Last weekend as we celebrated Mother’s Day at Crossway we took the opportunity to intentionally focus on women of influence. We took the time to reflect on and be thankful for women who have made their mark on our lives; women of example; women of encouragement and inspiration.
Let me ask you today, as you think about women of influence, who would be on your list? Who are women over the different stages of your life who have made a big difference in your journey? Who are the women who have shaped who you are today?
You may like to share in a simple exercise as I have done this week and over a cup of coffee or tea sit and jot down the names of women of influence and reflect on what qualities you saw in them.
I always find this is a challenging exercise because it makes me consider afresh my attitude and example and the influence I am having on others.
Here’s just some of the names from my long list:
- – Mrs Box, a faithful Sunday School teacher who made a big impression on me in my early childhood years
- – Mrs Pickering, a Primary School teacher who helped me see potential and build self-confidence and belief.
- – A passionate youth group leader Wynette who nurtured leadership in me.
- – An encouraging Pastor Joy who mentored and coached me; who was brave enough to let me at 17 preach my first sermon.
- – A high school teacher Anne who encouraged me to pursue my love for words and writing, opening the door to a career in journalism
- – My grandmother Elva – one of the most loving and generous people I have ever met
- – My aunty Ellen who has been a source of constant encouragement in my life and my late Aunty Judy, who always spoke potential into my life
- – A visionary boss June who opened the door to new career possibilities
- – Female colleagues who encouraged me, cheered me on, stood by in different seasons of life
- – My mum, who has modelled unconditional love throughout my life
- – And my beautiful wife, who has stood by me in the highs and lows, who continues to invest in me and my hopes and dreams and makes be a better person.
There are so many qualities captured in these strong, courageous and inspiring women. There is so much about these women that I want to model in my life today.
Last weekend at Crossway I had the privilege of interviewing four women across our Mother’s Day weekend services. It was encouraging to hear some of their personal stories and also invite them to share about women who had influenced them.
As they spoke about different women who have spanned their lives over the past seventy plus years key words kept echoing through these stories – words like love, faith, grace, authenticity encouragement and generosity.
It’s easy to read those words quickly, but can I repeat them again today. Can I invite you to pause with me and consider afresh each of these character qualities and the difference they make in the lives of other people.
Love – something we all yearn for and were wired to give and receive
Faith – that inspires others; that reflects Jesus; that keeps us going when life is tough
Grace – that keeps believing in people and seeing the best in others
Authenticity – that mark of genuineness that we yearn for in life
Encouragement – that powerful fuel for the soul in a world that so often be harsh and critical
Generosity – that life-giving response from those who are free to serve others with their time, heart, hospitality, finances and spirit.
At the end of our panel interview last weekend I asked each of the panellists to nominate some words to describe how they would want to be remembered. I love asking that question.
Yes, it’s a challenging, sobering question – but’s it’s also a powerful reminder that we are shaping a life legacy here and now. We don’t leave a legacy at the end of life; we shape one throughout our life.
As Gary Vaynerchuck writes: “Please think about your legacy, you are writing it every day.”
Vaynerchuck is spot on and that ought to cause us to stop and take stock of our attitudes, actions and priorities.
The reality is we are all people of influence and as an old mentor of mine used to say there is no “middle ground” here – we are either living as a positive influence in the lives of others or we are a negative example. We are either life-giving or life-taking.
I see that powerfully with my little kids. They see me as I am. There is little I can hide from them. They can call me out. They are taking in all of me. And they model me – the good and the bad.
This past week it has been wonderful to again celebrate influence – to celebrate women of influence; it has been good to again take the time to remember and thank God for women who had made a lasting impact on my life [and there have been plenty of men as well].
It’s also been challenging to again take the time to consider my own example. I am thankful that God isn’t finished with me yet. I am a work in progress. There are still many rough edges to work on, but at the same time I am shaping a legacy today. I am writing my legacy in the ordinary and mundane, as well as the extraordinary and eventful.
Can I invite you to take time this week to celebrate women of influence in your life. Can I encourage you to take time to consider your example and influence and what matters most. Are these the things we are pursuing most passionately in our lives? Are we making the most of our opportunities to shape a legacy that lasts!