Cultivating Friendships & Female Allies

Listen to the nightly news, read just-released statistics, talk to a few friends––and you’ll hear over and over again the hard realities of mandated isolation, increased challenges in daily life, and mounting obstacles as working women navigate the lingering effects of this pandemic. Now more than ever we need to forge bonds of sisterhood with the women in our circles.

Since our experiences and daily circumstances differ, no one-size-fits-all remedy will immediately bring forth a new community of supportive, understanding, and encouraging women. However, there are a few DO’s and DON’T’s we can all practice to cultivate authentic friendships and genuine female allies––both at work and in our everyday world at large. Let’s start with the DON’T’s:

Don’t Compare. Comparing ourselves to others destroys happiness and joy. Our world and social feeds are full of poster girls we wish we could be. Women who sparkle and glow. Gals who are smarter, wealthier, more beautiful, more fun. Social magnets who appear to have everything. Girls we know who tout what we desire most. Comparing ourselves to others ignites the fire of envy and jealousy. Comparison kills friendships and allies. Comparison prevents authenticity and hinders our ability to develop relationships without agenda. Comparison opens a trap with sharp teeth of discontent, disparaging gossip, and isolation.

Don’t Compete. Many workplaces breed no-mercy, unhealthy competition. And women moving up the ranks often find themselves thrown into an arena where success requires aggression and no-holds-barred tactics. Without warning, the road between “excellence for the glory of God” and “self-ambition for our own glory” morphs into quicksand and we can start sinking quickly. Friends, regardless of what kind of work we do each day, we’re called to work as if Jesus is our CEO and we report to him day-by-day (Col 2:17, 23). I’m not saying that all competition is bad––as an athlete and someone who sprinted up the corporate ladder decades ago, I believe certain types of competition can be healthy and good. But unhealthy competition breeds anger, bitterness, and a desire to excel at the cost of others. Unhealthy competition is not to the glory of God.

Don’t Condemn. Let’s face it, some people wear us down. Others drag us down. When we’re trying to move fast and pivot quickly, it’s hard to feel like we can’t get ahead because of excess weight we carry for others. Especially at work. It’s easy to begin making assumptions about why people say or do certain things. Storylines creep in and frustration mounts. But rarely do we understand the underlying hurts and backstory of co-workers and even friends. We haven’t walked in their shoes. And their struggles and reactions may be symptomatic of pain and hardship we know nothing about. So when a spirit of condemnation takes root in our heart, it’s time to hit pause and remember Jesus’ words on judging others. With the condemning measure we use to judge others, we too will be condemned and judged (Matt 7:1–5). Conversely, with the forgiveness we share freely with others, we too will be forgiven (Matt 6:12).

These three DON’T’s––Don’t Compare, Don’t Compete, Don’t Condemn––all focus on our thoughts, actions, and reactions to others. Now let’s turn to relationship-building DO’s:

Do Care. At work, we may feel hesitant to get too close to co-workers we don’t know well. Especially if we’re concerned they may actively practice the three DON’T’s. But approaching women with a heart of care and prayer opens doors to deeper conversations. If we drop strategic agendas and instead truly desire to get to know someone––truly KNOW them for who they are, right where they are––our words, tone, and demeanor change. Through prayer (praying for them) and care (simple words or acts of kindness), the love of Christ shines in and through us to the people we work with on a regular basis. Prayer and care will change our heart, and it can often soften theirs, leading to new opportunities for building rapport, friendship, and common goals.

Do Extend Compassion. We don’t know what others have gone through in the past, or what they struggle with now. But the more we can learn about others as we lovingly get to know them, the more we can see what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Understanding often becomes a first step to extending compassion. Compassion isn’t pity. Compassion isn’t feeling sorry for someone. Compassion is rolling up our sleeves and entering with someone into their real life. Think for a moment about difficult times you’ve gone through in the past. Now think about the kind of friend you needed to walk through those hard spaces with you. Whether or not you had a good friend to help you then, you can be that kind of friend now to someone else. Being compassionate towards others means being the kind of friend you’re looking for (2 Cor 1:3–4).

Do Grow Community. God created us to live and flourish in community. Research affirms that our happiness increases when we feel seen, heard, and loved. Ladies, we’re meant to walk the journey of life together with women who’ve seen behind our masks and love us anyway. Promote authentic community by asking thoughtful questions and being willing to share about your life story. Find ways to creatively spend time getting to know new friends and women you work with. Share a meal, grab coffee, or plan a happy hour (in person preferably, but virtual if needed). Go for a walk together and burn off stress as you bond. As you begin your journey together, explore common interests. Tell funny or quirky stories. Deepen connections. And pray about how you might be able to grow a community of two or three women who can gather regularly to encourage and support one another. There’s nothing like knowing someone else is in your corner battling life’s challenges with you.  

As we move forward from this unprecedented season, I think of the words of God to Joshua (Josh 1:9, 10:25) and David to Solomon (1 Chron 22:13, 28:20) as these young men prepared for a new mission, unforeseen circumstances, and undoubted opposition: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.”

Receive these words today as you begin to cultivate friendships and female allies.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.”

Cultivating friendships and female allies takes time, and it requires risk. I know this firsthand. But I have also experienced the incredible rewards. Some of my dearest friends today are women I met decades ago through work. Sisters, be courageous in Christ within all of your circles of influence. We need one another. And God will pave the way as we:

Care, don’t compare.

Extend compassion, not competition.

Grow community, not condemnation.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).

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An Audience of One

Whether in person, online, or on social media, we spend a lot of time performing for other people. If we center our lives on pleasing others, living out each day gets harder and harder. It can feel impossible to create a new life script. Continue reading

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Daring to Hope in 2021

No one misses 2020: the ultimate year of loss for our generation. But as the chapter page turned to 2021, I wondered how I could muster up hope. So I decided to go back to the basics of spiritual renewal: creating and committing to a healthy rhythm of life. We all have different passions and interests, but the need for healthy rhythms remains universal. Continue reading

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The Last Mile of Life

Everyone faces life and death crossroads. And everyone’s experiences differ. This year in particular has impacted many of us as we or a loved one walk the last mile of life. Today my emotions remain raw while this season of incredible loss for me and my family wears on. I don’t have facts and figures to try to make sense of it all. Instead, I’d like to share a few thoughts from my heart. Continue reading

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Life in the Rearview Mirror

There’s nothing normal as we head toward the end of 2020. We long for “normal.” We want things to go back to the way they were in February 2020, or October 2019, because no matter how hard things were then, at least we understood our known normal. Continue reading

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Please, No More!

Like many of you, I thought this fall would usher in the return of normal work hours in offices and schools, eating in restaurants, and gathering with friends. But COVID-19. It feels like we’ve lost so much this year. How can we move forward into fall when we continue to grieve the loss of so many aspects of our used-to-be “normal” life? Continue reading

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A Message for Weary Souls

As this over-the-top-difficult year wears on and hopes for a summer reprieve or a maskless fall fade, my mind can struggle to muster up positivity. I’ve heard I’m not alone. Apparently many of us wrestle with the lack of normalcy, inability to plan a way forward, and uncertainty of how long “this” will last. Continue reading

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Sheroes of the Bible

The last two months unfolded like an archeological dig. Week after week, I joined a group of women to unlock stories of the past, dust off musty translations, and peer into golden lives of unlikely sheroes. Who are these sheroes? Women easily overlooked, discounted, and even scorned. Continue reading

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Robbed of My Right of Passage

In this Covid-19 time, there’s a group of celebrants who feels the loss of their special day more than others: Graduates. With no stage, no diploma in hand, and no procession, it’s hard to feel the same sense of accomplishment and closure. How do I know? I’m a 2020 graduate. Continue reading

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The Week After Easter

The Easter message––that Jesus came to set us free and give us new life––does not change. Even in the confines of a pandemic. No one could have foreseen the magnitude of coronavirus strife. Except Jesus. Jesus knew that days like these were coming. Continue reading

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Your Christmas Wish

Each year growing up, I made a list of things I wanted for Christmas. “A horse” always topped the list. I knew I had to be nice, not naughty. Looking back, that’s probably why I never got the horse. Anyhoo… Continue reading

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Running the Race of Life

As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us are gearing up for our favorite running day of the year. Even non-runners love the annual Turkey Trot which leads to a guilt-free feast. Whether or not you run, we’re all called to the race of life, and we all need encouragement along the way… Continue reading

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Waiting Out the Wait

We’re not good at waiting. We live in a culture of instant response and immediate gratification. “Right now” has become the norm and expectation. Unfortunately, at different times in life, we all have to wait. Continue reading

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What CAN I do?

We experience seasons of illness and injury that engulf us like a suffocating suffering. We want to hope for complete healing. What CAN I do? I’ve pondered the depth of this question. Continue reading

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Sometimes There Aren't Words

Sometimes there just aren’t words. But in those times there is Someone who speaks… Continue reading

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Welcome to My Messy

My life is messy. Of course, you wouldn’t know my life is messy just by looking at me. Most of us don’t want others to see our behind-the-scenes messy truth. And whether we recognize it or not, we live in a constant battle for self-worth, fighting against isolation. Continue reading

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Your Life through the Keyhole

How we view our life each day is like looking through the keyhole of a big old door. It’s as if we’re looking at ourselves, other people, and circumstances through a tiny window. Our vantage is severely limited. Continue reading

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How Not to Hate the Wait

In our world of one-click shopping and on-demand streaming, much of life no longer unfolds over time. We want what we want when we want it. We require instantaneous life. Unfortunately, God often asks us to wait. Continue reading

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Unanswered Prayers

When someone dies, we struggle with the “why”. Why didn’t God answer our prayers? As Easter approaches, the “why” questions of the disciples mirror our own. How can we continue to trust God? Continue reading

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Who Do You Say I Am?

Many of us know the greatest stories ever told. And often our focus is on the action or players or outcome. But the stories of the Bible have another purpose. A.W. Tozer said, “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” Continue reading

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Fear or Faith at Work?

It’s no fun living like a double agent with different personas at work v. home. How do we overcome fear of living out our faith at work? Do we have to talk about Jesus in order to be a witness at work? Here are 3 critical truths. Continue reading

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Why Work?

The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why” (Mark Twain). If we’re honest, we all want to know the why… Continue reading

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Greatest Gift: A Partridge in a Pear Tree

What’s your favorite Christmas carol? One of my all-time favorites is the “12 Days of Christmas” as sung by John Denver and the Muppets. Corny, maybe. But then I found out the meaning behind the words… Continue reading

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No More Masks

Masks. We all wear them. We’re afraid to let people see and know the real us. We hide behind our masks and often fake it. But freedom comes when we live out our truth. Continue reading

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What's Your Superpower?

If you were approached by a genie wanting to grant you one wish for any superhero power, what would you ask for? My first thought: ask for something I could use in the battle between good and evil… Continue reading

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Work in Heaven?

As Labor Day approaches, most Americans anticipate a well-deserved day off work. For many of us, work is a daily grind. But what if work isn’t supposed to be a grind? And what if our work doesn’t end with our time on earth? Have you ever thought about work in heaven? Continue reading

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Better to Have Loved & Lost?

As human beings, we cannot live healthy, abundant, prolonged lives without love. We are created to love. We long for love. We will do crazy things to show our love. But at some point in our lives, we will all lose love. What then? Continue reading

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2018: The Year of Open Doors

As we approach the mid-point of the year, most New Year’s resolutions are a faint and distant memory. But what if 2018 could still become “The Year of Open Doors” for you? Continue reading

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Sit Among Your Weeds

Today I start with a confession: I’ve been struggling. Weeds are the straw that broke the camel’s (my) back, so to speak. The last little burden that became unbearable. But from my weeds emerged a transformative message from God… Continue reading

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Consider My Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets are to Texas what tulips are to Holland, azaleas are to Augusta, and cherry blossoms are to Washington DC. But what makes bluebonnets so remarkable is that they’re WILD. These words came to mind: “Consider how the wildflowers grow…” Continue reading

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A Promise from God

Whether our requests are big or small, at some point we all wonder if God hears us. Does the Creator of the universe care about our prayers for a new job, loneliness, a persistent cough, or help paying bills? In a word: Yes! Not only does He care, He promises so much more. Continue reading

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The Intersection of Faith and Work

We all work. Our workplaces may look different, but they share a commonality: intrinsic value to God’s Kingdom. Your work has eternal value. Continue reading

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Which Way Did He Go?

We can’t focus on both Jesus AND circumstances. It’s impossible! If we choose to focus on circumstances, suddenly it’s as if Jesus is gone. Continue reading

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Why “Do Good” For No Reason?

We genuinely want to help others. But it hurts when there’s no response or, worse, a bad response to our good efforts. So why keep trying? Continue reading

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