The majority of Christian women are familiar with the example of the godly woman described in Proverbs 31. Her characteristics are most frequently associated with a woman’s place within the home; however, in their book Real Women Leading: With Proverbs 31 Values (New Hope® Publishers/February 3, 2014/978-1-59669-396-8/$14.99), business executives Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder assert the qualities of the woman described apply to leaders in the workplace as well. “Whether we are homeschooling children — which truly is a full-time vocation — or leading the board of directors meeting at a Fortune 500 corporation, the Proverbs 31 woman has something to teach all of us.”
Q: To what areas of a woman’s life does your book apply — work, church, ministry, home?
DY: It applies to all areas of life because it affects who we are and how we live. Who we are follows us to work, to church, in our homes and with our friends. When we embrace and apply the values of Proverbs 31, it improves the quality of our relationships and just makes our lives work better.
LT: God has given us the opportunity to influence no matter our background or station in life — homemakers as well as CEOs, Queen Esther’s or Samaritan women.
Q: The common perception of a leader is a person in a position of power or authority, whether in the workplace or church. Do you have to hold a title to be a leader, or as Christians do we have the responsibility to be leading by example constantly?
LT: Leadership is really influence — and each and every one of us has been given the opportunity to influence the environment in which God has placed us. We have a responsibility to God to be engaged, seeing where He is at work and joining Him there.
DY: Good leadership is not about power and authority; it is about relationship, service and influence. We are all in relationship with someone. We are all called to serve those around us, and we all have the ability to influence our environment. Matthew 5 talks about how we are here to be salt and light. I love the Message translation of this passage where it talks about bringing out the “God colors” and “God flavors” of this earth. We can all lead in this way from exactly the place God has us.
Q: How does a woman lead differently than a man?
LT: Often, but not always, there is a more nurturing aspect to the female leader’s approach. Whereas men tend to be more black-and-white, it’s been our experience that women will take a broader look at the potential that lies within an individual. Because women traditionally have more of a multi-tasking attitude, this may also attribute to the philosophy of “let’s explore a little deeper to find the best fit.” Sometimes that’s an incredible growth and building experience, but often it’s a bit tougher to make a break when needed.
DY: I don’t think it is so much about leading like a woman or leading like a man. I think the bigger concern is leading like Jesus. Seeing who others can aspire to become, adding value to them, serving them, setting them up for success, having a heart for them, telling them the truth in absolute love, forgiving them — these are the important things. Male or female, we all have a responsibility to do that well.
Q: How did you narrow down and choose the 10 key principles that are outlined in the book? Of the 10, which do you find the most challenging personally?
DY: In carefully combing through the passage, many values leapt off the page at us, and it was difficult to narrow it down to just 10. We thought about which ones have the biggest effect on our personal development, our spiritual growth, and our relationships with others (in the home, community, church and corporations) and used those to put the book together.
There are times when I struggle with each of the values, to be sure. There are moments I say something I wish hadn’t, situations that are tough to forgive and times when I just don’t want to choose a good attitude. However, for me the most challenging value on a daily basis is planning. We all have our areas of strength, and planning is not mine. However, I know I cannot be successful without planning — it isn’t something I can decide not to do if I want my busy life to work well. So it requires discipline, focus and intentionality for me to do well with it.
Q: If readers only walk away with one thing from Real Women Leading, what do you hope that will be?
LT: God has placed you where you are at in this season to influence those around you for His Kingdom purposes. You have the choice to embrace transformation for yourself and to use what God has already given you to impact those around you.
DY: God has given us all we need to be what He has called us to be, if we do it in and through Him.