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FOUNDER AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
BIANCA JUAREZ OLTHOFF EDITOR IN CHIEF
CHRISTINE CAINE LEADING UP
FOUR REASONS YOU NEED TO START SAVING
AMENA BROWN OWEN
LEADERSHIP: BORN OR BRED
CUSTOMIZING YOUR MARRIAGE
GOD IS NOT DONE WITH YOU
BIANCA JUAREZ OLTHOFF
EQUALITY: WHO IS GOING TO STOP YOU?
NOT OUR IDENTITY
WOMEN WE LOVE
FIVE LEADERSHIP QUESTIONS
WOMEN WHO INSPIRE WOMEN
MERCY LOKULUTU VALIDATION
PEERS AND MENTORS
DR. CHRISTINA CRENSHAW
BESTOWING HONOR AND GRACE ON OTHERS
KELLI AND VANESSA
STORY OF HOPE
Assistant Editor: Calli Tybur Photographers: Kat Harris @TheKatHarris Sidney Morgan @_SidneyMorgan www.PROPELWOMEN.com
LEADING UP springtime, which always reminds me of growth and Inewt’s life. I love new beginnings, chances to start again, and
3. HONOR YOUR LEADER’S TIME
new ways to grow. As everything grows in life, leadership,
them by honoring your time with them. Before approaching
and ministry, it’s crucial to learn how to grow up and lead
them and pulling them away from tasks, think problems
up. In the 25 years I’ve lead inside and outside of the Church,
through and brainstorm solutions. Prepare your questions
I’ve seen people become profoundly influential without a title
in advance and learn how to get to the point. Be accurate
or position. They have a willingness to advance the mission
and dependable. Don’t point out problems without offering
versus personal gain. In short, they lead up. Leading up has
Your leader has limited time and as a result you can best serve
opened more doors than striving to build a platform. Are you ready to grow up and learn how to lead up? Here are
4. SEE WHAT YOUR LEADER SEES
some things I learned along the way.
Failing to look up and see what your leader sees breeds frustration and discontentment. Recognize that your leader
1. LEAD YOURSELF
is looking forward and thinking further than the task at hand.
At the base level, you should be able to lead yourself
Teach yourself to do the same. Adapt and change so you can
effectively. Managing your time, priorities, and emotions
serve more effectively. Carry the vision with your leader.
is important. Your emotional quotient will determine your leadership potential. If you aren’t faithful over little, you’ll
As you focus on leading up, you will unintentionally
never be appointed a leader over much.
train yourself to think like a leader. You prepare yourself for greater responsibility by taking on greater responsibility.
2. LIGHTEN YOUR LEADER’S LOAD
When your leader sees you can do it, it’s amazing how much
This might surprise you, but leaders don’t exist to help you
more they’ll give you.
fulfill your personal ambition. Instead, you have been placed in a specific position to help them execute the mission. First,
Leading up is following with a servant heart and a humble
do your job well and be looking for ways to lighten your
spirit. Remembering ultimately our example in this is Jesus.
Jesus submitted to the Father and led up to fulfill God’s mission.
A leader’s job is to strengthen your capacity. Prove you are ready to carry more by taking it and doing it without needing
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to
recognition or acknowledgement. Your leader isn’t going to
do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).
give you stewardship of more of God’s vision if you’re going We’re not here to do our will. Whatever we see the
to drop it.
Father doing, that’s what we’re doing. Start looking up and If you see a problem, don’t just identify it, come with
solutions. Your leader is well-aware of problems. Bring them solutions. When your deadline is short, the pressure is heavy, the resources are scarce, run into the fire, not away
from it. It’s there that you will learn to grow your capacity. So step in and take it instead of waiting on your leader.
@ChristineCaine FOUNDER OF PROPEL WOMEN
“SEE WHAT YOUR LEADER SEES.”
OVERCOMING FEAR You know those mirrors at carnivals that distort your shape and make you look
crazy? They make you look taller, shorter, thin as a rail and wide as a truck? I was terrified of them as a toddler. I actually thought they were changing me. (Now, I realize we all hate the ones that make us look two feet tall and ten feet wide!) As an adult, I look back and laugh at my fear of mirrors because I know it is just an illusion and that reflection bears no truth on what I actually look like. Fear is like that carnival mirror reflecting an illusion back to you. Fear wants to distract you from your purpose, lives to keep you from your potential, and longs to dull your passion. You were created to do great things in this world, and fear is a powerful tool of the enemy to keep you from your calling.
Fear keeps businesses from ever starting. Fear keeps blogs and books unwritten. Fear keeps testimonies silenced. Fear keeps families estranged. Fear keeps people stuck, unable to move forward in their lives. Fear can be a powerful beast. The more we give into fear and let ourselves believe the lies of fear, the more power we give it. So how do we overcome fear? The answer may seem so simple that it is easy to discount the power of it. Truth is your superpower. It trumps fear every single time. Speak Truth over your fear. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). We can focus on “whatever is true” until our fears have been replaced with truth. Next time you find yourself caught in a loop of negative thoughts, and feelings of fear build up inside of you, it is crucial to remind yourself what is true.
“No. That isn’t truth. I know this to be true...” And follow that truth up with scripture. Sometimes it is a really basic truth like “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Don’t let fear keep you from all you are called to do in this life. Speak truth over lies and move forward to your God–given destiny.
Alli Worthington @Alli COO OF PROPEL WOMEN
TAKE COURAGE Fear has crippled many minds keeps the legs from walking, running at full extension towards the goal towards our calling it is fear that causes our throats to close in keeps our voice collapsing until it is doomed to silence until we would rather not speak about injustice, poverty, racism, war, genocide No one ever gets to the end of their life and says I wish I’d been more scared sometimes God soothes us but most of the time he does all he can to shake some sense into us maybe it’s time we take our fears and hang-ups and give them up for walking on water for leaving what we’ve known for the unknown To take courage is to take heart to take the very center of who we are risk all we have for the good, for the right for the God who risked his all to save our lives So stand with shoulders back with feet planted firmly on faith ready to act, pray, suffer, sacrifice, serve, love
Be brave in the face of danger in the face of losing popularity and not knowing how it will all work out give up your seat at the cool kids’ table to embrace change, commitment to care for the sick to be light in a dark place prepare for discomfort inconvenience, surrender for accepting all you are not for giving all you’ve got prepare to die but do all you can to really live Because we are not following a statesman, spokesman, celebrity we follow a savior who exemplified how much this life is not about our rights his life, this life we have through him is about giving all we have to the cause of Christ the only cause that lasts so let’s not only have the guts to say or sing or preach let’s have the guts to love and fight and believe and be Take courage when your mind and arms are weary when the little you have doesn’t seem like enough when the road feels long and lonely trust that we are never alone fear not When fear confronts us we do not shrink back we are not afraid
Amena Brown Owen @AmenaBee SPOKEN WORD POET, AUTHOR BREAKING OLD RHYTHMS
CUSTOMIZING YOUR MARRIAGE H
ere are eternal truths and values that can propel your marriage into everything God has called it to be. And yet there is no one-size-fits-all guide. God wants all marriages to be built with love,
submission, respect, faithfulness, intimacy, and a vision for legacy. These are but a few of the raw materials we build with. The way or manner in which these building blocks are assembled will reflect the uniqueness of your personalities and season of life. God gives us the major principles and leaves us the joy of creative expression in the particulars.
Each union is a unique fingerprint; therefore, it would be a mistake to expect all couples to fit into a generic mold. For example, in our day it is not unusual for both spouses to work outside the home. A wife may earn more than her husband. Her income-producing ability does not mean that she is not submissive or that her husband is not a leader. It simply means both are contributing to the household income. Because of these dynamics and others, most marriages today look different than our grandparents’ did. Ours does. My husband and I both work and we are both leaders outside our home. Whether we work together or separately, the goal of, and our commitment to, our marriage does not waiver. In the Garden of Eden, God empowered both Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Eve was not ordered to stay home and manage Adam’s multiplication. Of course, if a couple chooses this approach, awesome! But it should not be mandated. The virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 managed both her household and her business brilliantly. The point is, it is hard to be stellar if church leadership has implied that what you are doing is wrong. If it’s right for your marriage, do it! We live in unique days with unique challenges on every front. We need strong marriages that are havens in the midst of storms. You and your spouse have the God-given right to build a union that fulfills both of your dreams, not someone else’s dream for your marriage.
HERE ARE FIVE TOOLS FOR STARTING CONSTRUCTION: IDENTIFY WHAT IS NONNEGOTIABLE These are values you both agree to never
“BUILD A UNION THAT FULFUILLS BOTH YOUR DREAMS.”
compromise, like “our marriage will honor God” or “we’ll put each other’s needs above our own.”
DREAM AND SET SPECIFIC GOALS Where do you want to land financially? How will you navigate parenting? Discuss church and community involvement and career paths. Dream about, then clearly define some objectives specific to your union.
MAKE A PLAN. NOTHING HAPPENS WITHOUT A STRATEGY. This can be a living, breathing plan, but begin with an established path. Set your course with strategies and steps that will take you from where you are to where you want to be.
FIND PEOPLE TO HELP YOU GET THERE Make friends with an older couple who has already navigated these steps.
DRAW ON GOD’S WISDOM Ask for His desires for your marriage. Make this your vision—the one He designed just for you before the beginning of time.
Lisa Bevere @LisaBevere BEST–SELLING AUTHOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF MESSENGER INTERNATIONAL
EQUALITY: WHO IS GOING TO STOP YOU? W ith the glitz and glam of Hollywood at full hilt, no one
work of ministry, Jesus recognized, elevated, and defended
expected such a dramatic speech at the Oscars—not even a
the cause of women. The beauty of the gospel is that it is the
room full of actors.
supreme message of recognition (we are chosen), equality (we are all sinners), and redemption (we are saved by grace
Patricia Arquette’s widely discussed acceptance speech
and called to purpose).
raised a few questions about her opportunity in the limelight to demand equal pay for women not only in her industry,
President Lyndon B. Johnson stated, “We have talked long
but across the board. On the heels of her speech, the United
enough in this country about equal rights. It is time now to
Nations launched an initiative for gender equality and had
write the next chapter - and to write it in the books of law.”
superstars, politicians, and philanthropists speak out for
What President Johnson failed to acknowledge was that it’s
recognition and advancement of women.
already written in the books of the law. Jesus cited two Old Testament laws on which hinge all the laws: Love the Lord
Much attention has been given to superstars and feminists
and love your neighbor as you love yourself (Luke 10:27).
calling for equality, but these advocates aren’t the first ones to the party. Rather let’s focus on the Truth and Life who
As followers of Christ, we stand at the crossroads of
died for a cause and rose back to life for a reason.
Christianity and culture. The message of equality isn’t
a modern issue, but it is the very ethos of our Savior who As Christianity spread throughout the early world, the
found value in the least of these then and finds value in the
redemptive effects of the gospel elevated women and set them
free in many ways. Jesus taught principles of equal worth and value for both men and women. Though this may seem
You don’t need a famous actress, rich philanthropist, or
passé in our day and age, it was counter–cultural during the
pastor to validate your worth. You simply need to own your
time of Christ.
value in Christ and walk confidently in the truth that we are equal in Christ. We fight for equality form victory, not
To create some context for what life was like during the time
inequity. The question isn’t, “Who is going to let me?”
of Christ, the idea of gender equality stood in direct conflict
The real question is, “Who is going to stop me?”
with Roman law which gave man absolute power of life and In the words of Paul the Apostle,
death over his family, including his wife. A Roman emperor, moved by biblical standards and the teachings of Christ, repealed this law. The effect the repeal had on culture is still
“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and
felt today, but it isn’t due to philanthropists, feminists, or
female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus”
lawmakers; it was Jesus who changed this and it is Jesus who
(Galatians 3:28, NLT).
continues to shift culture. The greatest equalizer was the Messiah from Galilee. In a time where women didn’t have intellectual capital, formal education, or social recognition, Jesus elevated women and advocated on their behalf. Whether it was the immoral woman caught in the act of adultery, the outcast hemorrhaging
Bianca Juarez Olthoff
woman, or the businesswoman, Joanna, who supported the
@BiancaOlthoff CHIEF STORYTELLER AT A21 AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR PROPEL WOMEN
“TRUTH AND LIFE.”
05 LEADERSHIP QUESTIONS:
@JToddMullins is Lead Pastor at Christ Fellowship Church, Palm Beach, Florida
01 HOW CAN MEN ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO EMBRACE LEADERSHIP?
I have always believed that great leaders make room for other leaders, male, or female. As leaders we should be constantly
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE GOING INTO A LEADERSHIP POSITION FOR THE FIRST TIME?
inspiring and equipping new leaders to step up, exercise their gifts and move the team forward. Men must realize that in some organizations – especially in the church - we can open doors for women that they cannot open for themselves. Many organizations and teams tend to be led by men. Only
Don’t try to prove yourself. So many people step into a new
those men can make room at the table to for women to lead.
role thinking they have to prove to their boss (or to the people they’re leading) that they are qualified for the job. When we do this we don’t keep ourselves open to learn and grow
into the role or to make mistakes and grow from them. We usually position ourselves to defend our perspective rather than keeping a teachable spirit.
WHAT IS ONE CHARACTERISTIC YOU BELIEVE EVERY LEADER SHOULD POSSESS?
Integrity. If a leader possesses integrity, it will release their team to function with authenticity and clarity. Integrity builds trust. When a team truly trusts their leader they
WHAT IS DISTINCT ABOUT WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP AND WHAT IS A TRAIT YOU ARE LEARNING FROM?
will go to the ends of the earth to fulfill their appointed mission.
Most women I know in higher levels of leadership have had to work hard to get there, breaking through cultural stereotypes and traditions. They have met resistance from both men and women who are not used to seeing a strong woman lead. If
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE LEADERS FACE TODAY?
married, these same women have had to lead while assuming the roles of wife and mother.
The perseverance and
determination of these women is inspiring.
Focus. With the explosion of social media and the constant online connection, everything seems to demand a leader’s attention. A leader must know what is important and be able to filter out noise that could easily sidetrack them and their organization.
JUST ENOUGH T hat’s how leadership feels most days. My quest for clarity, direction, decisiveness, and forward progress often feels thwarted. The outside forces are just enough to cause me to question everything. Do I really know what I’m doing? What if I’m wrong? What if I make a mistake? Enough is an exhausting word. I often don’t feel like I’m enough. I’m frequently confronted with my inadequacies as a leader. Perhaps I wasn’t patient enough, clear enough, articulate enough, decisive enough, direct enough, or sensitive enough. Oftentimes my “not enough” feelings seem like they are in contradiction with one other. About a decade ago, I made a major move from a corporate career to Executive Director of a church. In my corporate days, I was often coached to be tougher and more assertive. If I really wanted to get ahead, I was told I had to be more aggressive. In my early days on church staff I was criticized for being too strong and direct. The sentiment was that I needed to be kinder and gentler. These two messages were starkly different leaving me confused and frustrated. My takeaway was that I wasn’t good enough for either environment. Reverend Jesse Jackson had this to say about leadership, “Leaders must be tough enough to fight, tender enough to cry, human enough to make mistakes, humble enough to admit them, strong enough to absorb the pain, and resilient enough to bounce back and keep on moving.” His use of the word “enough” flips the perspective. Rather
than not being enough, I need to have just enough to keep going. Enough in his definition isn’t about having it all together. Jackson’s version of enough is not about perfection but about engaging our leadership with our whole heart in tow. Strength and weakness are interwoven. I need to be both strong and sensitive. I can make mistakes and admit them. I can accept the challenge and keep going. Jackson’s descriptions of “enough” reminds me of God’s promise to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God gives us just enough to show up for whatever he has called us to. Our God-given strengths and instincts are just enough. God meets us in those moments. Leadership is never about having all the answers all the time. It’s never about complete clarity and confidence. It’s about having just enough of whatever we need for whatever we face for the day. What is the not enough feeling you’re facing today? When you find yourself
with a fear of not being enough, I encourage you to take these steps: Acknowledge your “not enough” fears. Consider how self-doubt is creeping in and discouraging you. Perhaps you’ll want to share it with a trusted friend or maybe write about it in a journal. By acknowledging it,v you limit it. Commit it to prayer. God’s grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in our weakness. When we take it to him, his strength makes our just enough more than enough. Just enough is ENOUGH for your leadership today.
“GOD MEETS US IN THESE MOMENTS. ”
Jenni Catron @JenniCatron EXECUTIVE PASTOR MENLO PARK PRES, AUTHOR, AND LEADERSHIP COACH
n any given day, you will find me doing what many of you are doing even now, multi-tasking. We are women
who fill our days with many pursuits, the list of which is ever growing and always evolving. My days are robust with raising my two children, serving at my local church, and traveling the globe teaching and preaching the gospel. To my nursing students in college, I am Professor Lokulutu and to my patients in the hospital, I’m simply nurse Mercy. You can understand how deceptively easy it is for me to seek validation from the people in my world. It seems natural to need someone–your boss at the office, a husband, the other moms at the play date or peers–to augment your feelings of usefulness or validity. This view is encouraged and substantiated by the world around us and our emotions within us. The problem is, this view is not biblical and will lead to hurt, pain, and disappointment. The source of your validation matters. I remember an experience I had at a posh restaurant with valet parking and all that jazz. During dinner, our hosts graciously mentioned we could get our parking ticket validated and this bargain deal–loving mama was happy to hear that. Upon leaving, I handed my ticket to the parking attendant who apologetically said, “I’m sorry, whoever validated your ticket at the restaurant did not have the authority to do so you still have to pay for parking.” Who you get
your validation from matters and there is always a price to pay if you are not validated by the right person.
People can encourage, inspire, and motivate you but God must be preeminent, He alone has the authority to confer worth and to render your dreams as valid. All dreams may be valid, but not all dreams are validated by Him. Once I realized as a mother I am not just a house dweller, I am a house builder, it changed the way I nurture my kids. Be wise, don’t delegate what only you can do. When I go to God for His vision of how to communicate the gospel, the need to compare myself dissipates. My desire is to share the unique voice God has given me rather than be an echo of those around me. Be a voice, not an echo. In the workplace, be it church or a corporate environment, I understand the goal supersedes my role. Be less concerned about where you are on the organizational chart and more concerned about leading others to Jesus. Be excellent at work not just to hear “good job” from your boss, but rather “well done good and faithful servant” from God. The woman who knows that because she was born, she is already called, chosen and validated, will not look to others to do what Jesus already did. Lovely one, nothing you do can undo the Cross so freely and securely dream on, build on, and lead on.
“BE A VOICE, NOT AN ECHO.”
Mercy Lokulutu @MercyLokulutu MOTHER OF TWO, PREACHER, PROFESSOR OF NURSING AND AUTHOR OF AS YOU WISH.
COLLABORATION As vibrant entrepreneurs and friends who have years of experience in the creative marketing, and social media arenas, Kelli and Vanessa are passionate about cultivating a supportive online community as they breath life and encouragement into the peers who are raising the next generation of leaders. We believe that collaboration is the cornerstone for leadership success. While Kelli is a dreamer and Vanessa is a realist, together they leverage their individuality so that their reach extends to its furtherest potential.
It’s about bringing your many gifts to the table and sharing them in pursuit of a common goal.
Collaborative, win-win relationships can accelerate growth; coupled with a strong support system, they keep you on track with your goals and intentions.
Some of us are wary of collaboration because we feel threatened by it.
Those who achieve high levels of success are smart enough to know the power of relationships, which help make their dreams a reality.
It takes a tribe to build a successful idea and to see it through.
Collaboration is about trust and vocalizing your ideas, your passion, your mind, heart, and soul.
Collaboration isn’t about giving up your individuality. Quite the opposite: it’s about realizing your potential! Reach out to your tribe. Together, we can achieve anything!
@KelliAndVanessa are entrepreneurs and moms who collaborate to combine creativity and passion for life to inspire women 18
FOUR REASONS TO START SAVING NOW Make it a priority. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve probably heard it a hundred times. You need to save. You need
to save. You need to save. We all know that saving is important, but so few of us really take the time to do it. What’s the deal? Usually, we think life gets in the way. There’s so much to take care of now, who has time to worry about later? But that’s when we get into trouble. The 35-year-old who didn’t have time to save becomes the 70-year-old who is still working full time with 20 years of mortgage payments remaining. The key is to make saving a priority right now, no matter how old you are. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
THE BABY EMERGENCY FUND Start by saving $1,000 for a “baby emergency fund.” Sell stuff. Work overtime. Do whatever you need to do to get that $1,000 as fast as you can. Put it in a basic money market account. This is your cushion. When you get a flat tire, when the little one needs to go to the ER, when the friendly officer pulls you over for going 55 in a 45, this savings account will keep you from using credit cards and going into debt. After you save up that $1,000, it’s time to get out of debt using the debt snowball. Basically, it’s just a matter of paying all of your debts in the order of smallest to largest. You pay like crazy on the smallest one. When you’ve paid that off, use all of the money you were paying on it to put toward your second smallest debt. Follow that process until you’re out of debt. Then you can start saving in…
THE FULLY FUNDED EMERGENCY FUND At this point, you’re out of debt and you still have your $1,000 emergency fund. Now it’s time to throw all the money you were using to pay off debt into a bulkier emergency fund. I recommend saving three to six months of expenses. That way, you’re covered for the much bigger stuff—like maternity leave, getting laid off at work, and more serious medical bills.
RETIREMENT & COLLEGE Next up, your retirement and your kids’ college funds. Sit down with a financial advisor you can trust, someone who has the heart of a teacher, and make sure you are saving enough to allow your kids to go to college and you to retire without debt.
GENERAL SAVINGS Vacation, a car, Christmas, new furniture—these types of things aren’t emergencies. Christmas will always be on December 25. So no surprise there! Save up for this stuff ahead of time so you’re not tempted to plop down plastic. If you’re really trying to get out of debt and stop using credit cards, then saving is the place to start. You have to make it priority number one—saving up that first $1,000—before you do anything else. Just the process of getting started saving money gives you momentum. Plus, it allows you to get your head above water and begin finding some financial peace in your life. If you aren’t saving, don’t beat yourself up. Just get started today. You won’t regret it.
“YOU NEED TO SAVE.”
Rachel Cruze @RachelCruze FINANCIAL EXPERT AND NY TIMES BEST–SELLING AUTHOR SMART MONEY SMART KIDS.
PROPEL WOMAN HIGHLIGHT:
FASHION BLOGER, WORSHIP LEADER @KatieTorwalt WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO ENTER THE WORLD OF FASHION? Since I was a little girl, I have been all about fashion and beauty. I was raised on makeover shows like TLC’s “What Not to Wear “ and every Oprah Winfrey “Before and After” that was on TV! I loved seeing the transformation of the women both outside and inside after seeing their new look.
HOW ARE YOU USING YOUR LEADERSHIP GIFTS TO PROPEL YOU INTO THIS NEW VENTURE? I have experienced a lot of freedom in my life in the last several years from fear of what people think of me. Some of it has come with age, and some with life experience, but mostly from encountering Jesus and hearing constantly what He thinks of me and His love for me. I believe being a leader is modeling a lifestyle that is worthy of people following, and I am pursuing to be that example in every area of my life. Not just a small piece, but everything that God has put in my heart to do.
WHY IS FASHION IMPORTANT TO YOU? It’s a part of who I am and it’s valuable to me because it helps me express myself creatively and feel confident. It gives me an outlet and is something that brings me joy. Everyone doesn’t have the same value for it, and I think that is perfectly healthy.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME SURPRISES YOU’VE DISCOVERED IN THIS JOURNEY? It sounds funny, but I have realized that I have a lot of opinions and a strong point of view, and that was a little surprising. I was definitely raised by incredible parents who encouraged me to have my own thoughts and ideas. However, somehow in my adult life I felt that “as a Godly woman,” I should always be neutral in what I shared; keeping my opinions and ideas to myself and not saying what I thought. I’ve since realized that having and sharing your personal perspective can be inspiring and freeing for other people, and not the opposite.
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU’VE HAD FROM STARTING A CREATIVE ENDEAVOR? Well, it’s scary. In both of my worlds (music, songwriting, and then blogging and designing) it’s vulnerable to put something you have made out there for the other people to see, hear, and have opinions about. I have had to come to terms with the fact that it’s ok for everyone not to get it, or like everything you make.
WHAT ARE THREE ITEMS EVERY WOMAN SHOULD OWN? Chunky black booties for walking and looking fabulous at the same time. A good quality faux-leather jacket to pair with everything from girly dresses to long tunics and leggings. Perfect fitting black jeggings (are we still calling them that?) or skinny jeans.
IF YOU HAD ONE PIECE OF STYLE ADVICE FOR WOMEN, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Buy things that are tailored to your body type. Everyone has parts of themselves that they don’t want emphasized. Clothing can help build your confidence and make you feel more confident to do what you are called to.
LEADERSHIP: BORN OR BRED My entire life I’ve believed leaders were divided into two categories:
1. Born leaders, and 2. Those who aspire to lead. This notion was buttressed in college as I pursued my degree in Business (paying particular attention to Steve Jobs, Carly Fiorina, and Condoleeza Rice), but the idea was first planted by watching my father pastor the largest church in East Los Angeles. Standing behind the pulpit, no one doubts he was born to lead thousands of working-class Americans to Christ.
Following his footsteps, my twin sister—Bianca Juarez Olthoff—was born to lead others. She aspires to follow those who inspire her, but simultaneously leads campaigns for justice, equality, and growth at A21. (You might also recognize her as the Creative Director for Propel.) But ten years ago, my thinking changed; there aren’t two types of leaders. No, there are many leadership types. I somehow stumbled into leadership and I tried to give it back with the same ferocity I employed as a child when my mother gifted me a toothbrush for Christmas when I was eight years old. In 2005, after expressing my desire to become a photographer (a completely far-fetched and seemingly impossible dream), my husband gave me a camera with the following instructions: “I’d rather see you fail at something you love, than succeed at something you hate.” In the span of ten years, my dream came to fruition in ways I couldn’t even imagine. A few years into the business, I garnered awards (Top 10 Wedding Photographer in the World, Top 10 Most Socially Influential Photographer, etc.) and saw my work published in more magazines than I can list. While the sparkle of accolades was alluring, it was dulled by personal doubt. I was a self-taught photographer; I was criticized for my lack of qualifications, I didn’t have a network or resources to pull from. Basically, I felt alone. And in no position to lead. But, somehow, leadership found me. I soon became a voice for photographers and creatives who didn’t fit the mold of a professional artist. My platform was built on the belief that hard work, determination, and grit were the key pieces of building a successful business…even if a creative lacked the formal accoutrements of artisanship. I can now say I am a leader. However, I lead with a limp. My professional shortcomings were once perceived as impediments to accepting a leadership role, but I’ve realized the very thing that makes me feel inadequate is what is needed to effectively guide others to self-belief. The lack of traditional qualifiers for leadership forces me to be humble, to be open to innovative ideas, and to admit I don’t have all the answers. I navigate the art world to the beat of my own drum, with a renegade of audacious dreamers in tow. Together we’re following our passions, empowering others, and believe we are destined for great things, even when we have a hard time believing it ourselves.
Jasmine Star @JasmineStar LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER, ENTREPRENEUR, AND CREATIVE. WWW.JASMINESTAR.COM
“ASK GOD WHAT IS REQUIRED OF YOU IN SERVICE.”
GOD IS NOT DONE WITH YOU After graduate school, I started finding myself in rooms
against other people; to find places of respect, commonality,
where I had no business being. Experts call this “imposter
and always ask God what is required of you in service.
syndrome,” most often found in women and manifesting in feelings of self-doubt and deep suspicion that you’re a fraud.
Through this work, I found myself in Norway in December,
Despite the credential around your neck, you perhaps slipped
honored to be working for Malala Yousafzai, the 17 year-old
in the back door of the summit or press room.
Pakistani education advocate. As she received the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside her fellow Laureate Kailash Satyarthi
Someone surely made a mistake. Because who would let me,
who has freed thousands of children from slavery in India,
the broken girl from the fractured family, be in charge of
I sat in the Nobel hall astounded and humbled. Somehow,
anything of merit or note? I’m not smart enough, or pretty
God took a beat up, broken girl and gave me the opportunity
enough, or well connected enough. I’m just not enough.
to help serve Malala in her mission to reach girls globally through education. Girls, who like I was, are told they have
It turns out God has a way of working with not enough.
no worth. Now a woman, I cried in gratitude that heartbreak
God can use the most unlikely people, and often does.
at the hands of man could instead be made fuel for service and compassion in God.
I came to a life of faith unexpectedly. I was raised in the American South, where church was often the most segregated
Many years ago, I started writing myself postcards from all
hour in America and women weren’t permitted to be in
over the world, to remind me of all God has done with me
authority. It wasn’t a religion I wanted any part of.
and that He’s not done yet. To be grateful, because it’s the most powerful reminder to just work harder when you want
My family was filled with abuse, alcohol, and anger. As a girl,
to rest. When I became pregnant, I started writing them to
I contemplated suicide, because I didn’t think I’d ever be old
my son, too. Because unlike my childhood, I want my son to
enough to escape my life. I passed the years dreaming people
always know he is loved, on my mind and heart.
would stop hitting me and someone would rescue me. They Unlike the self-doubt and unworthiness I was given as a girl,
never stopped. No one ever came.
humility is knowing your true value. It’s your birthright in So I came by my doubts and questions about God quite
God no one can take away, that you are neither better nor
honestly. I became a Christian in my 20s, with myself the
worse than anyone else. It calls me to a practical faith. I hope
most surprised. People started to say to me, “I see something
wherever this finds you, no matter how broken or needing to
in you, you could be a leader, could do so much more than
believe, it will do the same. God is not done with you yet.
what you believe about yourself.” I would look at the ground. I’d been told I was worthless by the people meant to love me most, told by my father that my highest hope was a man might want me. God had a different idea. I started working with girls and women globally living in extreme poverty. I’ve been humbled to work in partnership with these women, especially from different backgrounds and faiths. This is the heart of
interfaith work, to walk out your own beliefs, but not stand
@MeighanStone INTERIM CEO OF THE MALALA FUND
NOT OUR IDENTITY “
Your job does not define you.” That’s an easy statement to make when you don’t have a job, or have
one that you hate. But what about when you have one that you love? Moreover, one that you are good at?
Truth is, I love my job at A21. It’s not a normal job. I am one of the lucky few that get paid to do thrilling and exciting work that changes lives. I love that I work in a non-clock-watching, step-up-to-the-plate, get-it-done, whatever-it-takes, work-hard-play-hard organization. For a while, I admit, I thought I earned my job based on all the small jobs I did over the years, all the hours I spent studying when everyone else was having fun, and all the memories missed out on. But working with our beautiful survivors each day has shown me the truth: the positions we have are gifts from God. We have been given the work we have, the families we have, the personalities we have, the birth rights we have. Any of us could have been a victim of human trafficking bar the sheer grace of God. We have our story. They have a story. And that is why I cannot let my job define me. I cannot interact with our survivors everyday exhibiting that example to them. I cannot show them a life where my value is determined by my prestigious job, when that is something they may never have. I can’t afford it. I cannot show them that my value is enumerated by the respect or success I receive, the busyness I feel, or my worth merited by the frequency of “dings” on my iPhone. I am not defined by my job; it is not who I am, not my identity. It’s what I do.
In this job, I have learned many things. Respect and money won’t come with me; the accomplishments and awards won’t make it on a shelf in heaven. Instead, how I treat my family, how I serve my co-workers, the effort made toward those that can give me nothing in return–no praise, no glory, no credit—that’s what I will carry into forever. How I managed my calling will go with me. After all, you can quit your job but you can’t quit your calling. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Would I still do this job without a paycheck? I think probably, yes, in some capacity. The job is not me, but I can bring all of me to the job. As a result, the job has to become part of me, something intertwined into the fabric of my life, all the while receiving my value and worth from Him, and only Him. Our jobs are not our identity.
“OUR JOB IS NOT OUR IDENTITY.”
Kyra Gordon EASTERN EUROPEAN OPERATIONS MANAGER FOR THE A21 CAMPAIGN
PROPEL believes in mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends who are changing the world. Check out these women and learn why we love them.
BRENDA SALTER McNEIL
Brenda Salter is a seminal Author, Speaker and pioneer in the field of racial, ethnic and gender reconciliation. She is the Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies, the Director of Reconciliation Studies Minor program at Seattle Pacific University, and a mother of two. @RevDocBrenda, SalterMcNeil.com
MAVIS STAPLES 06 Mavis Staples is a Gospel Singer and Civil Rights Activist who uses music as a vehicle to illuminate the importance of hope and justice in any society. She has been responsible for introducing the gospel to millions of people through a ministry which spans many decades. @MavisStaples, MavisStaples.com
JENNY YANG 05 Jenny Yang is the Vice President of Advocacy and Policy at World Relief. She tirelessly works with members of congress, their staffers, and the Administration to improve refugee and immigration policy. She is also the Co足author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration. @JennyYangWR
LYNNE HYBELS 01 Lynne Hybels is the Co足f ounder of Willow Creek Community Church, and is a passionate advocate for global engagement. Lynne partners with local churches in war-足t orn areas to restore dignity and freedom for all people. She is the author of several books, and actively details her personal convictions in her online blog. @LynneHybels, Lynnehybels.com
THULI MADONSELA 02 Thuli Madonsela was one of the 11 technical experts who helped the Constitutional Assembly draft the final constitution in 1994 and 1995. Named in the Times 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Thuli is not only a Public Protector and Advocate for the High Court of South Africa, but she is also a Human Rights Lawyer, Equality Expert and mother of two. @ThuliMadonsela3
BETHANY HAMILTON DIRKS 03 Bethany Hamilton is an American professional surfer who survived a 2003 shark attack which consequently left her without an arm. With great resilience, she returned to professional surfing and went on to become a motivational speaker and bestselling author. @BethanyHamilton, BethanyHamilton.com
Blogger, designer, and mother of four with a heart for business. She is the Founder of an online print shop called Naptime Diaries, and the co足founder of The Influence Network. @JessAConnolly, NaptimeDiaries.com
PEERS AND MENTORS I f you want to grow in leadership, then conferences, training
events, and resources play a vital role and are worth the
Esther would not have reached her leadership potential without
investment. Yet nothing propels your leadership like healthy
Mordecai. She would not have discovered that she was called
peer and mentoring relationships. These relationships have
to deliver her people and change the course of history. Barak
catalytic impact; they protect you from the wounding loneliness
wouldn’t have realized his potential without Deborah. She
and isolation inflicts on leaders; they strengthen your skills and
ignited his courage to lead an army against an intimidating
develop your leadership capacity; they ignite creativity and
enemy. Mentors help us see further when they invest their time
position you for wider opportunities. The Bible says it simplest:
and wisdom into our lives. They help us lead further as they draw
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return
out talents and skills that lay dormant or ignored. I’ve enjoyed
for their labor” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). As you commit to growth,
the benefit of male mentors in my career; it’s been insightful
consider how you’ll invest in these two types of relationships.
to see my context and my leading from a male perspective. It’s strengthened my ability to lead confidently when I’m the only woman in the room. But female mentors also know the life I’m
in, navigating career, marriage, family life; their wisdom and
Think of your relationships with other women leaders. Do you
experience is a game changer for my leadership,
sharpen each other through collaboration, or cut one another down through competition? Do these relationships cultivate
“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the
confidence or crush you through comparison?
shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton
“As iron sharpens iron, So one person sharpens another.”
If you want to see further, lead further, seek a mentor. Pray
about it, but be proactive in seeking a mentor at church or through your professional network. However, if you want to
Jonathan and David are a great biblical example of friendship
unleash an untamed kingdom influence that permeates our
amongst leaders. Jonathan recognized David’s calling as king,
culture and transforms society – BE a mentor.
even though he was the rightful heir to the throne. Jonathan wasn’t threatened by David’s growing popularity and success;
Propel another generation into their calling. Take all you’re
instead he encouraged David, protected his reputation, and even
learning and invest it in a group of hungry, passionate leaders.
saved his life. When David struggled, Jonathan “strengthened
Observe them so you can encourage their progress. Share your
his hand with God.” David would not have realized his potential
stories; the lessons learned from failure, the victories hard
without Jonathan. We all need this level of friendship with other
won. Tell them how you make life work. Call them up and call
leaders. Instead of relationships strained by insecurity
them forward. Invest in peers, invest in mentoring. Not only
and fear, cultivate authentic friendships where you
will you grow personally, but you’ll be a catalyst for
recognize and celebrate each another’s talents and
unstoppable leadership in today’s world.
successes. Where you can have a bad day and she can pull you to your feet again. Develop relationships where you serve one another, where you’re so committed to each other’s progress, you encourage connections and make introductions to expand each other’s opportunities and influence. I’m so grateful for friends like these. These sisters have stood with me in the most challenging leadership season. They’ve celebrated with me as I’ve grown and stepped into new responsibilities. They pray
with and for me and my family. They strengthen my hand in
God. These fellow leaders inspire me and challenge me forward.
CO PASTOR OF MISSION POINT CHURCH AND CHAIRS THE BOARD OF 3DMOVEMENTS
And we laugh together at the days to come.
“SEEK A MENTOR. BE A MENTOR.”
BESTOWING HONOR AND GRACE ON OTHERS It was apparent the moment she donned my doorway something was amiss. The hunched shoulders, the nervous hands, and the eyes that darted around my office in all directions,
told me she was burdened. I motioned for her to pull up a seat at my desk and make herself comfortable. I wasn’t sure why one of my favorite graduate students had come to visit me after class, but I was fairly certain it wasn’t for a cordial visit. “Dr. Crenshaw,” she blurted abruptly, “I cheated on this morning’s quiz, and I feel so very guilty about it.” This wasn’t the first time a student confessed to academic dishonesty, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I found myself in this kind of situation. Yet, there was a distinct difference in the circumstances of this academic violation that has forever marked me as a professor. It was the first time God prompted my heart to bestow grace and restore honor to a student who clearly had not earned it. Weeks before the incident, through a series of sermons and readings, God began teaching me what it looks like to give grace and bring honor to people when they need it the most. It’s easy to praise others when they’re doing something well or right, but it’s much more problematic to praise them when they’ve disappointed our expectations. We’re inclined to celebrate people’s victories, but we tend to shame people’s failures. Thankfully, that’s not the form of leadership Christ models for His followers. The kind of correction Christ demonstrates for His people does not call us out as sinners but calls us up to holiness. The Bible tells the story of God’s people who are created in His image but have fallen into the world’s snares. Only, the narrative doesn’t stop there. Christ redeems His people and restores them to a place of honor. 1 Peter 2:17 heartens us to honor everyone, love our brothers and sisters, fear God, and respect His authority. The mandate to honor others does not minimize mistakes or blatant sins. In fact, in the verses just before, scripture challenges us to live a life of righteousness so the world may see we are a people set apart. Being set apart from the world entails leading in a way that offers grace and honor. It means choosing to believe, and even contend, for God’s best in others, particularly when there is little evidence of virtue. I love a Bill Johnson quote that beautifully articulates this point: “Honor is celebrating who someone is without stumbling over who they’re not.” To be clear, my graduate student faced consequences for her offense. I upheld the university’s policy for this incident because holding people to consequences is often an integral part of their repentance process. Even still, before she left my office, I emphasized all the wonderful qualities I saw in her: I commended her honesty, lauded her participation in class, admired her volunteerism with children, and, most importantly, assured her the incident was not a reflection of her worth or identity. As believers, garnering repentance alone from others should not be our goal when people disappoint us; instead, we should use our place of influence to create a high standard of holiness and an equally high measure of grace and honor when they miss the mark. There is a difference between leaving people in a position where they identify as sinners and leading people to a place where they identify as redeemed. Grace invites us away from hopelessness, affirms our honored place in Christ, and empowers us to walk in the will of God.
“HONOR IS CELEBRATING WHO SOMEONE IS WITHOUT STUMBLING OVER WHO THEY’RE NOT.”
Dr. Christina Crenshaw @CYCrenshaw FACULTY IN SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
A21 STORY Rosa* first traveled to Greece to be a nanny. When the kids grew up and she was out of a job, she was excited about a new career and adventure. She decided to apply at a local hotel hopeful that they would hire her. Although she wasn’t hired for the job, the hotel’s security guard offered her a position with his business. She accepted and traveled with him to Thessaloniki where she was introduced to his partner. Upon arrival, instead of opportunity, they kidnapped her, locked her up, raped her and started sending clients to see her. She fought back with everything she had inside of her, but the more she fought, the more abusive they would become. She was sent to a strip club where she was under the supervision of her abusers at all times. One time, she accidentally cried in front of a customer. She was expecting punishment, but instead, he asked her softly if she was okay. “No,” she replied. That night police raided the club and Rosa was brought into A21’s care. When she first came to A21, she was convinced that her life was ruined forever. After what she had experienced she believed that no one would love her and had lost hope for a normal life. After months in A21’s care, Rosa’s outlook on life began to change. Providing the resources to generate job interviews, she was offered a full time job and moved into independent living. She is currently thriving in her new position where she received a promotion after one month on the job. Rosa’s story is one example of the many survivors who have come through A21’s care. She has hopes and dreams again for her future just like the many before her.
To learn more about human trafficking or to become a monthly partner, visit A21.org! *Survivor’s name and photo are changed for her protection.
PASSION PURPOSE POTENTIAL