I didn’t want to do it, but I had no choice. Everyone who knows me knows I hate to shop, but it was summer time and I was in desperate need of a cover up. You know, one of those long dress-looking-shirt-things that we put over our bathing suits to cover up as much as we possibly can.
So I made my way into the ladies department found the items in question and began skimming quickly through the hangers hoping something would jump out at me. And there it was. A one-size-fits-all white cover up. I’m not sure why I thought white was a good idea, but for some reason I liked it. Normally, I would have grabbed it, paid for it and left. After all, it was one-size-fits-all. But I decided to make a mad dash to the dressing room and try it on.
After pulling, tugging and stretching every way possible, I finally got it on. The only trouble was, I couldn’t get it off.I began what looked like a wrestling match as I found myself sweating in my failed attempts to get that thing off. Unfortunately, I was left with no choice but to ask the lady in the next room for help. After more tugging and stretching, I was startled by what sounded like a cork coming off a wine bottle. The cover up was finally off.
All I can tell you is I wanted to find a magic marker and write “NO IT DOESN’T” under the words “One Size Fits All.”
Leading ladies are much like that cover up…they don’t all come packaged the same way. One size doesn’t always fit all. That’s true in life. That’s true in leadership. While it’s important to remember that leading ladies may be as different as a box of chocolate candy, it’s also important to note that there are certain threads that run through the fabric of each one. Certain conspicuous characteristics revealed by the way she leads.
1. Leading ladies are servants first. How often have you watched women point the long finger of authority while she refuses to get her own hands dirty? A leading lady sees herself as a servant of the Most High God and in turn, she serves others as an extension of her relationship with the Lord. There is no task too menial, no chore too inconvenient. There is nothing she would consider “beneath” her. A leading lady regards it a privilege to serve God by serving others. She inadvertently mentors others by her selfless example of servant leadership. Luke 22:26 says, “Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.”
2. Leading ladies are submissive. Leadership does not equal dominance. Everyone answers to someone. A leading lady understands that she doesn’t always have to be in charge. She’s well aware of biblical roles and the concept of submission to authority. Submit isn’t a dirty little word. It’s not a sign of weakness, but ultimately a sign of power. Submission means choosing to rank yourself under another. It requires self-control…a mastery of ones’ self. A leading lady doesn’t step outside of the protective umbrella of her husbands leadership to ‘fulfill her call to ministry.’ She willingly and prayerfully submits to her husband as head of their home. She submits to the authority of the pastor in things concerning the church; she submits to her co-laborers in the ministry, she submits to her superiors in her workplace; and she submits to the laws of the land. Romans 13:1, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
3. Leading ladies see potential in others. Everyone is on a journey to become who they were created to be. A leading lady looks beyond where others are and sees where they could be…who they could be. She’s not concerned that others may exceed her, she revels in unveiling undiscovered potential in those around her. I’ve found this to be true in the Christian writing community. As a newbie writer, baby stepping my way into the vast world of writing and publishing, I find myself on information overload, yet I’ve been surprisingly welcomed by veteran writers who generously share their wisdom and counsel. We’re not in competition, we’re on the same team. Teams are more effective when everyone does what we each do best…fulfilling our roles. A leading lady knows that and looks for ways she can mentor others on their way to becoming who they were created to be. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”
4. Leading ladies know their weaknesses. No one’s perfect. No one is good at everything. In fact, an intrinsic part of humility is being keenly aware of your own inadequacies. Wise women surround themselves with those who fill in the gaps of their deficiencies. We all know women who would prefer handle things themselves rather than let those who are more capable do the job. They come across as arrogant know-it-alls who nobody wants to follow. Nor should they. A leading lady is well aware of her weaknesses and is willing to ask for help from those who are more proficient than she is in a particular area. She’s not threatened by someone else’s expertise…she invites it. She understands that God has gifted everyone differently and sees value in their input. It’s important to know who you are, but it’s equally important to know who you are not. 1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I know this is in no way a comprehensive list of the common threads that color the fabric of leading ladies everywhere, but these are some of the most prominent and paramount. We’re all very different in our approach to leadership. Our styles are different, our stories bring different components to our character. But these are certainly some “must haves” if we’re going to be leading ladies who lead well.
What do you think? What would you add to this list? Which characteristics do you need to work on?