Last year, I joined a group of women in Denver, Colorado to discuss what type of event would best help women leaders thrive. Let me say that again: I joined a group of amazing women, and since then many of them have either shown up in my upcoming book or right here with the Invisible Army Project. One of those women was Christie Love, the founder of LeadHer, a ministry dedicated to “growing women God’s way”. LeadHer is a grassroots organization that strives not only to equip women for leadership, but also send them back into their communities to serve. LeadHer grew out of a painful period after her divorce, when Christie found the superficiality of the local women’s ministries woefully inadequate in helping her deal with life’s Here’s Christie’s story:
Tell me the story of how you came to start Lead Her.
I found myself as a single mom, recently divorced, sitting at a women’s conference. I wasn’t getting anything—it wasn’t clicking with me. I wondered, “How many women are here today wishing there was something different?” I knew there’s got to be something that pulls women together besides holding hands and eating chocolate.
I began praying [for something different], but I didn’t find anything and after several years, I realized God had given this to me. It was a tug of war, and I had excuse after excuse why I wasn’t the one to start something. I wasn’t qualified—I had no college or seminary training. I realized that there may have been another person more qualified, but nobody was more passionate. My heart’s broken—His heart’s broken—over what women go through. So, I trusted that God would show me how to do it along the way.
What were the specific needs that weren’t being met by traditional approaches to
I found myself in a very brown place Halee, longing for someone to say to me, “It’s going to be okay.” I was watching a lot of women go through struggles and getting polished stories of how it turned out. They’re lovely stories, but no one told me how to go through it. I was really hoping to get practical application, “Okay, here’s the problem, here things to try.” Needed more than a pep talk.
I’m like, “It’s not the social club. Women don’t need to go to church to get their hair done. That’s not going to challenge us or help us grow. Women need skills to do reality on a daily basis, to handle reality in a way that they can still make an impact.
Take me through the launching process. What was your first step?
Prayer –lots and lots of prayer. Don’t take any path without paving it in prayer. I needed like-minded women willing to invest time and energy, and skills to fill in gaps where I was weak. Let me tell you what. I started having people message me on twitter, “You’re doing something big, can I help?” I built a team of 25 women in 2 months and we met in a private Facebook group.
How are the women getting connected to the needs in their community?
That’s a huge one. One of the biggest ways is listening to their community, because we often project our needs on the families around us. Encourage them [to listen to their communities] as the chapters get going and find someone with a heart with outreach that’s able to keep a pulsepoint on the community and the struggles affecting our community. In one case, a group “adopted” a single mom with no money or family for awhile.
One of the big ones we see several groups involved in food banks. In Missouri, the local economy is rough and food banks are shutting their doors. Other groups are really passionate about [human] trafficking in their area. It really depends on the culture of that community and where they are at.
Did you always see yourself as a leader?
Great question. I think I did. However, I think there were a lot of times that that title intimidated me because as a woman, I felt like I had to apologize for it. They have been lots of times in my life when I was very aware I had influence and impact. I don’t have this perfect story, yet I’ve learned all of that had purpose and it’s important to lead in seasons of struggle. And I don’t have to apologize for the way He created me.
What kinds of things helped you grow as a leader?
Struggle. I don’t think anything has helped me grow more than struggle. Struggle plays a huge part in strengthening leadership ability and character.
So many… I’ll pare them down for you briefly. I really see LeadHer with three big goals: 1.) Encouraging, equipping, and engaging women, 2.) Getting women to come together to build communities, and 3.) Getting women to see themselves as leaders. We can only pour into women to a certain point before we have to change the status quo and the context in which they’re leading.
Women deal with the same issues over and over. I’ve identified five core issues: emotions (women have got to learn we are not controlled by our emotions), conflict, identity, shame (my acronym for SHAME is: Satan hammering at me endlessly), and authenticity—being able to be who you are and not who you think you should be. As women we need to address these issues so we can help each other move forward.
LeadHer has already grown to 28 local chapters around the globe. To find out more about the ministry and how to start a local chapter near you, visit http://leadher.org!