Written by Christie Love, Founder/Executive Director of LeadHer

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When I was younger, I loved to swim. I would be in the pool as often as a I could- often for hours at a time. Of the many things that I loved to do in the water- one of my favorite was trying to hold my breath and stay under water as long as I could. I would often practice by throwing a series of objects into the pool and allowing them to sink to the bottom before I would dive down and retrieve them, seeing how many of them I could get in one breath.

This skill became useful when I was about ten years old- my Grandfather sought out my help after dropping his wedding ring while swimming in the deep end of his apartment’s community pool. I vividly remember standing on the side of the ten foot section of the pool seeing this small ring and trying again and again to dive down and retrieve it. However, the bottom was always just out of my reach as my breath would give out and I would have to return to the surface over and over- empty handed.

Eventually, after more than an hour of unsuccessful attempts, darkness fell and my Grandfather told me that we could try again in the morning. I remember feeling so disappointed and angry at myself that night. Before going to bed my Grandfather said something to me that has forever stuck with me, “I believe that tomorrow you WILL reach the bottom of that pool- but even if you don’t I will love you still and be proud of you.” He was a man of few words- and that statement meant so much to me.

His statement communicated to me two things- 1) He believed in me more than I believed in myself. 2) His love for me was not performance based- he would love me in success and in failure.

This is one example from my own life of prophetic love– a concept that we are talking about this month in our LeadHer Local Chapters. Prophetic love sees the potential in others and helps to love it out of them through encouragement. This type of love understands that love is not something to be earned through good works or performance – but rather something to be given freely and expressed often. We all need people in our lives that are willing to love us like this and speak this kind of love into us. To come beside us in tough times and tell us that they see something in us that we cannot see in ourselves. To encourage us to keep striving, keep pushing. To help us up when we fall or fail as we try- all while encouraging us to not give up but try again.

Jesus modeled this type of love for us in his life and in his death.He believed in the potential of people so much that he came to earth to model for us the capacity that we have to influence and impact others through love. He loved us so much that he laid down his life for us. He loves us when we don’t deserve it. He loves us when we mess up. He loves us still…

I vividly remember how cold the water in my Grandfather’s pool was early the next morning as I dove back in- determined to bring that ring back to him. I will never forget the feeling of my fingers finally hitting the surface of the bottom of that pool after many more failed attempts. I can recall the joy that I felt as I carefully picked up the cold metal symbol of forty years of marriage that was laying only inches from the drain. When I came to the top of that water- I yelled, “I got it!” I can still see the look in his eye when he looked at me and said, “I knew you would!”

His love for me and his belief in me- created in me a belief in myself that made me want to succeed. I look back on that now- and think about how he modeled not only love for me that day- but also leadership.

As leaders- who are influencing and impacting others around us daily- our willingness to see what others do not see in themselves and to commit to continue to love and encourage “it” out of them will make a life long difference on those who are on the receiving end of that type of loving leadership. This is true as parents, teachers, nurses, ministers, friends, spouses, neighbors, co-workers, and any other leadership title that we can wear in life. Your willingness to love others well is your first step to leading others well.

When you experience the type of prophetic love that we are challenging women to develop this month- it changes you. It makes you start to fall in love with your own potential as well which in turn motivates you to never give up and to keep trying- not to please someone else- but rather to honor God and to be true to what He made you capable of.

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All this year, in our LeadHer Local chapters we are talking about #Mission365 a challenge to make Gospel-centered living and leading a daily lifestyle. This theme is encouraging women of all ages to be willing to keep their eyes focused on the example of how Jesus lived his life and the commands of how he calls us to live our own. To get involved- find or start a local chapter in your area!