Women in Leadership: Walk your own path
It can be difficult to find your own path in life, and it is easy to be consumed by the expectations and opinions of others. Growing as a young woman in a position of leadership, Captain Evelyn Chiloola (Zambia) has experienced this struggle, but has learned to listen only to what God thinks of her. Captain Evelyn shares her testimony with us.
My experience in leadership as a young woman officer has been that leadership is a process. It is not to be determined by age or gender. I see leadership as a practical skill or gift that encompasses the ability of an individual to lead, influence or guide others. In other words, leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. I have learnt not to compare myself to others because each person is unique and has been gifted differently by God.
Comparison stalls creative potential and the ability to perform. Whenever I find myself in the act of comparison, I am reminded of what I have been through in this life to sustain me through the long journey of leading others. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, ‘Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.’ This verse inspires me to not be discouraged by my age, but to live above the standards expected of me as a young leader.
Even as a young officer, I have faced many obstacles in loving and serving Christ’s Church. I have had moments of doubt, fear, pride, resentment, anger and sometimes hardship. But still I have learnt that when I keep praying and serving, God’s Spirit softens my heart. When I continue to serve God through the difficulties that I face, obstacles are moved out of my way and I see the glorious grace of the risen Christ in unexpected people and places. Psalm 46:10 encourages me to persevere no matter what I face: ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10).
I have had a successful ministry as a spiritual leader; God has always been my strength and things have worked out for me. I have learnt not to underestimate the power of God through faith and love. This reminds me of my first appointment. As a young lieutenant, I was appointed to a rural corps where the majority of the membership were older people. I was only 23 years old at that time and, praise God, he used me amazingly at this appointment because within a very short period I could relate with the people very well. They also had trust in me in such a way that they were very free to share with me their personal and marital issues. It is easy to question why these older people trusted a young woman, but I know it is because I showed them compassion and maturity.
I have experienced similar situations in subsequent appointments, and I continued to see the hand of God leading me effectively, enabling these corps to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Though I am young, I have taken time to determine who I am and what my values and priorities are. This gives me greater self-knowledge, greater self-confidence and improved effectiveness as a leader. I always remind myself that successful people are those who know that there is no one stopping them from developing a vision of who they want to be, how they want to be perceived, how they want to feel and how they want to perform their role.
Captain Evelyn Chiloola
Captain Evelyn (Zambia Territory) has been a Salvation Army officer for 13 years.
With her husband she has served at five corps, and at divisional and territorial headquarters. She currently serves as the Territorial Home League Secretary within the Women's Ministries office. She has three young children, one boy and two girls.