As a teacher, I spent a lot of time mentoring girls. In class, out of class, on the athletics field. I met and counseled hundreds of parents who were looking for ways to guide their daughters in today’s world. Moms and dads and me. We’d sit down together and they would explain a struggle they were facing (“she heads straight into her room when she gets home – her door is always shut” or “every day she gets to school wondering who her friends are gonna be that day”) and they’d all ask me versions of the same question. “What can I SAY to her? What are the words I can use to reach her, to have a certain conversation that will close the widening gap between us?”
“Can you give me the words?”
I heard that all the time.
Girl moms know that, whether our daughters are 6 or 16, words can be a powerful tool when it comes to mentoring, but it is our modeling, our behavior, and our leadership that will help them understand much more than our words ever will.
The question becomes not “what are the words” but instead “what are the ways” God is calling our girls to leadership and “how can we – as their parents, their teachers, their mentors – walk alongside them, train them up as they learn how God wants them to become fully awake, to arise, and to advance His kingdom?”
Because the truth is that God designed all of us that we would influence a dark and broken world for Jesus. That is what real leadership is.
Leadership is influence, and our effectiveness as leaders depends upon how well we align our influence with His design of us as women.
Here are three important ways we can come alongside our girls and support them to lead well.
When I went from teacher to entrepreneur, I realized quickly that I needed a different kind of mentorship and support. So I joined a mastermind group where I live in San Diego – for female business owners who wanted to grow their businesses and lead from their values. It was helpful for me because, although overly competitive as a young person, I had no real training in businessy things like negotiating or how marketing and public relations can work to help you scale your business. So I was grateful for this group for many reasons. We’d meet every month and work through a variety of business concepts -- but always, always, we approached our learning through the lens of our feminine design – the first few meetings were spent teaching us about how are we wired as women which I had never really considered before– I mean every woman knows we think, feel and operate differently than men do (shake your head and laugh if that’s true). BUT specifically what is different and how can knowing those differences inform our leadership?
I began to realize how crucial it is to understand more of our feminine design so that we can positively impact those we are trying to influence. How does His design of us matter, and what does it mean in the context of his mandate in Genesis 1 at the onset of creation?
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Be fruitful. Multiply. Replenish the earth. Subdue the earth, and have dominion over the animals (air, land, and sea). So often dominion over others is how leadership is approached. That we would dominate other image bearers or position ourselves in authority over a person or group of people. It’s how the current hierarchical structure of business is set up. I’m not saying we should scrap that system and start over. What I am saying is that the way God calls us to lead others has so little to do with our authority and everything to do with His.
What we can do as moms is help our girls increase their understanding of God’s design of them and how it is different than our male counterparts. When we celebrate that, when we can see how God’s design fits us well together wholly and holistically, both genders can lead from their giftings, their strengths, their values and that is how we are going to build the Kingdom of God.
I never studied this stuff. I’m more of an English/History kind of a girl. Just for fun though - how many biological differences do you think there are between men and women?
Answer: There are over 100. Here are a few highlights:
A couple of initial thoughts:
We are designed to read people beyond verbal language. It's how we know when something is “wrong” with someone.
When someone is distressed, we feel distressed; when someone is in pain, we suffer with them.
We think in terms of whole community. We are wired to see “the bigger picture."
It takes us longer to think through solutions (which can cause exhaustive analysis and overthinking).
The more we can understand, even generally, the differences between the masculine and feminine designs, the more we can support our girls to feel energized to do the work God prepared in advance for them to do because He prepared that work with their design in mind.
Mamas, we know that trust is the kind of thing that can take years to build and one day to destroy – amen? Our girls have two separate challenges to tackle in this area:
Goal 1: they have to learn to trust and believe in themselves
Goal 2: they need others to trust/believe in them too
Credibility is vital to their ability to bring others along on whatever journey they wants to lead them on, whatever change they want to implement, whatever goal they want to attain.
When I became a mother, I began to recognize the sphere of influence God assigned to me. I can say with confidence that there is absolutely no one more qualified on this planet to raise my daughter than I am. I don’t mean that in a prideful way. I say it simply to acknowledge that, regardless of how I feel or how much I trust or don’t trust my abilities on any given day, God did not make a mistake when He gave her to me. He doesn’t make mistakes.
I can own the assignment because I trust the One who assigned it.
Now, in the entrepreneur/founder/CEO sphere of influence – it was not as easy as what I just described. For a long time, BB was our little side business. I wrote the stories at the library on weekends between grading English essays and being a wife and a mom. Rooney was about 1 and a half when the first pallet of books was printed and shipped to us. It wasn’t long after that Brent and I were sitting together in our backyard and he said, “You know I keep getting all these requests for you to teach and speak and I think you’re supposed to quit your job and do this full-time.” I looked at him and was like, “you might be nuts.” But that challenged me.
I spent a lot of my quiet time with the Lord in that season just asking him to help me believe – God, can I trust and believe enough in myself, in what You say about me, to step out in faith – to get out from the behind the computer screen and lend myself, my voice to this movement?
What I didn’t realize is how poised I was, and we are as women, to lead well in the modern world. There’s a ton of science around this in recent years.
Is it surprising to you that most of these traits are considered as feminine to the people who participated in the study?
Many of the values that women innately possess are the ones desired for modern day leaders! How cool is that? It’s such an exciting time to be a female leader – Both the environment and culture in which we live have changed and have become more accepting of the unique value that women can provide.
It is written:
“ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ”
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
When Brent and I started this journey, we did it because we wanted to make a connection – we wanted to connect girls to Scripture through the stories of women. We couldn’t see all of the steps but we knew God was calling us to it.
And at the end of our lives, we will have to account for the opportunity that God placed before us. What did we do with it? Did we say yes to it?
That’s all accountability is. God puts something in your way and you say yes to it. It’s making a commitment to do whatever work He is laying out in front of you. Accountability is honoring that commitment, submitting it fully unto the Lord. It's moving forward in obedience so that He can do what is in His good and perfect will.
As you look ahead, I want to encourage you to evaluate your family's culture, your relationship with your daughter, and what steps you might take to increase accountability. To say yes to the opportunities God is calling you to, both collectively and each individual. Talk about them, pray through them, and wait in anticipation to see the remarkable things God can do when we do our part.
* * *
When I think about how much time I spent talking to parents and hearing them say “Can you give me the words,” I’m reminded of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with Lauren Green McAfee of the Green family (Hobby Lobby and the Museum of the Bible).
Lauren and I share many passions, one of which is to encourage women of all ages. I remember talking to her about what it will take for the next generation of girls to understand that each one of them can play a unique and irreplaceable role in God’s story.
She said, “I think it’s going to take a network of women to support them to live with their legacy in mind.”
That’s exactly what we get to do. We get to come alongside our girls to discover how the Lord is calling them to leadership, how God is calling them to lead a life that points to Jesus. How he has equipped them, in design, in gifts, talents, and by His sufficient and perfect grace.
God has truly poured out many incredible blessings on His daughters, maybe the most extraordinary one of all is the opportunity to live into our design, to lead from our values, and to be accountable today for the building of His Kingdom tomorrow.