Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Woman Across the Table: Where Service Isn't Fame

In less than two weeks, I'm going to be at Influence Conference. I'm so excited! There are several people I know online that I can't wait to meet in person (Why was that so much creepier 10 years ago?) and some of my favorite internet people will be speaking. My husband always laughs when I mention something that one of my favorite internet people wrote. But really, that's a thing; you have favorite internet people too. Yes? Yes. 

The internet makes the world so small. 2015 is amazing. We have companies helping people around the world, women encouraging women from their living rooms, and access to all the learning and education we could want. It's also easy to find the women who have a gift for speaking truth or sharing their lives online. 

As much as I might love their work or their art or their whatever-it-is-that-they-do they are still only internet people. I don't know them- at least no more than what they choose to reveal about themselves. They don't know me. They aren't going to come alongside me when my child is ill or teach me new skills that I can use to serve God. 

They are just one or two or three people. Do you know how many women there are in the U.S.? 158.6 million in 2009. Can ten, twenty, or even fifty "famous" online women, no matter how gifted or intelligent they are, really know and help all those women? 

Of course not. Jess Connolly wrote a beautiful piece about having to choose to create or respond. All of us only have so much time and so many resources. 

It's always in human nature to be drawn to the big names. We want to know the leader, to sit at the cool kids table, to feel validated by being accepted by the "famous." And there's value in surrounding yourself with the right kind of people. Jeff Goins has talked about it in a podcast about Hemingway and his own move to Nashville. But sometimes it's just a search for validation. "If I know the popular kids then I'm accepted." We're not that far above elementary school lunchroom behavior after all.  Why not make our own table?

We all know women who love God and are serving Him. They have just as much to offer even if they aren't well-known or don't have a huge online following or haven't written a book. We know women who are digging into the Word and loving their neighbor well. We know women who serve their families and strengthen their husbands and train their children in righteousness. We know women who dedicate time to pursuing skills and passions so that they can use them for God. 

Make a table with those ladies. Invite them in. Get to know them- learn from them and help them. Maybe even face-to-face and not just on Twitter (although Twitter is really growing on me). This may be your grandma who makes cookies every week for the neighborhood kids. Or it might be the lady who volunteers at the shelter, works in the church nursery, or teaches teens English. You may be surprised how often you find these people who have so much to teach you right in your life. 

Stop waiting to be recognized. We cannot all be the popular people and we don't need to be. Forge a path where you are. You don't have to be known by the big names to be accepted or valuable (although, let's be real, your message might reach more people that way). That confident walk where Christ has called you will speak for itself no matter where you are. 

Stop waiting for the known names to do all the work. There are people that only you can reach. You at home with your little kids still impact others. You caring for your aging parent, working two jobs to support your family, or struggling in your season of life will still meet women who need the help you can give. We can't leave the work to the missionaries, our pastors, or the ones who have authored books. They can't do it all. 

We can each do our part though. If we all served up the influence we have where we are- pointing others to Jesus- we might be surprised at what we can do throughout our lifetime. One day at a time, one person at a time. 

Now when I go to Influence Conference am I going to introduce myself to my favorite internet people? You betcha. I'll probably even try to take a selfie (or if I get lucky, someone else will take the picture). But I'm going to spend most of my time getting to know the women sitting at the table across from me who are doing extraordinary things with their ordinary lives. 

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