For years I’ve prayed to know women who were smart, strong and leading in the church. And God brought me the Synergy Conference and not one women but dozens who’ve helped me embrace my own call to lead. Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jo, who, despite knowing a million and one awesome women, has not only encouraged me but reached out, calling me, chatting, spurring me onto the things that God has called me–and her!–to do. So I am so happy to introduce Jo and her first book (published in the US; she’s all famous in the UK) to you! Here’s a few questions I wanted to ask Jo about leading, ministry and writing a book:
1. Jo–you’ve lead in all kinds of ways, and all around the world! When did you first recognize that God was calling you into leadership roles?
I was the kind of person who also ended up in leadership positions, even in my teen years – whether I liked it or not. I would be recommended or voted into roles. I could never work out why. I always had dreams and ideas, but felt very unworthy of them and lacked confidence. It was during a my Bible College years that I was able to process with mentors that God had been trying to get through to me all my life.
2. What is one of the differences you’ve observed in the American church since moving here from the UK?
In America it seems that its still culturally acceptable to be an active member of a church, and to expect that Christian values should have an influential role in shaping politics and society.
In the UK to say you go to church and believe in Jesus is at best seen as unusual, and or worse – just plain weird. And the idea that the Christian faith would expect to have an influential role in the politics of the day is not welcome one!
3. Do you think in some sense that all women are leaders? And if not, what qualities do you think are important for women leaders?
I think in some sense we are. We’re more influential than we’re often comfortable with. There is always someone looking at some part of our lives as an example, . Also the Great Commission applies to every single Christian, not just those with a call to ministry. We’re all called to lead others to Christ, to make disciples, wherever we are, whatever stage of life we’re in.
4. What is one of the most challenging things you’ve faced as a leader?
Gosh – so many things come to mind! Leadership is a wonderful privilege, but its tough sometimes! I think the most challenging thing I’ve face and continue to face is to keep a healthy heart. That means forgiving when people hurt, and say mean things to me and I’d like to cry or slap someone , or both.. It means walking away from comparison and competition even when my insecurities would like to indulge me in an secret smackdown in my heart. It means that when things go really well and exciting opportunities come my way that I need to remember WHO this is about - Jesus. In those moments I need to reject the delusions of grandeur self satisfaction, ensure all glory goes to Jesus, and get on with carrying my cross and following Him. Its been really important to have solid raltionships with people who know me well and speak truth into my life, especially when its not what I want to hear.
5. If you could tell women just one important thing about leadership, what would it be?
Read about all the female leaders in the Bible who served God faithfully. They’re part of your spiritual heritage and they illustrate your God given potential.
6. More than Enchanting is a book about influence. What will your next book be about?
The next book I wrote with my friend Sally Breen. Its called High Heels and Holiness and is a discipling book for Christian young adult women. We talk about identity, calling, friends, dating, marriage, sex, life being a grown up Christian woman in a complex world. FUN!
7. In the book, you talk about a time that your friend Steve asked you this question, “Thirty years from now, and someone stands up to propose a toast about you….what will they say you have done with your life?” So, Jo, what’s your answer? What do you hope it will be?
My hope is that they would say I had a strong marriage, and raised daughters who had grown into strong Christian women with vibrant God filled lives. They’d acknowledge the presence of our big extended family of people who we’ve done life with for years, with some spiritual children who are as close to us as our girls They would say I wasn’t jaded or cynical about serving Jesus, but that I was still passionate, still a visionary. My husband and I would have run a fun race together: We’d have led some churches that became centers of mission, serving their cities, and beyond. We’d have raised up a generation of missional leaders who planted churches around the world, doing way more than we could ever achieve. We’d have empowered generation of women who didn’t just dream and wonder, but who lived out their call before God. And as they raised glasses, people would wonder at my gravity defying toned arms and taut abs. Though they’d work out my hair totally was dyed, mind you. After the all the fun Chris and me would then have a month long sabbatical in Hawaii to prayerfully consider what missional adventure would shape our 70’s. And I’d ask my kids when they were planning on giving me grandchildren.
Jo Saxton is a director of 3DM, a movement/organization helping church leaders make discipleship and mission the heartbeat of the local church. She travels and speaks to leaders all over the country. More than Enchanting is her second book.
I’d love to give this book away to a woman in ministry who’s looking for resources to help her lead. If that describes you, just email me at nicoleunice AT takeheartministry DOT com. First email is the winner!