Last week, I was honored to speak to the Pee Dee Business & Professional Women’s Networking Group at their monthly luncheon. This was my topic. I hope that it blesses you as you continue to bless others with the ripple effect of your life.
The Value of Our Leadership Choices As Women
It is thrilling to look out across this room and imagine the potential in each one of you. There are 43 women listed in our directory. I would guess the average age is around 45. If we assume that each of us will live to the age of 75 before we die, that is a combined total of 1,290 years of influence in this room. What can we do with 1,290 years? We can change the world.
I believe we are all born to do great things, with dreams and destiny in our hearts. I believe we each have stunning potential. Some of us don’t feel that way. Some of us have trouble believing …that we can do more!
We will always live out what we truly believe. You may say you believe one thing, but what you truly believe will be seen in your words, actions, and decisions.
I grew up with some wrong beliefs about what it meant to be a girl. I took those beliefs into adulthood and lived them out in things like poor choices, low paying jobs, and a 20 year abusive marriage. I always tried hard to make things better, but kept finding myself struggling. I felt empty, tired, and insignificant…wondering if I’d ever make it. And somehow I knew I wasn’t alone in my struggle.
I finally hit a breaking point and let myself get mad at God. Yep. I asked Him some hard questions and found that He was big enough to handle my honesty. I asked, “Will you show me how YOU see women, and how YOU see ME as a woman?”
From that point, the Lord began showing me my true value and significance. It felt like I was getting it by teaspoonfuls – It was not an easy journey. A lot of forgiveness was necessary, but it was like I could feel God writing the story of who I was on my heart. My story had not changed, but had almost gotten lost along the way.
For years I pressed in and learned more about the Godly significance of women and God showed me what He was calling me to do. That was in 2005, and I have prayed into the vision for 8 years. This year Sozo Life and Leadership was born. I feel like I’ve been in labor and watched God birth something wonderful. It’s like I can almost hear Heaven shouting “Yay, it’s a girl!”
The purpose of Sozo Life & Leadership is to come alongside women in business, church, and civic groups through coaching, teaching, and prayer using biblical principles to develop and expand their leadership potential to bring into reality the vision God has placed in their hearts.
As I began to take the idea for this company forward, I knew I had to take a hard look at the women of the Bible from a fresh perspective. I found more than I’d ever been taught growing up in church.
Contrary to traditional teaching, the women of the Bible were outstanding examples of strength, even though their actions were sometimes contrary to the accepted culture of their day. (Sound familiar?) I found risk takers, women who held onto hope with things looked darkest, many who placed their lives in the hands of others to save a nation.
There were women who risked their very reputations and livelihood to ask for more. They were daring, they took initiative, they were courageous leaders whose contributions have many times been downplayed, ignored, or taught with error…simply because they were women.
Jesus accepted women as disciples with many paying his way, and turned the culture of His day on its ear as he taught that a woman’s identity and purpose is valued and secure as His creation – above any worldly definition.
And yet we still see women who are hesitant or held back. I see women who suffer from what I call “suppression of success” because of their belief system about whether or how women should lead. I believe the one of the main reasons women don’t always move forward with pursuits is because they don’t have knowledge of their true identity and value.
You were created to lead alongside men – not in competition, but with leadership that brings what only you can bring to the table or the business or the classroom or the doctor’s office or the bank or the senior care facility or the non-profit organization…anywhere you are called to be.
They were given the same assignment to work together, to lead together with each bringing their different attributes.
Made in God’s image gives you an assignment to go out, do what you do best, increase your skills, and grow yourself to become the leader you were created and specifically designed to be.
I remember as a child seeing someone skip a stone across a pond. They showed me how to choose a flat stone, how to angle my hand just so, pull back and release it. Or course, my first attempts just plopped into the water. I had to learn how to use what I held in my hand to make it bounce and skip across the surface of the water.
As I practiced, I learned and before too long, I was making that flat stone bounce 6 or 7 times before gravity finally pulled it beneath the water’s surface.
Every place the stone bounced sent out little ripples that spread out in circle after circle. Your life is like that – what do you hold in your hand that can touch and affect the places and lives around you with a ripple effect?
You can be that smooth stone, that with increased accuracy and skill continues on and on, touching the lives of where you are, leaving an impact in many places.
We all live affecting the lives of those around us, living out what we truly believe, for better or for worse. What kinds of ripples are you sending out? Growth is not automatic and never has to stop. No matter how old or experienced you are, you can still grow and learn.
I believe when women understand their value, significance, and true identity, everyone around them is blessed because when you know your value, you give it away by adding value to others. When you know your true identity, you help build people.
But here’s the kicker: you can’t give away what is not yours. So if you don’t know who you are, if you still question your validity, if in your thoughts you put yourself down, then you need to more fully understand your true value.
You are leaders. Every leadership choice you make not only has great value, but creates a ripple effect that goes on and on to touch the lives of those around you – your employees, your families, your community. What affect do you want your life to have? Weigh your choices carefully for they just may have eternity in them. Just like you do.
Remember, God created you in His image and said it was a very good idea. You are precious and valuable to Him, and the rest of us need what only you can bring. Just like that stone that skips across the water, you hold in your hand things that will leave a lasting impact.
You are amazing. You are…amazing. Let this truth soak deep in your spirit. You are amazing.
Back in 1999, I went on a retreat. I knew God wanted me alone with Him for a purpose. I called relatives who had a beach front condo and it was available the very week I wanted to go. From the moment I arrived I knew this time would be different. Having always loved the beach, I couldn’t wait to get my feet on the sand. Even though it was after dark, I headed out barefoot, guided by the sound of the waves and the porch light. To my amazement, I walked right up to a whole whelk shell. I picked it up and said out loud, “I’ve never found a whole one before!” And just as clearly, I heard God speak to me, “I can make you whole.”
This is that shell. Even though that was 14 years ago, God has been faithful to continue to make me whole, helping me build His truth into my belief system and make good decisions based on the real value I have inside. I am now living a different life, knowing that the ripple effects I leave today are better than those long ago.
This is your story, too. You can find your value, increase your skills, and continue to unpack your fullest life. Not an easy journey, but so worth it. Because when you were born, all of Heaven was glad and shouted, “Yay, it’s a girl!”
(c) Robin Lawrimore, August 2013
Many thanks to….