Mar 07, 2016
Helping Single, Female Staff Thrive
Melody Richeson, Executive Director of Alongside Women, Inc., offers help in leading single, female staff members to thrive in collegiate ministry.
As the director of a collegiate ministry you play such a unique role in a young female staff woman’s life. You are not only her boss but her elder brother (or sister) in Christ. In some cases it may be more like a father-figure! I know you deeply desire her good and her growth. I wonder if some of you, out of a wish to be kind and a desire not to meddle, have a tendency to tread a little too lightly? She needs your active involvement in her life and her ministry trajectory. Here are three things she needs from you in order to thrive:
She is thrilled to be on your team and she wants with all her heart to help you turn vision into reality. To state it bluntly: She wants to please you. Some of you may operate on the principle that, “No news is good news.” I can assure you this is not true for her. What is she doing well? Where do you see her using her gifts and strengths to make a difference? She needs to hear regularly from you in a personal, intentional appointment. She also needs you to tell her when she is not living up to her potential or your expectations. Be kind, of course, but don’t view her as fragile. Yes, she may cry but she will take to heart what you share and she will learn from it. This cannot be delegated. She may meet regularly with another staff woman or your wife, and they may share many helpful things with her, but YOU are her boss. She needs to hear both corrections and, “Well done,” from you.
2. Accountability in Support Development
She needs to understand clearly how much she is expected to raise and be held accountable to keep moving toward that goal. Young female staff often have a tendency to raise support just up to a barely livable level and then quit working on it. She should have some ongoing goals that you check up on: How many contacts do you plan to make this month? Who are they? If she has not attended a training seminar on Support Development, please make it possible for her to do so. The value of a few days spent learning from others about raising support will be well worth her time (and your financial investment.) If she is unable to secure sufficient funding after two or three years, I hope you will encourage her move on to a different job. The Lord may lead her back into campus ministry in the future. If so, she will return with less debt, broader work experience and an expanded base of contacts. I think we do a real disservice to young women (and men) by keeping them on staff while they have significant debt, are unable to save, and are barely earning a living wage.
3. Diverse Ministry and Learning Opportunities
This need is proportionate to her length of time on staff. The longer she is on your staff, the greater her need will be to have new outlets both for learning and serving. I hope you will encourage her to attend conferences, read good books, and take advantage of training seminars or other opportunities. Maybe she should enroll in seminary. Would she be interested in leading a summer training project or taking part in an overseas mission trip? All those things will help keep her vision fresh and give some healthy variety to her life. Look for ways for her to explore other strengths and “try on some new things.” It will help her continue to contribute to your local ministry in fresh and vibrant ways.
Please check out Alongside Women, Inc. for more great resources to help women serving in collegiate ministry!