I still get a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach when I think of myself as a “leader.” I really prefer being a “helper” to leaders. Don’t tell anyone, but I usually just do the work in front of me and try not to think about it!
For several years, I’ve had the title of leader in different jobs I have been asked to do. The work assignment required a leader to lead and I was selected. I’ve been told that I’m the first woman in leadership at the executive level of LifeWay’s entire history. That’s a lot for this country girl to take in! I am so thankful that God’s plans require obedience not perfection.
I currently serve on an amazing leadership team with the President and CEO of LifeWay, Dr. Thom Rainer. When I broke the glass ceiling for women in my executive leadership role, no one celebrated more than Dr. Rainer. He had the courage to call out the gifts in me and to challenge the system that had never taken this step before. I am so humbled and so blessed to serve on the executive leadership team with him and six other amazingly gifted men. They allow me to be me and at the same time they challenge me. We are a very diverse group in so many ways, but in that diversity is the best of leadership and the best of teamwork. We push and pull, we debate and challenge, we laugh and we get upset with each other. But mostly we pray and ask God to work through us to serve the church faithfully until Christ returns. There is nothing passive about our team.
God has made us different as men and women. The difference is beautiful and a part of God’s greater design. I absolutely love being a woman — and I lead as a woman.
When I began my current leadership role, a dear friend prayed over me. She challenged me to be “me” in this new role: “It is who you already are, not who you must become that God has called to this work.” I can’t tell you how many times those words have given me the resolve to lead. On those days when I am most insecure or most afraid, I do the fundamentals — I pray and seek God’s direction, and, then by faith, I lead. I remember the woman I am who was captured by the grace of God as a 9-year-old girl and simply hasn’t gotten over it yet.
I look forward to sharing with you and learning from you about leadership. At its core, being a leader means dying to ourselves and letting Christ live through us. It’s not about my will but His will. It’s about the joy of being the daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
Selma Wilson is the Vice President of Organizational Development a tLifeway Christian Resources.