By Dr. Melody Stevens, founder of Fit + Faith
What makes a strong woman? What makes a respected leader? What qualities does she possess that cause others to follow and look up to her?
Physical qualities are easy to define, but it’s her inner strength that means even more in the eyes of God; and it is not skin-deep. Her strength has been cultivated, developed, refined in the fire of life’s trials and tribulations. Her strength radiates from her heart, giving her a quiet resolve--a holy power.
You’ve met this woman. You’ve passed her in the grocery aisle, smiled to her at church, even waved hello at the dry cleaners or the daycare center. But did you know who she was? Did you realize how close you were to this formidable woman of God? This power-house of faith? Her name is not on billboards; it’s not heard on the radio or touted on TV. She’s not a best selling author or a self-made millionaire. She is your neighbor, next door. The woman you pass on the street. She is the diligent servant giving of her time and talents to God’s purposes and calling in her life.
Step inside her world and you’ll realize we’re not so different after all. Realize we too have similar qualities that we already possess. We realize her quiet strength is also our own. And - as we surrender our will to that of an Almighty God, we realize we grow stronger still. We’re not subservient or weak when submitting to God’s plan. We’re all the more capable, bold and courageous as God fills the gaps of our weaknesses and empowers us to live out His will in our daily lives. We grow stronger each day, from the inside-out, as we put God first and accept the role of the humble and faithful servant.
The secret to her strength (and why she is revered by all who know her) is simply due to her embodiment of the traits that God desires each of us to portray. Look in the Bible and you’ll find examples of strong and powerful women leaders throughout its pages. For a clear-cut description of these qualities that the Bible says make a strong and powerful woman leader, tap/click to read all of Proverbs 31 now. [Look for passages from Proverbs 31 referenced throughout this article.] It says she is:
- To be of noble character
As we begin to build these characteristics into our own lives we realize we too become stronger and more respected, being favored and revered by others. Becoming more attractive goes beyond our physical strength and appearance. We’re attractive when we’re magnetic, electric and making all who come near us feel safe, loved and accepted. We embody the beautiful strength of God.
“She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” What does that mean for us? We are no longer fearful or afraid of what the future holds. We know God holds our future and this allows us to live boldly and unashamed to be ourselves.
STRONGER TRAITS FOR STRONGER LEADERS
What would it look like to incorporate these traits into your own personal routines for both practical health and fitness applications, as well as for your spiritual wellbeing?
To be of noble character--Noble: ”An exalted moral or mental character or excellence.” Choosing to stay true to your morals in the face of compromise and display excellence in all you do portrays a noble character. Being true to your integrity, even when no one is looking, and giving 110% with your endeavors and efforts will grow your character and your inner strength. When you’re at the gym and it’s easy to slack off or cut out early or only be half-hearted in your workout, but you don’t. You go all in. You commit yourself fully and whole-heartedly while you’re there. Your reward is faster results and deeper personal gain and sense of accomplishment.
Resourceful--When life gets hectic and you don’t have time to go on your typical run or hit the gym as you planned. Yet you make a way. You do squats in the kitchen while dinner’s in the oven. You do lunges while you’re brushing your teeth. You play with your kids and become a human jungle gym to work your core. You do bicep curls while you’re bringing in the groceries. You do overhead presses with the 5 pound gallon of milk before you put it away. You see opportunities and resources all around you because you’re committed to your health and your body, and not being able to go to the gym is not going to stop your resolve to get results!
Diligent--The clock is ticking away, yet the kids still have homework to complete and projects to finish before school tomorrow. But you still need your time to keep your sanity and rest. You know that God is the Ultimate Restorer of your body and soul so before your head hits the pillow you still take your time for reading your Bible. You ask Him to rejuvenate your body and mind while you sleep, knowing that He will give you the strength to face another day with grace and perseverance for the race He’s called you to run.
Careful/Calculated--Achievement of any goal or task does not come by happenstance or “luck.” You are wise and meticulous when you plan meals for your family, carefully considering your budget and time for that week. You use different methods of keeping yourself accountable and on track for your fitness goals. Perhaps a FitBit or various apps on your phone to help you count calories, monitor your exercise and track your progress as you achieve your goal weight.
Sincere--It’s easy to give haphazard answers in the busyness of the day. “How are you?” “Fine.” “I’m good.” “No problems here.” But wait...are you? Were you honest and sincere? Of course you don’t need to divulge every gut-wrenching detail, but were you honest in the simplest of questions? “I’m having a super hectic day, but there’s a lot of fun stuff going on with me and the family. How are you?”
Dignified--Displaying grace under fire. You’re cut off in traffic or the checkout line or the equipment at the gym you were using was taken over by someone else even though you still had your water bottle and towel next to it. What are the immediate thoughts that go through your head? Do you jump to judgment and condescension under your breath, or do you realize that these aren’t battles worth fighting and they’re not going to “make or break” your day... [In fact it could be your next God-given opportunity to interact with someone and lead that person closer to Christ.]
Faithful--”She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” This Bible verse is not talking about faithfulness in the sense of being faithful to your spouse. Here we’re talking about not quitting in the task at hand. Staying committed and true to the end. Seeing your projects and results through to completion. How are you at completing tasks after you begin them? Are you faithful to the end?
Paul’s words in the Bible remind us that God is faithful to us to the very end: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” How can you return the favor in the little daily opportunities that come up to show your faithfulness and commitment?
Giving/Generous--It’s easy to check this box “Yes” or “No” depending on if you tithe, or give to charities, or put your change in the offering plate on Sundays. But true generosity is so much more. “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
Are you generous with your time, your energy, your non-monetary resources? Do you have valued possessions that you allow others to use and benefit from? When you upgrade something do you give away the old version? Whether that’s clothes, gear, electronics, furniture etc. Generosity and giving come in so many more forms than money. How many ways can you count that you’re actively giving in one form or another?
Respectful--Aretha Franklin’s classic song rings in my head when I see the word R-E-S-P-E-C-T. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
Being respected does not come without merit. Respect is to be earned, it takes time and consistency to build. But once it’s gained it can be one of the most powerful traits of all. To be respected and held in high esteem is one of life’s greatest achievements. Are your daily actions consistent and of high enough quality and caliber to begin earning the respect of others? Your family, friends and elders? It starts with integrity in the smallest of your daily actions and snowballs into reverence and reward that money cannot buy or earn.
STRONGER WOMEN ARE LEADERS
In life, work and play you can be a leader. Stronger women are courageous. Stronger women are bold in their faith. Stronger women are resourceful, faithful and dignified. Stronger women are diligent, steadfast and generous.
Stronger women are God’s handiwork--God’s divine plan. God’s beauty displayed in a million incomparable shapes and sizes.
You are the embodiment of God’s perfect design ---YOU are a strong and beautiful leader.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FROM DR. MELODY STEVENS FOUNDER OF FIT + FAITH
This article, STRONGER Women Are Leaders, appears in the June/July 2016 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine. Want to be a stronger woman in leadership within the fitness business? Plan to attend Faith & Fitness Magazine's Redefined Conference.