From the moment she first gave her life to Christ, Jeannette Mulhause was passionate about two things: following God and taking people with her on the journey. This journey eventually led her into vocational ministry, the natural progression of following the Lord’s call and other people looking to her as a leader.
A pastor for the past decade on the staff of New Life Center (Bakersfield Southwest Foursquare Church) in Bakersfield, Calif., Jeannette, who is married to her husband, Kevin, and has one adult son, Julian, was appointed this summer as the church’s executive pastor—the first time in the congregation’s history a woman has filled that role.
“Senior Pastors James and Lydia Ranger,” Jeannette tells Foursquare.org, “both feel that when you recognize the call of God on someone’s life, there is a responsibility to be a ‘dream releaser’ and help in placing him or her where he or she can best be utilized for the kingdom of God.”
Will her new role be a challenge? No doubt. But she has worked with Pastor James for years, so she is comfortable she will be able to assist him in implementing his vision for New Life Center as well as helping to lead and shepherd the staff. She has also discovered one of the most important keys to leading in ministry successfully.
“I know that God doesn’t call the equipped—He equips the called,” Jeannette insightfully shares, “and He will give me what I need wherever He has me serve. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a leader is to hold church ministries lightly and with an open hand.”
One of the aspects of ministry she has always enjoyed most is helping people discover who they are, how God has gifted them, and what their niche is in the body of Christ.
“I really have a passion for finding what their passion and joy is, and then watching them fulfill their roles,” affirms Jeannette, telling the story of one man, a personal trainer, who started participating in the congregation and wanted to get more involved. He had tried to offer his services at other area churches, but they didn’t see the value of his vision. New Life Center, however, saw the potential immediately.
“Our church was excited,” recalls Jeannette. “He found a partner within our church and started a program called Fit Club to help people become healthy in body and spirit. Here is a man who was allowed to take what he does for a living in the marketplace and use that talent to glorify God. You should see how happy he is! And I know the Lord is pleased. I’m seeing the church body benefit from the vision he was given.”
How does Jeannette spot potential leaders? She keeps her eyes open for certain qualities as she interacts with others. When a person comes to her with a concern of some kind, for example, and presents a possible solution, he or she immediately has Jeannette’s attention as a potential leader, because, she notes, anyone can point out a problem, but not many are willing to take the next step and come up with a way to solve it.
She also keeps her eyes open for people who take initiative, even in seemingly small matters such as making a suggestion or moving chairs around to better facilitate a meeting. Leaders see things others don’t, she points out, and are willing to act on what they see.
“I know we’ve all heard this, but leadership is really about influence,” Jeannette explains. “People will listen to a person and follow him or her, even if he or she doesn’t hold a title, when that person has a spiritual gift of leadership. I have seen it over and over again.
“It’s important when we see that type of influence in people,” she continues, “that we come alongside them, help them grow and mature spiritually and develop that gift, and give them a place in the body of Christ. They will use their influence somewhere, so why not for the glory of God? Many times, though, we really need to call it out and coach them in how to use their gifts in the church.”
When asked what is the most important thing to remember when considering what one’s ministry to the body of Christ might be, the executive pastor’s advice is simple, profound and inspiring.
“Really and truly, the Lord will make space for you,” Jeannette encourages, “no matter what your gender, color, financial status or anything else is. If you’re called, you are called. That’s pretty much it.”
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles