Surely, any of those people would’ve been a better choice than Beth, right? After all, Beth had spent years at home quietly running a home-based business while she raised a couple of kids and offered emotional support to her busy husband. On paper, this didn’t seem like much of a match to the other candidates.
But clearly, my friend didn’t see and didn’t know what so many of the rest of us did in and about Beth. Beth was a gifted leader—and she proved that leadership training grounds don’t just exist in business schools, in corporate board rooms or in Jim Collins’ books.
And yet, this is something our culture doesn’t widely recognize. As a result, women especially, can run up against leadership barriers time and again. Others have a hard time valuing our experience or our abilities if we’ve traded corporate life for home-business life or passed over business school so we could be there to drop off at preschool or be fully present from three to five p.m.
Even the most capable women get overlooked as soon as we “opt out” because somehow along the way, we have forgotten that leaders can be (and are) made just about anywhere. Leadership is more than sporting the right degrees, the right experience or knowing the right lingo. Leadership is about knowing what our gifts are and using them—fearlessly—and knowing who God made us to be and living that out—fearlessly. Leadership is a willingness to step out when others huddle back. And if we do it well, if we lead well, we inspire others to follow, or to take their own steps into God’s calling.
Christians need to look no further than the scriptures for confirmation of this. God rarely called the most qualified person. More often than not, it seems he called the least qualified! At least, least qualified according to normal, human standards.
More than one person in history has looked at someone God called to lead and asked, “What could she possibly bring to the table?”
I’m going to venture a guess that if you’re in any sort of position of leadership (and really, aren’t we all?), you’ve asked yourself this very same thing. About yourself!
I know that “What do I possibly bring to the table?” has zipped through my brain more times than I can count. But it’s a terrible question—especially when God is calling us forward or when others are affirming our gifts.
I hope that we women, especially, can stop asking this question of one another and of ourselves. Instead of wondering why someone shouldn’t be leading or can’t be leading or isn’t qualified to lead, let’s focus on the reasons someone—no matter how unlikely—is leading. And let’s celebrate every time a less-than-likely person is tapped.
We’re all aware of our own weakness and failings. Let’s help one another celebrate our strengths and potential.
Written by Caryn Rivadeneira