I was seven years old when I remember organizing the ragamuffin group of kids from the neighborhood to put on a circus event for our parents and friends on the swing set in our backyard. It was not uncommon for me to write plays, cast unsuspecting kids in lead roles, direct the whole thing, and offer lemonade and butter cookies after the performance. These early signs of leadership meant nothing to me at the time, except for the sting when some neighbor boy stomped his foot and shouted, “You’re too bossy!” and marched his little self-back home. There was no Sheryl Sandberg in the 1970s telling me my bossiness was a sign of great executive leadership potential.
As a teenager growing up in a Baptist church, I watched as my mother, an exceptional leader, and teacher, was told that she could lead and teach children, teenagers, women, or senior citizens, but she could not teach or lead men. Unless she went to another country as a missionary – then she could, but not in the good old US of A. None of this made sense to me, and I found myself asking questions like, Are children or teenagers or senior citizens or foreigners less than men? If God had given her these gifts, why was she only allowed to use them with certain groups of people? Are we not all created equal?
These early experiences shaped me. They shaped my choices in choosing a college major and a career. They shaped my thinking and my behavior. They shaped how I chose a spouse and how I raise my daughter and my sons. They shape my choice of a church now and my decisions to invest my free time mentoring and empowering women to lean into who they were created to be.
OUR STORIES MATTER. They influence us more than we care to acknowledge. They influence our leadership every day. And before you say, “Well, I’m not a leader,” remember that a leader is someone who influences others, and I strongly believe that every single one of us does that daily. We are all leaders.
“You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.”
Matthew 5:16 VOICE
If you are up for a great adventure with God, find out more about life-mapping using “Listen to My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story” by visiting www.onelifemaps.com.