A New Approach
My car was at the dealership service center for a recall repair. Since I was 70 miles from home and anticipated a half-day wait, I chose a loaner vehicle and drove to the shopping center. I did not have a list of gifts to purchase, so I enjoyed the luxury of browsing, taking the time to notice things that may have escaped my attention on a task-driven pursuit.
As you would expect, I found myself in a department store. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed signage that read “a.n.a® – a new approach,” advertising a clothing line designed for women. I smiled as I thought of Ana Cuevas, a delightful team member who has served throughout my tenure and will succeed me in the role of Alliance Women national director, effective July 1, 2023. Yes, Ana will bring a new approach to Alliance Women. Praise God!
As I anticipate this leadership transition in 2023, I celebrate the opportunities that change brings. New beginnings. Fresh ideas. I celebrate the unique perspective that Ana will bring to the ministry of Alliance Women, shaped by her life experience. I affirm her giftings that are different from mine. A new approach, indeed, that will continue to move us forward in our desire to bring all of Jesus to all the world.
As we begin the year 2023 with 40 Days of Prayer, I humbly request that you intercede for both Ana and me as we individually and collectively listen to our Heavenly Father, asking that His will be done and His Kingdom come on earth, in the lives of Alliance women, as it is in heaven.
I am praying Isaiah 54:2 over myself, Ana, and Alliance Women for 2023:
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”
Enlarge—Pray for increased ownership and engagement among Alliance women in 2023 as I conclude my tenure and Ana commences hers.
Stretch—Pray for a fresh wind from the Holy Spirit that increases our capacity to welcome and invite women into our personal lives and corporate fellowship.
Do not hold back—Pray for increased faith and boldness. We desire to resist both fear and apathy.
Lengthen—Pray for an expansion of Kingdom impact both locally and globally. We believe that the gospel transforms communities and is for all people.
Strengthen—Pray for unity and an ever-deepening love for Jesus. In Christ alone, our strength and solidarity are found.
I invite you to do the same.
Thank you, Ana, for giving your “yes” to God. May you daily experience His everlasting kindness. God is for you, Ana. He is with you. He is in you. The one who called you is faithful, and He will do it (1 Thess. 5:24).
On Saturdays, pray for non-majority next generation leaders being trained through spiritual formation retreats.
BACKGROUND – MINISTRY TRANSITION
We are thankful! In the past, our Lord, through Alliance Women and the “forgivable loan” program, has provided valuable funding for non-majority college and seminary students to better equip them for work and ministry. This effort has had many beneficiaries.
As we transition to a new phase, we have faith that as Luke 14:22 says, “There is still room,” and we are grateful for the opportunity to obtain new funding from Alliance Women for our dreams.
Currently, 41% of C&MA churches are non-majority culture churches, and Sunday messages are preached across our nation in 38 languages, including American Sign Language. It is estimated that 50% or more of U.S. Alliance church members are non-majority culture people.
INTRODUCTION TO NEXT-GEN LEADERSHIP COHORTS
Starting in the summer of 2022, the Multicultural Ministries Office (MCM) of Church Ministries will begin hosting leadership development cohorts for Next-Gen leaders selected from the U.S. C&MA’s ethnically based districts (4) and associations (10). We desire to see younger ethnic leaders prepared to serve God in The Alliance. The cohorts will meet three times during an 18-month period. Each cohort meeting will be in the format of a three-day retreat.
MAIN PURPOSE – SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
Contrary to most training/equipping efforts, this program will not focus on skills, ministry, or organizational development. Instead, it will focus on spiritual development with the intent to prepare the participants for life’s challenges and to enable long-term sustainability in ministry.
The themes of the retreats are as follows:
- Retreat #1 – Mapping the Journey Towards
- Retreat #2 – Dealing with Adversity
- Retreat #3 – Heart Check
All related costs will be covered by the MCM Office. Airfare, lodging, meals, materials, and other related costs are estimated at $1,250 person. We expect up to 20 participants for an overall estimated cost of $25,000 per retreat.
Alliance Women has set a goal to raise $25,000 to cover the expenses of one retreat.
To participate in giving, visit www.alliancewomen.org/give. We also encourage your prayer support. Please be praying for the MCM Next-Gen Leadership Cohort participants and instructors.
No Rights Yet Recognizes Authority
“No rights, recognizes authority, works hard, and doesn’t expect recognition.” 
What a list! These are phrases from Jon Byler’s book, The Heart of Christian Leadership, describing the characteristics of a servant. As I read those phrases, I felt a sense of conviction. Do I really understand what servant leadership is?
In Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus made a clear distinction between the world’s view of leadership and His requirements for leadership: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, whoever wants to be first, must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
And just like that, Jesus took the words “great” and “first” and placed them in the same category as slave and servant!
Jesus wanted to make sure His followers were clear that whoever wanted to rule, must understand that a servant mentality was required, not an “I’m the boss” mentality. The world’s leadership view must be set aside completely and replaced with His view. And that brings me back to Jon Byler’s book. Out of the four characteristics, two stood out in my mind: recognizes authority and has no rights. Two characteristics that test the strings of love and obedience in the body of Christ.
A servant is under authority and recognizes that the position held is solely for the purpose of carrying out his master’s will. A servant’s plans are not his own; his ideas and efforts are strictly aligned with his master’s. Having a servant’s heart in leadership is recognizing that we, too, are under our Heavenly Father’s authority and under church leadership authority. A servant’s heart has a well-defined sense of submission to: His word, His kingdom and His will. Why? Simply because the authority is recognized as belonging to God first. If His word is truly our authority, the rest is viable.
Yet, we struggle. Just like the disciples struggled and became indignant when the mother of Zebedee’s sons asked Jesus for high positions in His kingdom for her sons.
Our all-knowing Savior made it simple for them and for us: if we wish to lead and be “great” or “first” we must become a servant. A servant, a slave. He used an image so powerful that there was no question what it meant: submission. That simple truth opens the path to servant leadership. Selfless work becomes the norm as the only desire is to do the Master’s will.
If authority is a struggle in leadership, we must ask the difficult question: whose authority are we really under and whose desire are we seeking?
“A servant doesn’t demand his rights, he has none.” 
When I read this particular characteristic, I had to truly meditate on this. In our culture, from childhood it is ingrained in us that we have rights. We have a right to free speech, a right to worship, a right to bear arms, a right to assemble, a right to vote and so on. That is why when we grasp Jesus’ standard of servant leadership, setting rights aside truthfully poses a heart challenge.
But Jesus’ words place the focus back on the essence of service, “He came not to be served but to serve.” Matthew 20:28. Our Savior laid aside His glory, hHs privilege, and His throne to serve humanity. A servant leader will have to come to terms with the reality that if Jesus gave up His rights for us, we too, will be called to relinquish our rights. There will be moments as servant leaders that we may have to give up our right to defend our point for the sake of peace. We will be called to let love triumph over the right to prove our idea or plan is best. In the name of unity, we will be called to forsake our right to an opinion.
Servant leaders look to Christ for perception; only then can we surrender our rights.
And that’s because rights take on another meaning under the light of Christ’s servanthood: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.” Isaiah 53:7-8.
We enjoy the gift of salvation, purpose, and a living hope because Jesus willingly set aside His rights for us and humbly submitted to His Father’s will.
Do I really understand what servant leadership is? I’m learning! And every day I am given a new opportunity to love, to submit, and to obey.
 John Byler, The Heart of Christian Leadership, LeadersServe, 2010