As more churches add women’s ministry programs, there is a growing need to address the issues that naturally arise as women minister alongside one another and to one another. Given the fallen nature of the human heart as well as the complexities of personalities, conflict is an inevitable aspect of ministry. How do women deal with emotions when other women are insensitive, manipulative, or just plain mean? What does the Bible tell us? To be equipped for conflict, women must understand and master strategies specifically related to conflict with other women.
Leading Women Who Wound shows women how to effectively deal with conflict within their ministries. Seasoned women’s ministry leaders themselves, Sue Edwards and Kelley Mathews walk through several different aspects of conflict resolution including self-examination, identification of potential sources of conflict, tools for conflict resolution, and insight on how to prevent and move beyond conflict to minister to those who have been sources of contention. Recognizing that not all conflict results in a happy ending, Leading Women Who Wound gives the tools necessary to minister effectively and move forward with integrity.
Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.
Sue: I grew up an only child in a dysfunctional military family that traveled the world. I lived in ten different places by the time I was a junior in high school. My mind and experiences was broad but my heart was small and wounded.
I came to faith through the mentoring of a godly grandmother when I was six and a women’s Bible study that I attended as an adult. David Edwards and I married in the early seventies and moved to Dallas where he is a computer engineer and lay prison chaplain. We have two married daughters, four grandchildren and another will arrive in May.
After coming to faith in Jesus in my mid-twenties, I attended Dallas Theological Seminary to become a better Bible teacher in the women’s study where I met Jesus. They equipped me to write Bible study curriculum, lead small groups, and teach the Bible. After fifteen years in that parachurch study, God led me into church ministry. I worked as a lay minister at Prestonwood Baptist church, birthing the women’s ministry and teaching a Bible study for seven years. I learned valuable lessons there but grieved that I was not part of the official team. God opened doors for me as Adviser to Women Students at DTS and as Pastor to Women at Irving Bible Church in 1998, where I served for six years. Then God opened up the opportunity to teach full time in the Christian Education department at DTS. I teach courses in women’s ministry, general Christian education, and oversee the Doctor of Ministry Women in Ministry degree.
Kelley: I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, part of a mixed family and the only daughter. With all those brothers I learned to excel at sports and hold my own with the guys. Though we were faithful attenders at a liturgical church, I really came to know Jesus in the sixth grade due to the personal attention of a teacher. She introduced me to Him as my savior, the one who forgave me completely and didn’t require further efforts to earn his love. That year transformed my life.
After several years in a Bible church during my college years at LSU, I entered seminary and began honing my writing, editing, and teaching skills. God always seems to put an older woman in my path who has been willing to mentor me in a given area. At DTS, two such women emerged, Sue being one of them. The other woman guided me into my first ministry position as Director of Women’s Ministries at Rowlett Bible Fellowship. I taught bible studies there for several years until my husband’s job moved us away. In the meantime, Sue and I had begun our writing ministry together.
I have been married to John for almost 12 years. We have two sons, ages 8 and 5, and a daughter who is 3. I stay home with the younger two and continue my writing and editing on a freelance basis. Several years ago I also began serving as Graduate Teaching Assistant for DTS, guiding students through the online courses of Evangelism and Spiritual Life.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
Sue: What spare time? In the time I have, I love to read and to write. To relax, we enjoy quality film and walking along the canals near our home with our West Highland Terrier Wallace. We also enjoy visiting our children and grandchildren in Anchorage, Alaska, and Houston, Texas.
Kelley: I’m with Sue…what spare time? My children occupy most of my day, though I do find time to read, blog, and watch the LSU Tigers during football season. My husband good-naturedly tolerates my football obsession.
What has God been teaching you lately?
Sue: God has been reminding me again that I understand so little. The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know much at all. I am a little child, completely dependent upon my Heavenly Father, and that’s a good thing. He has also been teaching me to slow down and to face the reality that one day I won’t be able to do all I do now-and that’s OK.
Kelley: The importance of daily devotion, constant prayerfulness, and dependence on Him. As an independent, efficient sort, it’s easy for me to burn through my day without much reflection on the Lord and what He might want. Lately, I’m re-learning the reality of my weakness-and in the process, the joy of leaning on him!
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sue: When I was a child, I was a pagan. I wanted to impact my world in some significant way but I had no clue how. I dreamed of being a singer and would twirl and dance to Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical in my living room. The problem was I can’t sing. When Jesus found me, I yearned to have an impact for Him.
Kelley: I always knew more what I didn’t want to be, such as a dancer or singer (my family will laugh if they read this). After biology class, I knew I wasn’t meant to be a scientist. I used the process-of-elimination method to determine I wanted to be a writer.
How did you get involved in writing?
Sue: People kept telling me I should write a book. So finally I did.
Kelley: I was the editor of my high school newspaper and had to write a monthly column. In seminary, I developed my skills through the Media Arts in Ministry program in which I was privileged to be mentored by talented writers.
How do you find time to write?
Sue: Working in academia helps. We break between semesters and in the summer. During those blocks of time I can write from 8 am to 7 pm with a few breaks to eat and walk around. I’m an introvert and this ability to focus alone is God’s gift to me-and allows me to knock out a project quickly.
Kelley: Can you say “naptime”? All of our works were written when my children were infants to 4 years old. Naptime and evenings were my only opportunities to write.
What did you enjoy most about the writing process?
Sue: I love the vision for the project and I love the process-and I love interacting with people we have helped with our writing. Nothing is more fun than spending the day creating with words.
Kelley: I enjoy the refining and editing…making something already there, better.
What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?
Sue: The editing-that’s why I write with Kelley. She is a gifted editor and writer.
Kelley: Creating story. I struggle to make events flow and people come alive (don’t look for my fiction release anytime soon!). Sue excels at stories.
Tell me about co-authoring a book. What was that process like? What was enjoyable? Difficult?
Sue: Writing with Kelley is fun. I usually write the first draft. Then we meet and talk over how to make it better. Since we are from different generations-I’m a Boomer and Kelley is a Buster-we come with different perspectives, enriching the work and connecting with a wider audience.
Kelley: Sue has been gracious from the beginning, giving me full authority to challenge and change anything she started. The back-and-forth exchanges taught me much about our subject matter and about partnership. The only difficulty I noticed was in the logistics of meeting together, but even then Sue’s flexibility eased that stress.
What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?
Go for it-but realize it takes patience and perseverance
Where did you get the idea for the book?
We write about issues that face women today-issues we have experienced: for example, working with men and learning to work through conflict and personal attacks. Our new book Leading Women Who Wound came out of excruciating experiences that we learned happen to many women when they work with other women. We could not find a book out there that really addressed these issues from a women’s perspective, so we wrote one.
What are the major themes of the book?
Personal attacks, difficult people, and conflict are inevitable in ministry. Whether you volunteer a few hours a week or work on full time staff, you won’t be the exception! But men and women perceive and process conflict differently. Finally, a book for women by women who have been there. Are you particularly vulnerable? Can you differentiate between constructive criticism and destructive attacks? Have you mastered the process Jesus taught his disciples? A practical comprehensive guide book, Women Who Wound and How to Lead Them will prepare you to thrive in conflict as you learn to disarm and love women who hurt you.
What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
I read everything I could find on the topic, drew on my own experiences, and interviewed women who had stories to share. I expected to look hard to find these women but when women asked what I was working on and I told them, many said, “Let me tell you what happened to me!”
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
We hope they will prepare for personal attacks and conflict, becoming more direct in their communication styles and following Matthew 18 in their personal and ministry lives. Peacemaker ministry says there are 19,000 conflicts in churches every year and one in four ministers will either be fired or asked to leave their positions. Our goal is to lessen those stats as well as the heartache that results from managing conflict badly.
About the Authors:
Kelley Mathews is a freelance writer and copy editor. She began her mothering career after earning her Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her husband live in Texas with their three child ren.
Learn more about Kelley at http://www.newdoors.info/.
Sue Edwards is assistant professor of Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she is leading the development of the Women in Ministry concentration, and has received awards for her excellence in education. She and her husband have two children and four grandchildren.
Learn more about Sue at http://www.newdoors.info/
Here are the blogs featuring Leading Women Who Wound
A Little Bit of Sunshine
A Little Whine and Cheese
A Peek at My Bookshelf
Blog Tour Spot
Book Nook Club
Christy’s Book Blog
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
Refresh My Soul
The Friendly Book Nook
The Journey of Writer Danica Favorite
They Hang Like Paper Lanterns
Posted under Tours