How far have you come on your journey in leadership? I wonder what has stood in your way. Lack of encouragement, lack of investment, outright hostility, lack of confidence?
Naturally there are the theological questions that women are asking. But they also want to know what to do with the gifts that God has given them; they ask what godly influence, what leadership, looks like in the responsibilities in the workplace, the community, the home and, yes, in the church. Many feel a call that inspires and compels them, but also that isolates or frustrates them. Some want to serve God but feel that their God-given gifts and qualities are more recognized outside the church than within it. Some feel like missionaries in the workplace and community and home without the empowering, supportive commission from their wider church family.
Other women recognize that they need some input on being a woman with influence, but they are unsure where to go to find it. They want to know who God designed them to be and what that could look like. They want to know how the things going on inside, in their hearts and minds, shape the life they lead on the outside. Where do they go to process the loneliness and temptations they face, and how that affects their calling? Where do they admit their struggles with sexual temptation, greed and insecurity? They know that these questions are too intimate to ask male peers and mentors. They see a need for a place where they can be transparent and vulnerable about the challenges of leadership, but how do they do that when they are busy being responsible for everyone else? And where do they go for encouragement and accountability with their calling and passions and big impossible dreams? Who invests in them but also challenges them? Who walks with them on the journey, giving advice and insights on simply how to do it? So many questions.
When we feel we have nowhere to go with this question, it’s easy to feel frustrated, disillusioned and distracted. If we don’t see other women in churches or communities processing the same questions or even ones a few steps ahead, it’s easy to feel lonely. So while our hearts say yes to God, and continue to do so, they remain paralyzed by questions that we simply can’t find answers for. . . .
Like you, I long to see women given more opportunities to realize their God-given call and potential. However, as part of that I want to see women given all that they need. We don’t just need opportunity; we need the capacity to thrive as leaders—and again that is largely a work that takes place internally. I want to see women given the kind of investment that empowers them so they have energy, capacity and, frankly, desire to be influential leaders throughout their lives. Even through to the beautiful old age of 102! Opportunities and skills development do play a significant role in that. But there are more things to consider, the hidden things such as getting secure in our God-given identity, working out our calling, working on our character, dealing with past hurts. We’ll need to reflect on how busy we get and whether it makes us more effective.
We’ll need to consider our approach to working with other women, as well as working alongside men. We’ll need to think about relationships, friendships, accountability. We’ll need to understand how different seasons of life shape our leadership, and how to remain open to God and flexible with life throughout it all. We’ll need to consider how we keep Jesus at the center of it all. . .
It may be hard, even painful, to look at what it means for you to be an influential woman. It may tap into all kinds of frustrations, memories and wounds. It may feel as though we’re in the dark, grasping for the Lord’s wisdom. But do it anyway. Discover again who he’s called you to be, who he always made you to be. Engage with him on this: it will be a valuable process that will both strengthen and mature you, and ultimately liberate you.
So when you’re ready, start to move . . .
Slowly but surely work your way out of the chrysalis. Let God’s purposes unfold, spread your wings, look toward the Son and then—fly.
Taken from More Than Enchanting: Breaking Through Barriers to Influence Your World by Jo Saxton. Copyright(c) 2012 by Jo Saxton. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press PO Box 1400 Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.