Written by Holly Madden, LeadHer Local Director. Connect with Holly on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

Slavery. This word has tragically become a constant throughout our history. I will never understand the choice one human being makes to put a price tag on another, but it happens every moment of every day. Slavery takes on many forms, but one definition we understand is that slavery is limited or absent freedom. War, sex, labor, money, and drugs are among the many reasons slavery exists, yet, slavery is not always a physical posture but it can be an emotional and mental prison. While many of us enjoy the freedom of this country, we remain slaves to expectation, addiction, perfection, emotion, and limitation. These emotional and mental barriers can become prison walls that trap us in a routine and a belief that we somehow are called to less. It is often in this self-made prison that we compromise our leadership.

I have lost count of how many women I have talked with who have shared their prisons with me, shame from past abuse or mistakes, brokenness from divorce, guilt from addiction, weariness from a busy schedule, or an addiction to perfection and approval. When asked if they see themselves as leader, the answer is always, no. Slavery and leadership cannot coexist. These roles remain in sharp contrast of one another. It is in this place that we also compromise the leadership of others because we cannot call out the leader in another if we don’t believe in the leader in ourselves.

God calls us to freedom. This freedom is one we don’t have to earn. Jesus surrendered on the cross so we could be free. Free to lead. Free to speak up. Free to worship. Free to love. Free to heal.

But freedom is not selfish. We cannot accept this freedom without seeing the slavery in existence around us. Our freedom calls us to action.

I will always be amazed by the story of Harriet Tubman, a woman who ran away to find freedom, then put her life and freedom at risk to rescue from slavery hundreds of other slaves. She lived out the Gospel of freedom by sharing freedom with others. She once wrote that, “I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” Many times, slavery is experienced in silence. And many times, freedom is lived out in silence.

I challenge you to open your eyes to see the chains of slavery in your own life. Why do you still carry around the shame, the guilt, the mistakes, the addictions, and the fear? By no means is freedom a one time decision, but freedom is gained when we choose to fight for what God has given to us. Fight for your freedom, and then help others fight for their freedom.

Our LeadHer Local Chapters are talking about the topic of The Practice of Prayer this month and I found myself blown away by some of the prayers that I’ve heard prayed over the last week. Prayers by a teacher for a student who ran away, prayers by a volunteer fighting for the freedom of women and children caught in sex trafficking, prayers by a high school student praying for opportunities to show the love and friendship of Jesus to her peers in the LGBTQ community, and prayers from an addict praying for the freedom of other addicts. What if we truly made it a practice to pray bold prayers for freedom? What if we lived out our freedom through our bold prayers that influence bold action? What if we spent our freedom fighting for the freedom of others? God calls us to live in freedom, embrace the freedom He’s given you and share it with everyone around you.