Why now is the time to start: get ready to rise

Jo Saxton and I met years ago at a conference. Her smile and beautiful English accent draw you in immediately. But more than that, you are drawn to her passion. Passion for Jesus and passionate about women and encouraging them to step into their God given roles. Through her stories in and those of others, Jo leads a powerful call for women to step into their true potential, own their voice, and boldly advance God’s goodness in the world. It’s a grace to welcome Jo to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Jo Saxton

“It’s a broken world. I want to help fix it. I want to lead the people who want to help fix it.”

The school auditorium rippled with excitement. It was award night for the seventh graders.

On the stage, more than a hundred honors students waited, familiar faces unfamiliarly dressed. In turns, they mocked and admired one another’s outfits, chatting animatedly in an attempt to subdue their nerves and self-consciousness.

Across from the stage, the room was filled with their loved ones until it was standing room only.

Proud parents, even prouder grandparents, and loved ones posed and positioned cameras and cell phones, while others greeted one another, celebrating their children’s achievements or confirming car-pool arrangements and sports schedules.

Younger siblings were being distracted by snacks or toys or the occasional tablet. The older ones entertained themselves with their own electronic devices, or they caught up with peers who’d also been brought along.

Meanwhile, the teaching staff milled around the auditorium, patiently trying to conduct sound checks on microphones and speakers that seemed to delight in jolting the audience with sudden and intrusively loud feedback.

But then the principal took hold of a mic and cleared his throat to indicate the event was about to begin, and a hush fell over the room.

There were murmurs of surprise when the young woman’s name was announced, because she hadn’t told any of her friends that she was one of the two students selected to give a speech.

Clutching her note cards, she made her way up to the podium and adjusted the microphone, perhaps because she felt it was the right thing to do.

She looked up and saw the number of people in the room and the anticipation on their faces. Spotting her parents, she exchanged a flickering glance with them and then determinedly looked down at her notes.

She began speaking.

First, she thanked the families, parents, and teachers for both their presence and their contribution to her class’s achievements. “This night belongs to you all,” she said.

Then she spoke about her school journey—how she’d been shaped by experiences both positive and painful. She described the influence of teachers and friends who’d believed in her and encouraged her, thanking them for her growth.

When she began speaking about harder times, she shared how difficult it had been to fill in a school survey that asked her to identify her ethnicity but didn’t permit her to check more than one box.

There just wasn’t an option that reflected her biracial identity.

“I wondered why there wasn’t a box for me,” she said.

In fact, she’d called her mom in tears that day. “It’s like I don’t exist,” she’d said, weeping.

Somehow, it was in this touch of vulnerability that her confidence seemed to grow.

It was obvious the crowd was really warming to her, and she looked directly at the people in front of her.

She indicated that she’d overcome her challenges by drawing strength from how her family had previously dealt with racially motivated incidents.

She said that as she dreamed of the future, she didn’t expect an easy or straight-forward journey to achievement, but she wouldn’t be deterred either.

“It’s a broken world. I want to help fix it. I want to lead the people who want to help fix it.”

After commending her peers and thanking parents and teachers again, she ended her speech to rapturous applause. There were many tear-stained but smiling faces in the audience.

She skipped back to her seat and to the company of her friends, took a deep breath, and smiled at me.

I didn’t cry, but I was deeply moved.

When she had used her seventh-grade mind and heart to speak truth to power, it wasn’t just her confidence that had struck me, nor was it the tender vulnerability as she shared her story.

Instead, it was the calm assumption with which she declared that she, that we, could play a role in changing a broken world.

She simply believed that she, with everyone around her, had a contribution to make.

I leaned back into my chair, returned my daughter’s smile, and thought, That’s my girl.

*****

I reflected on my daughter’s speech—her moment—for months.

The lens through which she saw the world and the resolve to do something about it reminded me of a time years before:

Her younger sister (aged five at the time) called a family meeting to announce what she wanted to be when she grew up.

She told us she would be running for president and her agenda would involve taking care of the environment and protecting marine life. (She has since moved on to other career choices.)

Naturally, I love the budding ideas and dreams and passions my kids—two daughters—have, particularly as they develop and mature and learn more about the world around them.

But while their enthusiasm—and their innocence—moves me, I am inspired by the liberated audacity of their assumption that they have something to offer, that they have a contribution to make in those places in the world that they believe are broken.

*****

If there was ever a time to uncover our potential and voices—it’s now.

Now is the time to boldly and authentically represent God’s goodness in the world, living as channels for His transformative change and power.

Now is the time to rise.

And we need people who will voice new dreams—new culture-shaping, community-healing, justice-and-mercy-living, potential-realizing, life-giving, God-inspired dreams.

People who would be willing to play their parts and lead the way.

We need to create new ways of being, of living and doing.

We’re making our own chapter of history, and the world needs your faith-fueled voice, gifts, and skills.

It needs you to step into your God-given influence and make a positive impact.

Friends, let’s get ready to rise!

 

After reading Jo’s book, I am ready to rise more than ever! Jo Saxton is an author, speaker, podcast host, and leadership coach. She has dedicated her career to growing leadership teams around the world and empowering women to find their purpose in their personal lives and in leadership.

Born in London to parents who immigrated from Nigeria, Jo credits her family’s unrelenting work ethic and the grace of God for the bold, tenacious approach she takes to sharing her wisdom on identity, influence, and living an authentic life. She is characterized by her effervescent honesty and warm approachability, leaving audiences with practical next steps in areas that are usually a bit ambiguous.

After founding an initiative supporting women who lead, Jo now coaches female leaders around the world through her online leadership development program, Jo Saxton Leadership Coaching, and advises organizations on how to develop and support women in leadership.

A powerful call to step into your full potential that biblically affirms the need for women to rise up and work together to make a better world. Ready to Rise tackles the real-life issues—from harassment and sexism to self-doubt and loneliness—that can discourage and derail women from leading in the areas God has called them to. With insights from her own journey and powerful biblical examples, Jo offers practical advice to empower and equip women to transform their communities.

If you’ve ever longed to uncover your true potential, own your voice, and boldly advance God’s goodness in the world, now is the time to start. Get ready to rise!

[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]