By Rev. Hazel Jackson
Women have been major players in the function of ministries, management and operation of the church and industry for many years. Often women work tirelessly in positions for years because there is no one else who is willing to assume the position or they are working extremely well for lower compensation. Women often forget about themselves and their health when fulfilling various roles. Industry and the church need to be cognizant of the continuous work of women and find a means to give them a period of respite. Many women do not have personal outlets that provide rest, therefore they have little means of escape.
The church can be the outlet where women can receive unconditional love. Unconditional love can be the catalyst that women need to replenish physical and spiritual energy. Women need to be encouraged to love themselves, as well. When a woman loves herself, she is apt to assume responsibilities for her mind, soul and body in a manner that will help maintain a healthy lifestyle. The church can assist women by offering opportunities for personal pampering and /or host activities that recognize the tireless work of women in the church, industry and at home. Bible studies that cater to women’s issues would be beneficial. Non-competitive recreational activities to release stress would enhance the physical well-being of women.
There are several ministries that would enhance the emotional health of women, i.e. Stephen Ministry; regular organized body exercise; care ministries that can provide emergency childcare when a child is ill or the school is closed for a day or two; care ministries that send “thinking of you” cards to working moms; a means to a safe sanctuary for women who are abused or misused.
It would enhance the performance of women to have a co-leader for each ministry; to know and exercise their limits in industry; and to share the responsibilities at home with their spouses and other family members. When someone has another person to share their responsibilities or to discuss the issues that concern them, it lightens their load and provides options, as well as time for them to be more creative. The church can encourage a confidential buddy system that gives women an opportunity to share their feelings and concerns with someone or a small interest group.
It would be advantageous if leaders were given term limits, so that they will not be expected to maintain a given position for years and years. All women need time to reflect on their responsibilities and their spiritual, as well as physical, health. When a term limit is reached, the leader should be encouraged to relinquish the position to the co-leader or another member. Time off gives one the opportunity to release responsibilities and have the freedom of receiving care rather than giving it.
The church needs to be proactive in offering means for women to retreat and renew themselves spiritually and physically. Many women have the tendency to work continuously until they are burned out. Women need opportunities to be able to escape the demands of the church and society.
Members who accept the offer to display unconditional love could offer their time and talents to help cultivate spiritual, emotional and physical health activities for others. Each of us has special talents and most can be shared for the well-being of others. If people will give of their time, talents and resources to assist others in their areas of deficiency, there would be happier, healthier people in church and in our communities. The giver would be blessed for sharing and the recipient will be blessed as their deficiencies diminish.
Women, let’s slow down and enjoy our journey in life. Let’s read and practice the Serenity Prayer, daily. God please grant each woman the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change; the courage to change the things that we can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Let’s devote time to God and to ourselves, daily, so that we can be healthy and happier. Let’s share some of our time, talents and resources to help another sister live a fulfilling life.
Rev. Hazeline Jackson is a pastor in the Texas annual conference, appointed to serve Ashford United Methodist Church in Houston Texas. A lifelong United Methodist, Pastor Hazel is a strong advocate and voice for women in her church and conference.