This past October, I had the opportunity to attend the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards in Nashville, TN. My team was gifted floor level tickets amongst the artists nominated for individual awards. It was surreal to watch men and women I highly respect in the music industry chatting with their peers as if it were any other Tuesday night. As the show unfolded, one individual caught my eye seated just two rows in front of me. It was not an artist, manager, or presenter. Instead, it was the wife of a nominee with her two small children in tow. I watched her son and daughter beam with pride as their father’s name was read aloud as nominee for best (fill in the blank). As the presenter opened the envelope, I could see the two children move toward the edge of their seats in anticipation. The winner was announced, and their father’s name was not called.
What I witnessed next will forever be etched in my mind as a leader and mother.
The wife of the nominee bent down and looked her two crying children in the face. She lifted their chins, spoke truth and encouragement over them, hugged them, and demonstrated what it looks like to cheer for others even when you don’t win. She taught them to clap for someone else. To love someone else. To choose joy because they were all on the same team.
She flipped the narrative.
What I witnessed that night was true strength. True leadership. She was exercising her God-given strength in the most fundamental of ways when it mattered most.
As a leader we are called to recognize and grow the strengths of the women entrusted to us. It is one of the highest honors I believe we hold as servant leaders.
Here is a simple go-to list I use when walking with women in my group.
- Listen and Learn
One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your attention. Your undivided, full on, I-won’t-answer-my-phone-if-it-rings, attention. Our culture is hungry for it. The women around you crave it. When you stop pushing an agenda and simply listen to what they are saying, or better yet what they are not saying, you will learn volumes about their life.
- Cultivate Intentional Dialogue
Don’t assume that the women in your group know their strengths. They typically don’t. Or if they do, they pass them off as, “Something I happen to be good at.” Don’t let the dialogue end there. Don’t let them believe the lie. Get to know their stories. Ask leading questions that produce authentic answers. Remind them of God’s creativity when He wired them the way He did. Listen for what I call “ah-ha” moments. Moments when they recognize a strength without even realizing it. Those moments are gold.
- Equip Them With The Word of God
Women don’t need more coffee mug quotes or encouraging puns. They need the living, breathing, sharper than a double-edged sword Word of God. They need Jesus. You and I have the honor of helping them recognize the gifts God has given them while also sharpening them like arrows for the communities and work-places God has rooted them in. Don’t miss that. The more we point them to Scripture the more they understand their identity in Christ and can live it out in confidence.
- Empower Them to Take Risks
Leaders empower others to make wise decisions and take risks as part of growing. We often avoid taking risks for fear of failure. Remind them of this: our weakness is a conduit for God’s glory to go forth, with purposes far exceeding the momentary affliction we experience. As Christ-followers, we are given intentional opportunities to allow our triumphs to ring louder than our trials. Risk is never wasted when God is involved.
If we’ve heard it once we’ve heard it twenty times: Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t compare one woman in your group to another. They are different—on purpose. Recognize their individuality and nurture it.
Friends—let this one go. We all have a natural bent toward certain people, but that must never play itself out within our staff, friendships, or groups. James 2 is clear about this in Scripture.
My prayer for us as women and leaders is that we would seek God in full honesty and transparency so that through Him, we can recognize and grow the strengths of the women around us for His kingdom and His glory.
Liz Steckel loves ministering alongside women in the local church and surrounding community. A former Young Adult Women’s Minister, Girls Minister, graphic designer, and missionary, Liz thrives on equipping leaders and cultivating cross-generational discipleship. She is married to Josh Steckel, and they currently live in Plano, Texas with their two daughters, Mackenzie (2) and Savannah (1).