By Jessica Wolfe
Note: As I was writing this post about being a strong woman with a voice, of course I felt like I was at my weakest. The Lord definitely has a sense of humor.
Being a strong woman is not for the faint of heart. However, I believe it is something we are called to. God has given women a special perspective on the world.
But how do we do it? How can we be bold, strong, and brave without coming across as difficult, rude, and off-putting? I am far from having all the answers, but during my years of professional ministry and adulting in general, I’ve picked up some insights.
Speak up with care. Using your voice well is often about timing. I get schooled in this lesson nearly every day. Over the years I’ve realized that my first response is usually not the right one. When I take time to process and articulate my thoughts, a much clearer, much more thoughtful response usually comes out. My mentor once said it’s helpful to count to ten in your head before responding in a tense situation. It helps ensure you respond instead of react (and it’s a great opportunity to send up a quick prayer). Also, as the old adage goes, “less is more.” Not everything requires a response. You don’t need to take every hill. If you’re talking all the time, people will tune you out. If you speak up when it’s important or necessary, people will listen to what you have to say.
Don’t be intimidated. I am sorry to say it, but in the world at large and in Christian culture, there are still many people who think women should be seen and not heard (and sisters, they are just wrong). Don’t give in to them! God has gifted you with unique perspectives and passions, not just as a woman, but as the individual He made you to be. And there are times when He’s asking you to share that with an audience. When you feel that lump in your throat or pit in your stomach and you’re wondering if what you say will be received well, remind yourself of Psalm 118:6: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Press forward and speak up, knowing you are honoring the Lord.
Be teachable. No one likes a know-it-all. And odds are you’re not always going to be right (I know I’m not). Maybe there’s another perspective you need to consider. Maybe your way is not the only way. Work proactively with others. You just might be surprised by what you come up with together. And you may learn something new.
Be a great listener. People want to listen to you when they feel like you’re listening to them. If you are just going through the motions, waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can say your piece, people can tell. Really listen to others. Process what they are saying and how they are saying it (look for non-verbal cues). Most of the time, this will inform how you respond to them, for the better.
Be confident. If you don’t believe in what you’re saying, no one else will either. Again, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God for a purpose. Your place, your voice, is no accident. And it is needed. Remind yourself of that when your demons are trying to convince you that your perspective is not needed or is stupid. Be confident in who the Lord made you to be. You are an incredible woman and your voice matters.
There is no foolproof plan to always get it right. We learn as we go. Think of it as an adventure—one where you get to grow a skill that the Lord will use in endless ways. When you speak up ungracefully, be kind to yourself. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.
You are capable of so much. Your voice can change the world. I’m rooting for you, sisters.
Jessica Wolfe is a coach, writer, producer, wife, and mom. Justice advocate. Iced tea drinker. Avid reader. Part-time cyclist and photographer. Lover of Jesus. Catch Jessica’s sporadic musings at choosinglovenotfear.postach.io.