I loved gathering the stories for the empowering women series that we ran on the blog last month. Some of them had me punching the air with joy, others brought tears to my eyes and all of them lifted my spirits. We've had some great feedback and I hope that the series will lead to lots more people being liberated to use their gifts. Here are some of my thoughts as the series comes to a close:
- Empowering people is often costly. I spoke to someone last week who gave someone she works with a juicy speaking opportunity that would have looked great on her own CV. 'I was really pleased that she rose to the occasion and did it brilliantly, but inside I was gutted for myself!' she said. Can we be secure and generous enough to give away opportunities and to trust God for the outcome?
- There are lots of empowering men out there! I've been really encouraged by the number of men who have given opportunities to women, who have encouraged us, advocated for us and given us a kick up the backside when we have needed it - thank you! And please keep going - we need you.
- Words are incredibly powerful, for good or ill. Sometimes the simplest of phrases have had a profound effect on people, probably far beyond the realisation of the person who said it. I've been challenged to think about how I can build people up through what I say, and to consider the damage that disparaging remarks can do.
- Take the opportunity to say thank you. If this series has reminded you of someone who made a difference to you, then please take the time to tell them about it and thank them for their input into your life.
- If no one is empowering you, then be proactive! Not everyone has had someone who has invested in and empowered them, but if that's you please don't feel sorry for yourself; do something about it. You don't have to wait for someone to offer to mentor you; take the initiative to find a mentor. Talk to your boss or church leader about the skills or gifts you'd like to develop. Team up with a peer that you could provide mutual support to. Write to someone who has the experience or skills you aspire to and ask how they developed them.
- We don't only want to see women empowered! We've highlighted women on the blog because in some parts of the church, their gifts are squashed instead of celebrated but I hope it goes without saying that we want to see everyone liberated to use their gifts and to fulfil their potential - male and female, young and old.
I hope the series will continue to be read, but more importantly that it will inspire you to think how you can do the same for others. So, who can you empower today?