Sue Hodnett has been recognized by Michigan state representatives and the interfaith group She Leads Michigan.
On May 13, Hodnett was honored for her work as executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and women’s ministries for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for my ministry accomplishments in the category of Women in Christian Leadership,” Hodnett said.
She Leads Michigan encourages women to work together to offer faith-based solutions for modern-day challenges “during a time when the Lord is raising up women” in business, government, education, social issues, family, faith community, media, arts and entertainment.
Preparing to serve
“What really inspired me the most were the Christian influences in my life,” Hodnett said of her early life.
“My parents always stressed that I treat everyone with respect and love,” she recalled. “Integrity was taught through serving on leadership teams, working with coaches, teachers and mentors.
“As an adult, I still continue to. He puts me in places where there is a need and provides the resources to learn with compassion.”
Hodnett recognized God’s calling in 6th grade, she said. Raised in the Catholic church in Detroit, she began volunteering in a nursing home started by her grandmother. After graduation she gained experience by serving on the church council and as a certified recreational official with the Michigan Catholic Youth Association.
After marrying her husband, a Baptist, she started attending a Baptist church and within a few months committed her life to Christ.
“I served on every leadership position allowed for women to serve,” Hodnett remembered. “Because of OCD, which I consider a gift, I function better behind the scenes.”
Preparing for leadership
After serving on the Michigan WMU leadership team for more than 25 years, Hodnett was surprised in 2014 when she was recommended for the position of executive director. Within a year her duties included directing women’s ministries as well.
“I felt so underqualified, but God placed a volunteer team around me,” Hodnett recalled. “I read many books on leadership, took certification classes in leadership and received a certificate from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in church-based biblical counseling.”
Too often women are not encouraged in leadership roles, she lamented.
“I believe God wants women leaders in His church,” Hodnett asserted. “Women are needed to be the teacher, encourager, coach and a mentor to any woman who has a passion to serve.”
Hodnett noted women want to volunteer and serve others.
“I think the key to developing a volunteer team consists of sharing the stories of how our compassion ministries have helped someone,” she said. “Sharing the needs touches the heart of people. When they hear of the need, they are moved to help and provide resources. You motivate by affirming their calling.
“As volunteers, our passion is to come alongside women and help them … find Christ if they don’t already know Him, and just be there to encourage them. We know that if we touch the life of a woman, most of the time we’re touching the life of a whole family.”
“With the pandemic, we’ve had some bumps in the road,” Hodnett acknowledged. “Starting a ministry to women was a novel approach in metro Detroit.”
WMU opened in a small ministry in Shelby Township but had to change direction due to COVID-19. Just six weeks after opening, the center had to close its doors. Fortunately, much of the work could be continued through online video conferences, Hodnett said.
However, lessons were learned from the shutdown. One is that women have a real love and need for the Word. When they were confined at home, they wanted to be in life groups in studying the Bible.
Also, scheduling evening video calls after children were in bed allowed more women to be involved, Hodnett said.
“If God had not called me into this ministry, I would be spending more time with family … especially my grandbabies,” she said with a smile. “Or, I might be living a quiet life in our cabin in the woods.
“As much as that sounds like I would be content with that lifestyle, I know a small, still voice would be calling me to a form of ministry. I am called to help fulfill the Great Commission. As long as there is Kingdom work, I will be what God has called me to do.”