Women of Influence
[This is post #3 in a series on "Heritage" - the legacy others have left to us and the legacy we are leaving to those whose lives we touch.]
In the presence of God, ordinary women leave extraordinary legacies.
We women have influence. Always have. Always will. We have influence, whether we realize it or not. (Of course, you guys do too. But its Mothers’ Day coming up fellas. Don’t forget!)
It wasn’t until I began teaching our son James to drive, realizing he was watching as I pressed a heavy foot down on that gas pedal, that I considered what I might have already taught him indirectly. Only then did it dawn on me that he was learning by observation. (You would have thought it would have dawned on me before he reached the age of 15!)
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 ESV
With Mothers’ Day coming up this Sunday, I would like pay tribute to a few women who have influenced my life. And, in the process, prod you to start thinking seriously about those who have influenced you as well as those you, in turn, are influencing.
Most everyone who influenced me had no clue they were actually teaching. They were simply living their lives - mentors by default, unaware of the impact their lives made.
Velma mentored me in the joy of continued learning as we delved into the history, archaeology and geography of the Holy Land.
Jean introduced me to the power of cooperate prayer, how together we could raise our voices to the Lord and be heard. She mentored a personal relationship with God rather than devotion to "religion".
Alice mentored the importance of working for God in His church, of giving of myself alongside others to build His Kingdom.
In more recent times, Susan has mentored the value of true friendship. Joy has mentored the value of studying God's Word together. Julia has mentored the value of families supporting each other. Linda has mentored the value of struggling together in a "support group" of two.
Of course, I must include my momma as my first and foremost mentor. She taught me how to make really sweet tea and to never ever to leave home without my makeup. Many of her lessons I did not appreciate at the time. Neither did we agree on everything…like the appropriate length of my skirts in the 60s. But she was an awesome mentor, and, like the others, most of what she taught me was by default - me watching the way she lived her days.
I thought a lot about mom after she died, not long before one Mothers’ day. And I believe, in essence, her life modeled six aspects of Christian living.
She modeled how to love and serve God. Along with Dad, she had us in church every time the doors opened. Every. Single. Time. But she didn’t just go and sit. She served. Faithfully.
She modeled how to care about people. Mom looked for the best in everyone. Even when someone acted bad, she searched for the reason and the good. She cooked for the bereaved and the sick, was caregiver for parents, and always found ways to encourage.
She modeled how to give generously. Mom took much pleasure in giving of her resources: to the church, to mission work, to any and every good cause she heard about. In her last few years with dementia, I had to confiscate her checkbook and credit cards because her soft heart was the perfect target for scammers.
She modeled how to give of herself. She generously gave of herself: family first, then church, friends and community. When I was grown and married, she insisted on taking a painting class with me – not because she wanted to paint but because the class was in a part of town that was potentially unsafe.
She modeled how to be thankful. Momma was thankful for everything she had, and she was thankful for everyone who did anything for her. Even at the last, in the hospital emergency room, she was smiling and thanking the nurses for jabbing her with needles and caring for her in her pain.
These women probably never considered leaving a legacy of any kind. Yet they taught all these things. Maybe their most valuable lesson was this: We do have great influence whether we are aware of it or not.
And Influence is power – power to do good or do harm. It is a wonderful or terrible gift that God has entrusted to us, depending on how we use it.
I never will be as sweet and giving as my momma. I have intentionally tried to clean up my act a bit through the years to follow more closely in her footsteps. But I still have a looong way to go to perfect! In fact, I hesitate to ask James what he has learned from me because I am afraid it will not all be positive.
Just remember, people are watching us!! Our life will leave a legacy that will outlive us. So what are we teaching by the way we live our days? By the words we say and the way we speak? Who are we mentoring by default? Think about it.
Hugs and blessings,
Dear Lord, it is a bit scary thinking that people are watching how I live. I know I am not always a good example. Please help me be more aware that I am teaching with my attitude, my actions, and my words. Help me to live as You want me to live. Amen.
A CHALLENGE TO PRAYERFULLY CONSIDER
What legacy are you building now by the way you are living your days?
Who are you mentoring by default? Add your thoughts to the blog comments if you are willing to share. We all need fresh inspiration, but, we need cautions as well. Legacies can be both positive and negative.
Think about it.