I am 37 years old today. This day and stage of my life has me laying prostrate on the floor, looking up at Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my Faith. This is not because it is a holy and poetic stance to take at this milestone rather, it is because this is as high as I can climb right now. And for the very first time in my life, I wholeheartedly embrace that.
It has taken 37 years of climbing ladders to finally understand that face down and hands up is at the same time the most humbling and elevating position to be in.
As I write this I can hear thousands of gospel songs playing out in my head and I relate to every single one of them. “You are God, I am not” – I hear you; “All glory belongs to You” – Amen; “Never would have made it without You” – that is the honest truth; “Greater things have yet to come” – They better; and the list goes on.
The past 5 years have been particularly eventful. I can actually say there was a Modesta before 2012 and a Modesta after 2012. Before 2012 I was an Entrepreneur with “Christian”, “Woman”, “Young”, “Professional”, “Leader” tagged next to my name. After 2012, I became a Christian-Wife-Mother- Professional-Entrepreneur-Mentor-Leader, that’s a mouthful!
But more than the difficulty of saying many words stringed together, is how challenging I have found it, as a woman, to contain it all. Wearing all these hats makes it challenging to keep it all together.
Give me a shout out if you can relate to any of this:
Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me
As a Christian, there are things I simply will not do and, have at many times had to pass up business opportunities and potential for generating significant revenues because I won’t do what everybody else does to get ahead in business.
In both professional and private relationships, I have had to walk away from confrontation and turn the other cheek when openly and repeatedly dishonoured so that I can honour God in my heart and conduct. This pierces deep but, I am reminded that enduring suffering and persecution identifies us with Christ.
The hardest of all has been sacrificing my and my family’s wellbeing; my very brother, husband and even children, so that others can gain then, to have those, whose interests I have prioritized over loved ones’, turn around and insult me to my face. Yet, I must still let go, let God and do good by them.
Wife, Submit to Your Husband
Boy, has being a wife taught me lessons on leadership! I didn’t see this one coming at all. Whereas until 2012, my role was to go before; taking the responsibility for others, often having both the last buck and blame stop with me as their leader. Now as a wife, I have had to adjust to life under someone else’s leadership, often having to submit and obey even when the leader in me was screaming “I wouldn’t do it that way, if I were you”. I have learned to negotiate and influence knowing I don’t have the veto, and, that staging a coup comes at a price that that is too great to pay.
They say “alone you go fast, together you go far.” The impatient go-getter in me disagrees and thinks ‘alone I can go both fast and far!’ Then the Voice of Wisdom (which is not my own) tells me to think long-term and I stand down.
Train a Child in the Way She Should Go
Next to my second birth in Christ, having children has transformed me more than anything before they arrived. I totally missed the memo on what motherhood entails. From pregnancy to date, my husband and I think, speak and act, with our daughters in mind. We have no life nor career aspirations that don’t consider and prioritise their welfare and future wellbeing.
Despite what I am facing and how I feel, I must find a way of presenting the best version of myself to them because they not only do what I say, they imitate what I do.
My mind flashes with positive images of powerful women leaders that my mother and aunts modeled to us. I have remained almost unscathed by gender discrimination because the women who went before me slayed the giants they faced both at home and at work. So, feel like it or not, I have to suck it up so that my girls can see that they too, can take on life and master it – not because it is easy but because if other women can, if Mum can, they can too.
A Truly Competent Worker Will Serve Kings
I knew my life was not my own when I had to defer getting my graduate degree four times in the past 3 years so that I can have and raise our daughters.
Don’t even get me started about business; from a person who worked till the job got done, I am now restricted to doing what I can when I can steal time away. The professional has given way to the personal and the entrepreneur to the exhausted stay at home Mum who is wondering if life is passing me by and my dreams all but vanished.
The final nail on “Me” was hammered when “We” took up with no more than suitcases in hand to follow Daddy, our leader and, His Master, to a place God will show us. You’d think I should have known that ours would be an adventurous journey when the Holy Spirit gave us Genesis 12:1-3 as the scripture over our marriage.
Whoever Wants to Be Great Must Be a Servant
The most fulfilling professional role I have played has also been the most personally consuming one. Mentor-leading leaders is no joke! You see, I believe that everyone was created by God on purpose and for a specific purpose. As Dr. Myles Munroe said, everyone is a leader in their area of gifting. My assignment includes identifying and investing my heart and mind to equip these leaders to discover their gifts then develop to serve them as solutions the world has been waiting for.
I often say “I shouldn’t want your success more than you” but, I think many a times, I do. God gave me a gift to see what He has deposited in those He is grooming for strategic positions of influence and like a bull with a ring on its nose, He pulls me every which way as He challenges me to grow to be what these leaders need on their journey to mentor-leadership of others.
Leading people is stressful. Leading leaders can be insane. “God I’m not cut out for this!” “Father s/he is fighting me against his/her own progress!” “Maybe I should focus on my own life and my own family first” “Lord, please find someone else” I lament, more often than I care to admit. I am only one woman, for Pete’s sake!
I recently read someone’s post about his people not being up to par for the vision he was driving so, I commented that he should invest in mentorship and he said “Done that”. I chuckled. I wish it were that easy but there is no end to mentor-leadership. When you meet people, who have wait it takes to literally turn the world right side up, you don’t take mentoring them as an event or a short-term intervention. To mentor-lead others is to see greatness in another and agree to do life with them as you lead by example, serve and empower them to take lead. You model behaviours as they watch; partner with them as they grow; watch them as they master their gifts and; learn from them as they lead you and others to the fulfilment of the vision God has put in their hearts. I have lost and found my mind as a mentor-leader. Most importantly, I have experienced God’s heart, humility and humanity in laying down one’s life so that others may cross.
At the Feet of Jesus
So, this is where you find me on my 37th birthday – face down, with my hands up. What I didn’t tell you at the beginning is that it has not been by choice. I have been pushed to this position of surrender. All those hats, all those roles, in my own strength, I couldn’t keep them all up in the air. Many impressive tags but at the end of the day, I am really just one woman. And this one woman and sometimes, this little girl, is learning that there is no place of greater strength than resting in Jesus and no place of highest honour than in complete abandonment at His feet.
I know I have been created, kept, saved and sent to impact others, but I cannot do it on my own and I cannot do it the way I have always done. I have taken on new roles in life and together, they have created a new person.
My prayer for myself and for you who finds yourself juggling several roles, is that you will quiet your soul and humble your flesh. Asking for the grace to be present, to be intentional, to be grateful and to be effective every day and in every role, you have to play.
His strength is perfected in our weakness for, seated in and with Him, when we are weak then we are strong. Knowing that He has plans to prosper and not harm us, to give us a hope and a future, may we yield to His leading as we trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways, submit to Him and He will show us which way to go.
I bless you and declare that all things will work for your good, that your latter will be even greater and your legacy will last to generations, in Jesus’ Name!