Training Women to be Equals
By Anita Carman
“I welcome you as an equal!”
At 16, my sons got their first drivers’ licenses. At 18, they voted for the first time. Now in their twenties, they work hard to support themselves. I don’t know exactly when it happened but, it’s clear in looking at them now, that at some point in between all those moments, they had grown up. Not in age, necessarily, but in maturity. Not in knowledge about the world, but in the wisdom to confront it. Gone were the days when I felt the need to warn them about life. While once I might have been their rock, they have grown to where we have become each other’s rocks. When I look at them now, I swell with pride to see the men they have become, but I can’t help but wonder–did this development just happen or are leaders grown through intention and a vision of the end goal in mind?
Recently at a staff meeting at Inspire Women, I reminded the team that as long as they are serving with us, they will be trained to think like a leader. We often instruct them to “put on their leadership hat.” At Inspire Women, putting on your leadership hat means acting selflessly and in the best interest of the organization and the mission that it serves. It means thinking globally about how a new policy or change will affect the ministry as a whole or God’s kingdom as a whole, rather than how it may affect any one individual personally. The reason we stress leadership-oriented thinking so highly is because our objective is to train up selfless individuals that we can be proud of to send out to serve in any organization or ministry around the world. These women are individuals who not only have more than a proficiency in various tasks, but they have the vision and drive to be a benefit to any organization. In the same way a graduate of West Point conjures up the image of excellence and a discipline to finish well, my prayer is that students and leaders that have spent time at Inspire Women will one day conjure up images of selflessness, effectiveness, and sold-out devotion to God with the courage to boldly lead their flock wherever God is directing. In order to do so, I believe it’s important to have a clear vision of what the student will look like when the training is complete.
For us, the core competencies we pray to impart to any woman in our programs are:
- A humble spirit. A humble spirit to serve as a servant, meaning no matter how gifted you are, you believe your gifts are entrusted to you by God and you accept them with humility and an accountability to use them responsibly for the benefit of others.
- Ability to finish what you started. A tenacity to finish what you started, meaning you have the staying power and the discipline to keep going in spite of setbacks.
- Serving out of God’s love for you. Experiencing a joy that comes from serving from a heart that overflows with God’s love for you, meaning you are not on a performance treadmill trying to earn approval, but you serve out of giving your life back to God who first loved you abundantly.
I recall the day God called me out to lead my own Sunday school class after serving as a leader in Beth Moore’s class for seven years. On that day, she said to me, “Today, I welcome you as an equal.” I did not understand her words of affirmation then, but I fully understand them now. I believe this statement should be the end goal of any developer of leadership potential.
As I ponder God’s words in Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” the statement carries an intimate dimension when I think of the end goal to develop leaders who are not hired help, but serve as God’s sons and daughters to mirror His values and mission. In the same way the day came when I could look my sons in the eyes adult-to-adult and say to them, “I welcome you as an equal,” I pray for the day when I can look to all the staff of Inspire Women, and we can all welcome each other as equals to share the challenges of changing this world for Christ.