Equipping Women Leaders

anita-carman-2She led a corporate career at companies like Booz and Exxon. She even taught in Beth Moore’s Sunday School class. Now, Anita Carman is the Founder and President of Inspire Women, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that inspires women across ethnicities, denominations, and economic levels to connect their lives to God’s purpose with year round programs to develop leaders for missions and ministry.

We spoke with Anita a few weeks ago to hear her vision for the organizations. Here’s what she told us.

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4word: You mentioned to Diane that you have seen working women surface as a group among Christian women. What struggles have they shared with you?

Anita: Working women have shared how their churches are unfamiliar with including working women, especially those who are professionals or executives. As a result, they have trouble finding a place to serve. They get sent to the nursery or to serve in the cafeteria lines, but they are seldom asked to use their business or financial skills.

One executive said she dropped out of church because she couldn't fit in. She was asked to help make a craft piece that the women were selling for $3.50 to raise money for missions. She said, "I make $1500 an hour. I'd rather just write the check. But then it offends people if I offer to write the check, so I just walk around feeling like I don't fit in anywhere."

4word: Do you, as a working woman yourself, share any of those same struggles? In what area do you think working women need the most guidance?

Anita: Although I have found greater freedom to express my opinions in my MBA class and working in corporate America, some of the younger leaders welcome innovation and any input that will help solve the problem. I try to stay away from those who are intimidated by women executives.

4word: I notice that Inspire Women also has a Leadership Institute. Why is it important that women step forward as leaders in the working world, in their relationships and in the church?

Anita: Women have great potential to shape ministries. They can implement programs out of their compassion and discernment as to what needs to be done. The biggest obstacle a woman needs to overcome is herself. I find we are often stuck in our own emotions of loneliness, rejection and fear.

Our Leadership Institute (which will soon be offered online) helps women to transform their emotions to finish God's purpose. We try to teach women what we call the royal family code of behavior. As a member of God's family He has an expected code of behavior for His children. When we act accordingly, we affirm our identity as the King's daughter, and we respond in a way fitting for a member of God's family. We want women to have the confidence to respond to life and make decisions in a way that honors God.

4word: What are some of the obstacles to being leaders that women face?

Anita: I think many women grow up trying to please those around them. It's like we were raised to please. So instead of having the confidence to be who God called us to be, we try to be what everyone tells us to be. This pattern of responding to life is contrary to how God calls us out and sets us apart to serve His mission.

At some point a woman needs to recognize that she does not only exist to be a caretaker. Life is not just about the kids or the spouse or the aging parents. Instead, God gave her unique gifts and sees her as worthy to help fulfill His dreams for the world.

Sadly, a woman's dreams are often the last to be funded. When discretionary income is low, most women give up their needs to meet the needs of those in the family. That's why our ministry feels strongly about funding God's dreams through women. We fund scholarships and ministry grants to empower every woman to serve at her potential.

4word: How do you hope to help women overcome those obstacles through Inspire Women and Leadership Institute?

Anita: At Inspire Women's Leadership Institute, we hope to help women see that we are daughters of the King. God sees us as an equal heir and trusts us with His mission. He put us on earth with unique gifts and resources so we can be His servants of mercy to bring healing to the pain in the world. Once a woman understands that she is part of a royal family tree, she expects more from herself, and her world expands. She begins to view life differently. She begins to appreciate the power God has given her to change the world in His name.

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Do you feel like you have the potential to be leader in your workplace, in your relationships or at your church? If not, what’s blocking you?

If you’d like to hear more from Anita, we encourage you to visit inspirewomen.org, find them at facebook.com/inspirewomen, or follow them on Twitter at @inspirewomen.