Last month, I did a September Self-Care series. I did it because many of us, especially women, don’t take enough time out to care for ourselves. We’re so busy worrying and taking care of other people, we end up neglecting our own needs. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t help someone else when you don’t have anything left to give.
When you take the time to invest in yourself, you’re increasing your chances of being in a leadership position. Sadly, a lot of Christians, especially women, don’t feel like the bold lions God created us to be. We are guilty of allowing people to live rent-free in our minds. This causes us to ignore or dismiss the impact we could have on the lives of those who need our attention.
If you want to be a great leader, you have to start being more intentional with how you choose to spend your time. Speaking from personal experience, if the thought, person, or activity doesn’t align with the plans I know God has in store for me, don’t be surprised if you see an eviction notice from me. I’m devoting a lot of time and energy to ensuring I don’t leave this earth without achieving the goals God placed in my heart.
I’ve always been a teacher. Not in the sense that I teach in a school or anything like that, but I thoroughly enjoy helping people. It brings me great joy if I’m in a position to help someone achieve their dreams. I don’t think anything of it, but the knowledge or words of encouragement I share may mean the world to that person I helped.
In the past couple of months, God has shown me on more than one occasion that my efforts have not been in vain. People I don’t frequently get a chance to speak with or never even knew were watching me, have been kind enough to tell me how much I’ve inspired them to do XYZ or made an impact on their life. This was and is a very humbling experience. It made me realize how much we’re all connected.
None of this would have happened if I didn’t learn to embrace the word no. I don’t know if you’re aware of this but no is a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to how you choose to invest in yourself or allocate your time. Knowing when to say no allowed me the freedom to really embrace and cultivate all the gifts and talents God’s given me.
No was one of the most difficult words for me to learn, but it’s also brought me the most joy. The word no allowed me the strength to create boundaries. The word no left me feeling empowered because it meant that I wasn’t allowing people to confuse me with being a doormat.
The respect I gained from saying no placed me in a position to have the confidence to take ownership and pride in my work. It confirmed that I wasn’t doomed to living a life of being a yes woman. Like Aloe Blacc said, “I’m going to do it my way.” Now don’t get it twisted, when I say my way I mean by putting God first. Many times, that means standing alone (John 16:32). I’d like to say that my decision to put God first meant that I experienced nothing but blue skies, but that definitely wasn’t always the case.
In fact, it left me feeling a lot like Esther. In case you’re not familiar with Esther’s story. Esther was a young Jewish girl taken captive and eventually married King Xerxes. Now during this time, the King was not aware of Esther’s Jewish heritage. Mordecai her cousin, warned her that it was time to be a leader and help save her people from the destruction Haman planned against them (Esther 1- 10).
It took Ester a while to take ownership of the power within her reach. Esther failed to realize Mordecai’s training was for such a time as this. Although Esther did not feel like the bold lion Mordecai trained her to be, she eventually gained the courage and focused on the impact her decision would have on her people.
Once Esther stopped focusing on herself and placed the focus on God, she felt compelled to help her people. She was willing to risk her own life. She knew in her heart-stopping Haman was the right thing to do.
We may never be in a life-and-death situation such as Esther, but we will face moments where we have to find the courage to make the right decision. Our decision may not always be popular with society, but our goal is to please God.
If you are persistent in keeping your focus on God, He will give you the desires of your heart. In Luke 18 there is a parable of a widow who kept seeking justice from a corrupt judge. Due to her persistence, she finally received the justice she sought. A true leader never gives up. The level of our persistence will dictate the outcome of our battle.
Against the odds, these women took ownership of their leadership roles. They invested in themselves by serving eviction notices to all the negative thoughts and people attempting to hold them back. It’s time to dust off those unfinished goals and dreams and walk into the destiny God has in store for you. Those goals and dreams God instilled in your heart were for such a time as this.