My journey to becoming a college graduate and Grace Christian University alumni was one with many twists and turns. I enrolled straight out of high school as a traditional student at another university. I was pursuing my “inside the box” plan for my life: getting a degree in elementary education. It seemed like a safe and predictable path to be on and in many ways, it was a path I was expected to be on. My parents, my grandparents, and several aunts and uncles were all in education. However, by the end of my second year of school I knew that I had no desire to be a teacher.
For the first time in my life I had no plan, and I began to flounder. I changed majors a few times and tried on different possibilities for myself, but none of them seemed to be the right fit. So instead of pushing my way forward I pulled back. I withdrew from school and tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. In that season, I got married, started a family, and began to focus more on the life that we were building in the present instead of focusing so much on the unknown future ahead of me.
Then the unthinkable happened. My marriage of seven years fell apart and I found myself a single mom of three small children. It was the first time that I think I ever asked God what His plan was for my life and my future rather than simply trying to figure it out on my own. His answer shocked me… full-time ministry.
I tried to offer God a long list of excuses that I was not qualified for ministry: my marriage had failed, my future was uncertain, I did not have a degree. Yet He whispered to my heart: I do not call the qualified – I qualify the called. After a lengthy tug-of-war with God I stepped out and answered His call to ministry by founding a national women’s ministry called LeadHer in 2011. This organization is focused on challenging women to grow in their faith, leadership, and influence through participation in our LeadHer Local chapters.
LeadHer began to grow as more and more local chapters were started. I could quickly see that God had a bigger vision for this ministry than I did. I felt one of the things that I needed to do was to go back to school and finish my degree and get more focused training to equip me for the task of organizational leadership. I went looking for a program that would challenge me, prepare me, and work with my already busy schedule. When I found Grace’s online program it was a great fit.
The content and material was challenging but the format allowed me to dig in deeply without getting overwhelmed by adding school on top of my continuing ministry work. Throughout the program, I connected with numerous teachers and students who shared my passion for the church and for the work that I was called to. They encouraged and supported me both inside and outside of the classroom. There is no doubt that my classes at Grace prepared me both practically and theologically for the tasks of full-time ministry and leading an ever-expanding organization.
Since graduation, LeadHer has continued to grow and expand. We currently have 27 local chapters from coast to coast in the United States, a number that grows each quarter as we train new LeadHer Coordinators to start chapters in their communities. In addition to our growth in the United States, we have also recently launched an international program that now enables us to train and support LeadHer Local Chapters in other countries. Since the start of 2016, we have launched chapters in both Canada and India. If you are interested in learning more about LeadHer, how to connect with or start a Local Chapter in your area- I invite you to visit us online at www.leadher.org.
I am grateful for the wisdom and experience that Grace’s online program helped me gain. I believe that it has made me a better leader and LeadHer a stronger organization as a result.