ourselves in faith, develop objectives with our teams that we can work on over a period of time and listen and speak. I’m praying for you and with you, sisters, at such a time as this.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women
holson@unitedmethodistwomen.org

Posted or updated: 1/12/2021 12:00:00 AM