Sandra Grey 


presented to the congregation during the morning worship service on Sunday 01/01/2017


An ordinary woman on a journey to leadership

As many of you know I hail from London but perhaps fewer people know how difficult I have found it to settle in Yarmouth.  I have always felt that God wanted me here but have frequently questioned why
In 2015 I walked the beach with a friend talking through my frustrations.  What I saw as my lack of purpose and direction.  I’d been here 3 years.  Life was fine.  Business was going well.  The kids were happy and doing well at school.  But I still felt like a square peg trying to squeeze into a round hole.  We ended up sitting in St George’s Park and our discussion turned to a vision for me within church leadership.  It was one of those occasions when, in hindsight, I am quite glad that God stepped in and edited what went through my head before it left my mouth.  And so “Yeah, right, you’re ‘avin’ a laugh!” came out as “Really! That’s interesting”
Anyway, we concluded our conversation as we both had days to get on with.  We prayed together and then parted company.  I felt better for having talked things through but can’t honestly say that I’d reached any conclusions
I’d almost forgotten that conversation, until May 2016 when I visited Walsingham during a half term family break away.  Before going away, I’d sent an email to Peter, metaphorically throwing my toys out of the pram as regards to CAP.  I was struggling with balancing business, family, and CAP and found myself fighting against the idea of taking a lead role for the CAP money course. I felt there was simply too much to do and in truth I was feeling a little lumbered.  I promised Pete that I would think things through whilst I was away and chat with him on our return
During our visit to Walsingham these thoughts came to the forefront of my mind.  I found myself sitting on a cold stone seat in a recess in one of the shrines, staring at a painting of a number of women.  I can’t recall which shrine or the name of the chapel and despite my best efforts on the internet I still don’t know the title of the painting.  But I knew those women were strong and that they were Women of God.  I knew that God had plans for them and work for them to do and that in His strength, these women had stepped up to the plate.  And in that stillness, that quiet, I knew that God had plans for me, “plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).  I’d picked that quote from the tree that Claire and Marilyn had put at the back of the church sometime before and it still hangs in my office
I believe that during this short time, the Lord spoke to me and instructed me to lead, to encourage, to facilitate, to strengthen, to comfort, and to guide.  The one thing he did not tell me was to DO IT ALL.  Now that is not to say that one doesn’t lead by example.  To comfort and guide, we must come alongside on a journey.  To facilitate means we must clear the way and encourage others to shine
What the Lord’s leadership didn’t mean was steam ahead and do it all.  In that quiet, unassuming corner of Norfolk, the Lord began to teach me what it meant to be a servant leader.  And I came away refreshed and quietly exhilarated, suddenly aware that my husband and children must be wondering what had become of me and may well be close to sending out a search party!
So that was it.  Mission accomplished.  I accept my leadership role on the CAP money course.  Life would settle down.  I could get comfortable – and perhaps work on leadership skills
Uh-uh. This time it was the Lord saying to me “ You’re havin’ a laugh, if you think that’s it!”

Fast forward to 2016 and the selection of new deacons – not a problem for me.  I’m sure whoever is elected will be the most appropriate person
The change began during a series of sermons working through 1 Corinthians.  And a couple of weeks in particular spoke to me regarding the role of women in the church.  I can’t remember how many times I have studies 1 Corinthians, but on this occasion it seems the Lord had a particular message for me that was both liberating and challenging.  Chapters 11 and 14 led me to thinking about leadership in his strength and perhaps more scarily, the equality of women in leadership
I confess I’ve been quite comfortable, thank you very much, in the notion that women were to be submissive within the church – but now I was becoming increasingly aware that submitting to God’s will did not mean being a passenger on the journey – that if called to do so, both men and women must be ready to step up to the plate ......... and drive the mission train!
Early in November Maxine, for the final time, appealed for nominations for deacons.  Again in my head the response was “I’m sure there’ll be nominations – just as long as you don’t come knocking at my door”.  And again the Lord spoke to me through the message that week – continuing through Corinthians – and saying – “why not?  This is where you’re needed.  You’re capable and if I want you to do this, will I not equip you accordingly?”
I was not ready to accept this and laid out my fleece – not with gentleness and decorum.  With no sense of graceful acceptance what so ever.  It was with an arms folded sense of “I don’t believe you and just to prove it I’m gonna challenge you – if this is truly you speaking to me then get real ‘cos I can’t nominate myself, so I guess you’ll just need someone to come and ask me the question”
Phil was a little late to pick me up that week so I went into the hall for a coffee and low and behold, coffee came with a question.  Once again God intervened and edited what was in my head so it came out as “Can we meet for coffee during the week and talk about this. Why do you feel compelled to ask me – of all people”
I met up with Elizabeth and had a lovely chat over coffee. We talked about how our individual journeys had brought us to this point and both concluded that I should probably stop fighting and follow where God was leading me – faithful in the assurance that he will equip me and strengthen me
I accepted the nomination with the caveat that the vote of church members was the final chance for the Lord to close the door if I’d got this wrong
He did not.  And, the rest, as they say, is (very recent) history
The church leadership had an away day shortly after the vote.  It was an incredibly moving, emotional and spiritually enriching time for me. And it has to be said, we had a laugh too
This day gave me a sense of belonging; being part of a team.  I felt, probably for the first time, a sense of equality. That I was more than just making up the numbers – I was there for a purpose.  God’s purpose
The messages from that day spoke to me of courage; of the assurance of God’s constant guidance and resting in His strength; that all God required of me was a willingness to serve; to listen; and to learn
I have no idea where 2017 will take me or Park Baptist Church, but I come to you with an attitude of leadership through service – with Jesus as my example.  I will listen and learn and endeavour to faithfully serve my Lord and his people