Women of Influence
I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a woman of influence, someone whose life, words and actions influences others. Who are those people who have influenced us as women to be strong leaders, to courageously follow God's adventurous plan for us, to lean hard on Jesus and to become women of God who stand strong for His purposes? There were women along the way in my life who were my champions, my cheerleaders-they were women who challenged me to meet my potential; they were examples of godly womanhood who were unassuming and not even intentionally mentoring me.
I started pondering this a few months ago when I was asked who was mentoring me as part of a women's retreat conversation. I didn't initially have a good answer to this question....But, sometimes we make mentoring and discipleship into a program that people sign up for and the truth is it's really better when it's an organic relationship and we learn from someone simply by being with them.
I never really thought I would be a leader but other people saw that potential in me and it's their influence and mentoring that made me who I am today. I remember my InterVarsity leader, Shelly Trebesh, sitting me down as a college freshman and asking me why I wasn't leading a Bible study. I was thinking, ummmm, because I'm a freshman? and I don't know what I'm doing? Can't I just be led for a while first? Boy, did she have to work hard to get me to realize that I already had what it took to lead a small group - I had a deep relationship with Jesus and willingness to learn. Shelly's leadership gave me an example to follow and eventually inspired me to become a missionary.
My speech and debate teacher/coach, Debbie Rice, inspired me to try something completely unknown, something pretty intimidating (Lincoln-Douglas competitive debating) and I found for the first time in high school that I had a strength. Debbie Rice pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me learn how to research controversial topics, defend a viewpoint and be persuasive which built my confidence and made me think I wanted to be a lawyer (glad I didn't follow through on that on though!) Debbie Rice took a smart, insecure girl and made her into a powerhouse debater because she encourage my passion to speak publicly, and I'm grateful for her influence!
Without those two women in my life, I might not have had the confidence to speak publicly or the courage to lead others. I'm glad they saw God's gifting in me and encouraged me to be exactly who God made me to be. Since I've moved around so much, I don't believe either of these women know the impact they had upon my future life and where I've ended up now, which is often the case.
We usually don't have any idea if we've influenced someone or made a valuable impression upon them.
My grandma was the type of mentor to me that a grandma should me - it was simply her life example that spoke volumes. Whenever we would visit her, she had an old spiral notebook that she kept open on the kitchen table all day long and she would keep going back to it and jotting new things down. I didn't realize it at first, but this was her prayer journal and this was her lifestyle of continual prayer for those around her. She led a very simple life but as I asked her questions, I began to realize she was an amazing strong woman example for me. A lady who came to age in the 1940's and pursued her master's in counseling so she could minister to missionaries while they were on furlough, she had a passion for prayer, for people and for learning.
In my life, I've always wanted to be a woman of influence and I've pursued it with vigor at times because I desperately wanted to please God, to serve Him and share His hope with others. I wanted to make a BIG difference in this world and to see people come to Christ because I was faithfully sharing His good news. Although my heart was in the right place when I led women's Bible studies, flew off to Ukraine for a few years, started a writing and speaking ministry, etc. I wonder if I minimized the real ways that I can have influence.
God's given me the opportunity to be an influence in 3 young people's lives and that's probably the greatest way I can made a difference in this world. It isn't big and it isn't flashy but if my life is an example of faithful obedience to Christ, it will make a difference (I just might not always know how!)
Being a woman of influence means being a star in the sky that shines brightly of what God can do in a woman's life when she is fully committed to Him. It's about seeing everything He made me to be and being completely committed to His purpose for me, not giving up, not giving in and not changing course unless He whispers in my ear and then being a person who follows His lead.