LeadHER: Find Your Voice and Help Others Find Theirs

Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk 

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It is not “good” voices or “bad” voices that I am listening for, but voices that come from somewhere near the heart and that do not seem afraid to be heard.”
- Barbara Brown Taylor

Gather Women exists to connect, equip and champion women of Canada so that they are empowered and encouraged to influence their world for Jesus Christ.

In order to be influencers, we need to find our voice – individually and collectively. As a movement, we unpack our mandate with a bit more clarity when we describe what we are doing when we gather women:

Creating spaces for connection, Biblical teaching and equipping
Championing a culture of support
Calling Forth a national voice for Canadian Christian women, coast to coast

What does our national, collective voice sound like?  How do we find it and claim it?

Voice is more than simply speaking; it engages the whole self - mind, body, spirit - your true self. Voice is a theological concept because utterance is directly connected to how God expressed God’s own self. God spoke, and in doing so God revealed God’s self.

Speech is revelation. Voice is intimately tied to theological revelation. In ministry, our speaking is not just our own but for the sake of God’s own expression. We speak, in part, for God, and God speaks through us. God counts on us to emit the words of God and the Word of God so that others might hear the promises of God in their own lives. Your voice and God’s voice intersect in your expression. You and I need to know what we believe, own what we believe, and speak what we believe with confidence. What do you believe about your inherent value as one created in God’s image, regardless of gender? What do you believe about your God-given gifts and their value in the Kingdom?

Voice is personal – what you say, how you say it, your vocabulary, accent, intonation, when you speak up and when you don’t - all reveal your identity and your character. To believe in your own voice, you have to believe in your identity and your own experience and believe that it deserves to be spoken out loud.

Believing in your voice means remembering who you are, which will demand an intentional reclaiming of your identity as a daughter of the Most High.

Do you know who you are and whose you are? Do you self-silence your voice because you place a higher value on the voices of others than you do your own?

Voice also shapes how you do ministry and influence those around you. Who in your world do you sense wants to speak but has never been invited or allowed to speak? How can you help them articulate their theology, opinions and faith story? Because of who you are and all you are called to be which has yet to unfold (a woman in ministry, a woman in leadership in the church, or elsewhere, a woman with influence), women, and even men, will come to you for help to find their voice.

When you are able to utter your truth, you automatically invite others to imagine the same. You invite them to envisage what is possible for them.

There are voices in this nation that have been unheard for too long. Voices of women who have let others determine their value and diminished their worth. 

I know that it's a big audacious goal to claim that we as a national movement can call forth a national voice. But that remains our goal. The national voice can only rise when each woman decides that she will no longer be afraid to be heard. Sometimes the fear comes from a theological assumption, a challenging context, or, most often, a lack of confidence. 

We want to keep affirming over and over again that every voice matters in this nation. Every woman matters in this nation. We desire to reflect a generationally, denominationally, geographically and culturally diverse yet unified voice.

Your voice matters to us. But you have to find it – and with encouragement, as we invite the voices of women into greater expression and presence, we want you to share it with us.

Don’t be afraid to be heard. Speak your truth. The words of Jeremiah ring in my ears daily when I shrink back from using my voice to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, or fail to speak on behalf of the voiceless:

“Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said,“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!”  (Jeremiah 1:9)

Find your voice and help others find theirs. It matters to you, to those who need you to speak for them, and to God, who has given you your voice to share His gospel. 


RelateHER: Fighting Back Tears

Written By: Bonnie Pue

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We often associate tears with weakness. We don’t cry when we feel confident. We don’t cry when we feel exhilarated. We don’t even cry when we feel angry at injustice.

We cry when we feel weak. We cry when we feel powerless. We cry when we feel surprised. We cry when we feel vulnerable.

And something in us hates that. We learned when we were young that if we expressed our sadness freely, we could be an easy target for mockery. Our tears would be like a siren blaring, demanding unwanted attention, so, we learned to fight back tears.

I’ve spoken with so many women who boast, “I don’t know the last time I cried.” They speak of the methods they use to contain their emotions. Biting the inside of their mouth. Pinching underneath their thighs. Distracting themselves with Netflix. Anything to get their minds off of the inner turmoil.

Because tears are a sign of weakness.

But, what if we are weak?

What if, after all these years of screaming about the strengths of women, we’ve forgotten to allow women to also have moments to express their weakness?

Weakness is not the same thing as sin. Weakness is about recognizing the finite nature of humanity and the needs we all have. We have need of grace-filled relationships, rest, beauty, purpose, and physical sustenance. Can we admit to the things that God already knows about us? Weakness is about recognizing that we are not the Eternal One.

Psalms 103:13-15 says :

“Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

The Bible also speaks about how the Lord completely validates our sadness; why do we refuse to do the same? Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.”

Now, certainly we must hold this truth in tension with the fact that God calls us to be brave, bold women who WIN. We can handle far more than we think possible and we cannot let fear reduce us. Psychologically, to cry is to open our hands and release the situation. It is to admit our frustration about that which we cannot change, and in doing so, we find that our mind is refreshed. In this humility of soul, we find the hope to rise again and the strength to face what has caused us despair.

We are determined to continue on in the journey of obedience, but we need to know that on that road, the Lord welcomes us to release the sorrows, frustrations and disappointments. He considers it worship when we present our hearts to Him.

We must learn to not fight the tears.


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RelateHER: Comparison Kills

Written By: Brenda Drost

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Comparison kills.  Comparison is a stealth thief and a ruthless killer. It sneaks up on us at the most unsuspecting times and robs us of our personal peace, our daily joy, and sometimes even our hopes and dreams.

We’ve all been there... we lay our head on the pillow at night and scroll through Instagram to see what our friends were up to today, and then boom. There it is. The perfect body, the beautiful selfie, the job promotion, the luxurious vacation, the engagement announcement... that thing you wish was yours. In an instant, an otherwise peaceful day ends with the bitter pangs of comparison.

Comparison brings along with it the shame and disappointment of a life we long for but will never live. It whispers to us that we are not enough, that there is something wrong or broken about us that will never be made right. It keeps us in a place of wounded defeat, and pounces every time we attempt to stretch ourselves and experience something beyond our comfort zone.

Even worse, comparison threatens to keep us from living out our hopes and dreams by convincing us that we don’t have what it takes to achieve it. But if God has put a dream in your heart, it’s for a specific purpose that he wants to fulfill in your life. If God has given you a dream it’s because you have everything it will take to achieve it and more. If God has given you a dream it’s because he is willing to equip and empower you to carry it through to completion.

All too often we allow the voice of comparison to rob us of new opportunities, promotions or connections that would move us towards our dreams because we are trapped by the negative narrative of fear, doubt and insecurity.

Comparison also longs to keep us isolated and incapable of working together effectively with other women. We need to dig down deep and expose the lies of comparison in our lives in order to move past the rhetoric in our own heads and move into the plans and purposes of God.

When it comes to chasing our God-sized dreams, there are three very specific ways that comparison can quickly get us off track.

Natural talent and ability. We look at other women who are more naturally gifted or talented than we are and we instinctively shy away from the opportunity to shine because we believe we are not as good as someone else. There will always be someone who is better at your craft but God isn’t interested in pure talent alone, but in those who are humble enough to learn and grow.

Resources. Sometimes we look at the resources others have and believe that because we don’t have the same amount of money, time or connections that we won’t be able to accomplish similar goals. We forget that our God has unlimited resources and he is capable of bringing the right things at the right time in order to encourage you and help you to walk step by step into your dream. But often we won’t see everything we need before we start, because the journey requires faith.

Experience. Life teaches us some of the greatest lessons and equips us to walk in the purposes God has called us to individually. We can never compare our journey to someone else’s when attempting to live out our God dreams. Your past does not need to limit your future.

Each one of us is unique in how we are wired to serve God and the very things that make you unique are of the greatest value to God. He can use you just as you are and right where you are to reach people who need to hear your story. You don’t need to be more or do more, you need only be open and willing to every opportunity that comes your way in humility and faith.

Galatians 5:26 MSG:

We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

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