Written by Christie Love, LeadHer Founder
Recently, I had a conversation with a person about LeadHer and our vision to challenge women to grow in their faith and leadership. I shared with her about how our organization is structured and focused to reach women around the world, she listened politely as I spoke. When I had finished she sat quietly a moment before responding, “Well that’s nice, but do you really think that challenging women matters?”
I sat there stunned for a moment before asking her to clarify, “What do you mean does it matter?”
“I just mean that you’re not feeding orphans or rescuing sex trafficking victims. Do you really think that you’re making a difference in the world just by challenging women to be better leaders?”
It’s not the first time that I’ve been asked a similar question…and it won’t be the last. In a culture where there are so many important causes to consider giving your time and energy to- it’s easy to compare and rank one cause as more worthy or effective than another.
However, I would argue it’s not a matter of ranking but of calling. We need to be giving and going based on what God has burdened our hearts for. For me, that issue is women and in my mind women matter very much. No, we many not being doing something that is headline grabbing but we are raising up women to have the courage and skills to respond to the headlines and meet needs in their communities and around the world.
I have no doubt that we are making a difference. Allow me to share with you the difference that can be made through encouraging and activating women:
- Women make a difference when they are challenged to discover and use their gifts and talents. I once had a conversation with a 60 year old woman who was a part of a LeadHer chapter who told me she had been in church her entire life but had never once had someone help her find her spiritual gifts. She had only ever been encouraged to serve in the areas of hospitality or the nursery. She was amazed to find that she was gifted in the area of administration. This new insight not only challenged her to explore new areas of ministry and service and also helped her to see herself in a new ways with fewer limitations.
- Women make a difference when they are challenged to step outside of their comfort zone. I have seen women of all ages and life stages take some amazing steps of faith to follow where they felt God was leading them to use their passions to impact the world for Him. I have seen college students change majors to pursue training for medical missions. I have watched single moms start an outreach to provide community and resources to other single moms in her community. I have seen women go to the remote parts of the world as part of long and short-term mission teams. I have seen women host food drives in their workplace, clothing drives in their churches, and shoe collections in their communities to meet the needs of others. When the heart of a woman is touched by a need they are often activated to sacrifice and step out to do what they can to help meet that need!
- Women make a difference when they are challenged to be a leader with their giving. In 2015 The Wall Street Journal reported research that showed women are more likely to give more often and greater amounts to charitable causes. When we challenge a woman to grow, we also challenge her to be a wise and obedient steward with her resources and give to the causes that align with her passions. This means that by challenging women we are activating new givers for hundreds of other amazing causes and needs worldwide.
- Women make a difference when they are challenged to see needs in their own neighborhoods. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 report on Volunteering, “women continued to volunteer at a
higher rate than men.” When women are challenged to look at the needs around them in new ways and are also challenged to intentionally do something to meet that need… They tend to rise to the call. We have seen LeadHer members get more involved in their communities by volunteering at; local pregnancy care centers, food pantries, homeless ministries, sex trafficking outreach, providing for needy families, cooking meals at Ronald McDonald houses, meeting the practical needs of single moms, cleaning up local schools, mentoring at-risk teens, and more.
- Women make a difference when they are challenged to live out their witness day after day with the people they do life with. Women, by design, are relational in nature. Often their lives cross paths with others throughout the course of her week: our family, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, community members. When you challenge a woman to grow she inherently will be sharing that message with other by her example.
- Women make a difference when they are challenged to let God use them to start new works. History is full of stories of women who God used as the catalyst to create new avenues for his grace and mercy to flow into a hurting world;
- Catherine Booth helped to co-found the Salvation Army in 1865 to minister to those on the fringes struggling with poverty and addiction.
- Clara Barton founded the Red Cross in 1881.
- Lottie Moon helped to found the Women’s Mission Union in 1888 and in 2015 the annual missions offering in her memory raised $165.8 million dollars
- Harriet Tubman managed to escape slavery herself and then helped more than 300 other slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad.
- Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during WW2. Her beloved sister Betsie succumbed to illness in the camp and died while Corrie was released on a clerical error. Corrie went on to share a powerful message of love and forgiveness around the world as well as convert the former camp to a rehabilitation center for former prisoners.
- Amy Carmichael founded an orphanage in India in 1901 and helped to save countless children in that nation who had no one to care for them.
- Dr. Helen Roseveare was a medical missionary to the Congo during the 1950s and 60s. She endured great suffering to help set up a hospital and training center.
- Mother Teresa founded the Mission of Charity to minister to the sick and dying in India in 1950.
- Katie Davis was just a teenager when she first went to Uganda and saw the need there. Shortly after she helped to have more than 700 children there sponsored, set up feeding programs for more than 1,000 local children, personally adopted 13 orphaned girls, and founded a ministry in Uganda that provides medical care and teaches the Gospel to the people in her area.
- Christine Caine and her husband Nick co-founded the A21 organization in 2008 and they have helped to raise awareness for the issue of human trafficking worldwide as well as rescued thousands of victims and trained countless law enforcement officers globally.
- Women make a difference when they are challenged to inspire a new generation of girls to lead. When women are challenged to see that their voice has value and that others can learn from their experiences they are more willing to pour into the next generation through mentoring! The Mentoring Effect reports that having a mentor leads to young adults who are; more likely to attend College, be involved in extracurricular activities, and aspire for leadership roles. By challenging women to be intentional about investing in a younger woman as a mentor we have the capacity to activate the next generation to grow as well!
So, to the woman who asked me over coffee and for anyone else who questions, YES women matter and YES focusing on challenging women to grow does make a difference!!!
Whether it is through a LeadHer Local chapter or another organization that is focused on women… It is important that everyone understands that big things happen when we invest in the development of women worldwide! Remember this: When you activate one woman you start an eternal ripple effect, impacting her and the lives of every person that she does life with.