Monday, April 7, 2014
An interview with Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder
Co-authors of Real Women Leading: With Proverbs 31 Values
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: Most likely, all of our listeners are familiar with the Proverbs 31 woman, but for those who may not be, who is this woman, and why should women strive to be like her?
DY: The Proverbs 31 woman is referred to as “the virtuous woman.” She is the original woman who brought home the bacon and fried it in a pan. She is a role model — someone who uses all she has and does all she can with excellence and for the glory of God. She is honest, trustworthy and generous. She is a good steward, understands people, plans for the future and likes to put together a nice outfit.
LT: She’s a wise woman, using what is “in her hand” to influence and enhance the lives of those in her circle. She realizes she doesn’t have to “do it all” to be effective. She knows how to evaluate, invest, encourage and ultimately bring out the best in those around her.
Q: Many women aspire to be like the Proverbs 31 woman but feel that achieving every one of her characteristics is a daunting challenge, if not an impossible goal. What encouragement do you have for women aspiring to be like her?
LT: Seek God to understand how He’s designed and gifted you with spiritual gifts and natural talents and learn how to delegate well and embrace responsibility. So often we allow fear to keep us from maximizing what we already possess. Perfectionism will ultimately steal our joy and opportunity. Prepare and pray; often our level of preparedness indicates how much trust we place in God to reveal next steps.
DY: A friend of mine always says, “Better is possible.” That statement is not designed to bring pressure. It is designed to bring hope. I think the Proverbs 31 chapter holds a lot of hope and possibility. It shows women that there are a lot of things we can be and do, and they all fall under the umbrella of what God intended for us.
Q: Most associate the Proverbs 31 woman as a godly wife who tends to her home, but you write about her entrepreneurial spirit. What have we been missing when reading this passage from scripture?
LT: For a vast number of women in the United States, the Bible-belt environment has been one of primary homemaking from our culture’s perspective. The more believers travel internationally, it’s easier to understand the totality of this woman’s influence. Our white picket-fence environments are the exception, not the norm, throughout the world. Women in other countries are often going to the market to sell what they’ve grown or created. There’s also a generational involvement in small enterprise that is not modeled in the same way as often in the US. Industrialization here has
influenced the labor structure in such a way that there’s been a distinct separation between working women and staying at home. With the advent of our economic changes in the US, enterprising women have had to look outside their mother’s model to make ends meet. We’re from Amish country, and there are many roadside stands with baked goods and produce. These ladies are using what’s in their hand — resources and talents — to augment the well-being of family
DY: I guess we let our culture define how we read the scripture. Honestly, it amazes me that I missed it the first time I read it and heard teaching on that chapter. I feel as though I related to what I saw and heard in the church and somehow just overlooked the rest of the details. It is so clearly outlined in the chapter that this woman was selling goods, buying fields and managing people along with the other more-traditional homemaking aspects.
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: 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: As you coach other women on the value of leading others based on biblical principles, is it difficult to “convince” some of your audience there are practical ways to implement scriptural wisdom?
DY: I don’t feel like we do a lot of convincing or persuading. I think the Holy Spirit carries most of that load. I think God has been gracious to reveal some things to us and to give us a method of practical application, and it is our good pleasure to get to share some of these things with others. The really wonderful part of this is that often when we share what God has shown us, He reveals other things to those we are coaching, and we get to learn even more about Him, how He works and how He loves us.
LT: Because we are such an information-based society, we hear a lot of self-help techniques. While there’s great value and opportunity for personal growth in our own knowledge, applied truth is what transforms us. Unfortunately, many believers have a vast amount of head knowledge but have a difficult time living it out day to day. When we live and walk in the example of Jesus, we will see Him impacting society by building healthy relationships with defined boundaries, not prejudiced or ill-conceived selfish ambition or vain conceit. Understanding people, forgiveness and responsibility are all Jesus traits — His style of living and leading. We can live this out without quoting chapter and verse. That’s why the “IT Factor” applications in the book are a good tool for bringing feet to biblical values
Q: You open the book in chapter one by outlining the value of understanding people. In a culture where face-to-face communication is fading due to the rise in social media, do you believe all other values stem from this principle?
LT: Speaking so people hear what you mean is central to leading well, especially as we lead the millennial generation. Engaging them in the conversation is essential. The model of “I talk and you listen” does not connect with them. Because of the constant availability of sharing their voice via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we need to invite them to express their thoughts. The Roundtable and IT Factor applications from the book facilitate the opportunity for them to engage. It also teaches the older generations to relate rather than to lecture.
DY: I do not think the value of understanding people is the most important one or the foundation of the other values but I do think it is vital. Jesus gave us two commandments: to love God and to love others. Understanding people makes it a lot easier to follow that second commandment and is critical in building healthy relationships.
Q: What is the “IT Factor” you have mentioned and refer to at the end of each chapter?
LT: IT is short for “igniting transformation.” At the end of each chapter, we focus on a transformational value and walk through the process of the who, what, where, why and how of its application.
DY: The “IT Factor” gives a summary of the value. It provides scriptural references, explains the benefits of implementing it in your life, shows what it looks like in action and gives you some practical steps to follow. It culminates with asking the reader to form a small, measurable action step so they can experience immediate growth in their life. Our friend Dr. John Maxwell says 90 percent of the people do not know how to apply what they have read. This part of the book gives you ready-made application to ensure you get the most out of it.
Q: Can you tell us about your involvement with the Circle of Friends organization?
LT: Since reading Experiencing God in the late 90s, God sparked the vision for giving women a place to belong in a circle of friends by taking that Bible-study mentality to the next step of transformational growth and relationships through acceptance, authenticity, affirmation, accountability and action. I started the organization and invited Dawn to become part of the leadership team. Through Bible studies, roundtables, radio, writing, coaching and community events, we attempt to show the women in the body of Christ that we are more alike than we are different. Building unity among the daughters of the King has been a fulfilling, challenging and amazing journey.
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 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.
Interview hosted by Audra Jennings of Litfuse