Elisabeth Elliot has always been one of my favorite leading ladies. She may have inadvertently inspired me to become a missionary – I can’t say, for sure. But I’ve never grown weary of hearing her boldly speak the precepts of God. I’ve never tired of reading her ‘admonition’ style of writing.
She once very accurately said, “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian. But the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.”
From the moment we say the eternal “I do” to Jesus, we are forever more a different kind of woman. Born again by the Living God, given a new heart, a new mind, new desires, new hope, new purpose, new power, a new identity and a new future. We are women of a different breed.
Our lives have been forever altered for the purpose of influencing a culture – to shape a generation for such a time as this. We are ‘leading ladies’ in our homes, our churches, our schools, our workplaces, our communities and our countries. It’s a grand responsibility, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity. And we don’t want to blow it.
The Bible is full of leading women whose influence still echoes through the portals of time, serving as present inspiration.
Jochebed defied Pharaoh’s proclamation of infanticide when she hid her baby in a basket in hopes of tugging on the heartstrings of another leading lady, Pharaoh’s daughter.
Deborah stands alone in scripture as the only woman judge in Israel. Not only did she lead the nation in wisdom and judgment, she also inspired Barak’s (no – not as in Obama) faith and courage leading him to fight in a battle the Lord had promised to win. If you’re not sure who Barak is, look in Hebrews 11 where his name is forever memorialized in the roll call of faith (thanks to Deborah).
Rahab defied her people and opened the doors for the children of Israel to defeat Jericho. Abigail interceded to protect her wicked husband, Nabal and those in her care. Lydia planted the first church in Europe. Damaris boldly believed the message of the gospel and courageously opposed the Atehnian idolators. Priscila partnered with her husband in ministry as they discipled Apollos, ministered along side of Paul and risked their lives to save him during an Ephesian riot.
Examples of unrighteous ‘leading ladies’ are not exempt from the page of scripture. Jezebel ordered the killing of an innocent farmer and the prophets of God. Herodias bartered her daughter’s honor for the head of John the Baptist to satisfy her bruised and unrighteous ego.
You see, the issue is not whether or not we have the power to influence those around us – it is whether we use our influence for good or for evil. Most likely, you’ve seen examples of both. Women who wield their influence like a weapon. They enter an event like a tornado leaving a path of destruction behind them. Not caring who they hurt along the way. Not worried about honoring God. Their only concern is their own sense of authority.
On the other hand, we’ve all been graced by women who light up a room with their countenance. They love to love others and it shows. They don’t seek attention. They are most fulfilled when they encourage other women to fulfill their God-given roles. They aren’t trying to make a name for themselves – they just want to make much of Jesus’ name. They are ‘Leading Ladies’ worth following. Women making an eternal difference in the lives of others.
Our hearts are fragile yet powerful. They need to be guarded diligently and at the same time they have the power to govern our words and deeds. If we are to be leading ladies who lead well, it all starts in our hearts.
I’d like to share a simple acrostic to help us do a little check-up on our own hearts…to evaluate our motivation as leading ladies:
H – Humility – There’s probably no more attractive quality than that of true humility. To be a leading lady who is worthy to be followed, humility is a prerequisite. A humble woman understands she has nothing to offer apart from what the Lord has given her. Whether that comes in the form talents, abilities, finances or position. Humility is diametrically opposed to pride. It is the antithesis of selfishness. Humility assumes the position of a servant who desires to see the success and betterment of others. Phil 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.“
E – Encouraging – ‘Leading Ladies’ delight in encouraging others. Just as the heart of Jesus is to see us grow into a more beautiful likeness of Himself, we should desire to see others become more like Christ. To build one another up. To choose and use our words carefully for the exhortation of others. Leading ladies understand the weight of their words and the power of their influence. Advice is cautiously considered and given from the Word, not from their own emotions. They are intent on encouraging others in the Word and ways of God. 1 Thes 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
A – Armed – No true ‘leading lady’ is seen in public unprepared. She always carries herself with poise and is dressed to kill. As a Christian ‘leading lady’ we need to don the garb of God’s armor and carry ourselves with honor and integrity. Time in the Word and time in prayer strengthen our hearts and fortify our spirits. If you’re a leading lady, you know you face the unexpected while others watch your response. Pouring your life into others is difficult if you’re trying to pour from an empty vessel. We need to be leading ladies who give evidence of a victorious life through the way handle the unexpected. Proverbs 31:25 tells us, “Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure;“
R – Resolved – It’s rare to see a ‘leading lady’ get tangled in her dress as she walks the aisle to receive her award. She’s a focused women. Somehow, she remains focused on the prize that awaits her and each step along the journey at the same time. Jesus lived like that. He was not moved by the chaos of the day. He knew His purpose. His influence was never marred by a loss of self-control. Setting your affections on things above. Living intentional lives. That is a woman who is resolved.1 Cor 15:58 (Amplified) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose].“
T – Teachable – A ‘leading lady’ knows she doesn’t know everything. She’s teachable. Ready to learn something new from the Word; ready to learn from others. She’s approachable and above reproach. She can’t be accused of snubbing the advice of others. She is wise enough to know that she doesn’t know it all. She’s a life-long learner and others know it. A teachable woman will never live her life in vain.Proverbs 14:6 (Amplified) “A scoffer seeks Wisdom in vain [for his very attitude blinds and deafens him to it], but knowledge is easy to him who [being teachable] understands.“
S – Sincere – There’s always a phony in the crowd. Someone who wants to look like the real deal, but doesn’t have the character to pull it off. Interestingly enough, she’s the only one who’s fooled. People can see a wanna-be coming a mile away. But an authentic ‘leading lady’ never has to pretend to be one…she just is. It’s her character that makes her what she is. Her integrity is evident. Her humility exposes her Word-soaked heart. She’s more concerned with her relationship with God than she is with being a ‘leading lady.’ She is the real deal and everyone knows it. Phil 1:10 (Amplified) “So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble].“
So how’s your heart (H.E.A.R.T.S.)? What characteristics do you see in ‘leading ladies?’ Have I missed anything? I’d love to hear from you leading ladies out there that can add value to this lesson.