be like eleanor – women helping women

Over the weekend I watched the series “First Ladies” on SBS. As the title suggests, it’s a documentary that highlights six wives of American Presidents; the different ways they filled their roles and the impact that resulted.

Amongst all the amazing humanitarian, peace keeping and world changing causes the various women gave their powerful voice and influence to – there was one incident in the story of Eleanor Roosevelt that struck me profoundly.

Eleanor Roosevelt was the longest serving First Lady as her husband, President Franklin D Roosevelt, was in office for four terms (1933-1945). Out of office her list of accomplishments continued to grow – she appears to have been a remarkable woman – aware of her influence and privilege and determined to use it on behalf of those with less.

One action she took when she first became First Lady was to hold her own daily press conferences. Due to her husband’s illness and her seemingly infatigable capacity and passion, she was an incredibly active part of the Roosevelt presidential reign. The American and global press were keen to know her daily movements and the causes she was involved in. So, she agreed to daily access for the press. However, she only allowed female reporters into the room.

At the time, women were excluded from the President’s press room and so she decided to make the opposite mandate for her own. As a result, news outlets were forced to hire female reporters if they didn’t want to fall behind on the news coming from the First Lady’s office.

What a glass ceiling shattering move! Whatever efforts were being made at the ground level to open doors for females in journalism at the time were instantaneously catapulted to a whole other level of opportunity and experience. Undoubtedly, it changed the landscape for women in journalism from that time forward. It was only 10 years earlier that the American Constitution was amended to give women equal rights to men. This was an incredibly progressive act that had immeasurable immediate and ongoing ramifications.

This right here is how to use your platform. This is what it means to be aware of your privilege and influence. This is what it looks like to recognise that when you get an opportunity it doesn’t stop with you. This is what happens when use your power on behalf of others.

I wanted to stand up and applaud her (and I might have were I not so comfortably ensconced on my couch!)!! It’s women like her that have made a way for women like me … and it made me conscious again of the way we make for those coming after us.

Not only did Eleanor Roosevelt make it to the Whitehouse. She made sure her making it enabled others to make it also. This is true leadership. Another First Lady, Michelle Obama, elsewhere in the series says, “When you walk through the door of opportunity you don’t slam it shut behind you, you hold it open!”

I reflected again on the many who have held doors open for me in my lifetime. And those that did it for them to make that possible. It’s easy to become frustrated by the slow pace of change or the entrenched ideologies and practices that close doors or fortify them to be almost impossible to open. It can be disheartening. But I can do something. I can chock open a door. I can invite more people in. I can sponsor opportunity. I can use my voice – however singular it might be. I can create space. I can pull up a chair. I can be like Eleanor!

3 reasons you should be a mentor

Being a mentor is one of the more privileged, rewarding, and challenging things you can do! If you’re not one, here’s a few reasons I think you should consider it.

Because it’s not all about you! 

Whatever you know, have or experience is not just about or for you. It never is. Everything that you learn in your life, the skills you possess, the talents you develop, the capacity you have is never about you learning, possessing, or developing so much as it is about the IMPACT those acquisitions can have on the world around you.

To be a mentor is to realise that you have something to give. And you do!

Being a mentor is an acknowledgement that the wisdom you’ve acquired over the years is most wisely applied in the developing of other people’s wisdom! Even if you’ve earned it through a series of terrible decisions and catastrophic failures, your wisdom can be of benefit to those who are coming behind you. Even if you don’t think you’re particularly wise, you’re probably wiser than someone … in something … and it is upon us all to see that we don’t just hoard and protect what we know but that we use it in service of others.

Because it has redemptive power.

Your most disastrous mistake. Your most embarrassing failure. Your deepest wounding. Your greatest regret. These can all find a sense of redemption when allowed to be used to protect, prepare or comfort others.

Whether your story becomes one of warning and caution, one of inspiration and conviction or one of empathy and understanding … there will be something for others to glean from it and so it needs to be shared. And although it doesn’t erase the consequences, pain, guilt or regret it ensures that those feelings aren’t wasted. It brings something of purpose and usefulness out of experiences that would otherwise seem so wasteful and hopeless.

Would I rather not have experienced a broken marriage, grief, or failure? Absolutely! But if it’s happened, would I rather see the learning and the sharing bring life, hope, and wisdom to others? You bet!

Because you know it’s hard to ‘go it alone’.

You may never have had a mentor. You may have constantly craved that intentional investment and support or you might not even realised you were missing it. But I think we can all acknowledge that sometimes life is difficult and often times we are left to navigate life on our own.

New parents, young entrepreneurs, students, newly weds, first time home owners, emerging artists, writers and communicators can all feel like they’re stumbling in the dark – trying to work out how to conduct themselves in an industry or lifestage where everyone else seems to know what they’re doing but them. It can be intensely isolating.

You remember that. You can be part of breaking that pattern for those who are coming after you.

So, what do you think? Who could you be mentoring? What environments could you connect into where your wisdom and experience can be beneficially shared? What relationships could you be fostering to bring some of these mentoring outcomes to the fore?

(And just a little something for nothing … the reality is that you ARE leading, modelling and influencing whether you choose to or not. People are watching you and imitating you. A little more intentionality could help ensure that influence is positive and helpful.)

what would someone look like if they looked like you?


When I was about three years old my mum walked past my room to hear me disciplining my dolls. 

“One …two …four!”

Mum was about to correct my counting when I continued, “aren’t you glad I didn’t say three?”

You can probably guess that the old count to three was one of our family’s discipline strategies. And here my lucky dolls were getting a reprieve by me not saying three before they had a chance to rectify their behaviour. 

Most learning for children happens by modelling and mimicking. They learn language, counting, basic life skills (like dressing and eating) all by watching adults and older children. This is also true about intangibles like attitude and character. 

As front row audience members to the day to day lives of their parents, family and friends, they absorb something of their values, morals and ethics. This is largely positive, except for the part where they pick up on the inconsistencies between our speech and behaviour or where they accurately mirror attitudes or tendencies of which we are unaware or not proud. 

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”‭‭ Phil‬ ‭4:9‬

Paul says, “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realised.” (The ‭MSG‬‬)

Now, I’m completely ok with people putting into practice what they learned from me. I am an intentional leader and teacher. They’re hopefully learning some good gear! But what you hear, see and realise or observe? I’m not so sure all of that is ideally replicated. 

Whilst I think Paul is a little nuts to make this declaration, I like what it demonstrates of the recognition that he was a person of influence and authority and that with such privilege came a high degree of responsibility. He was aware. He knew that beyond what he said, people would be looking at what he was doing and saying. 

How about for us? If others are repeating our speech, what do they sound like? If they’re adopting our values, what are they like as a citizen, a friend, a worker, a family member? If they were to give like we give, would they be generous? If they were to accept and include like we do, would they be non-judgmental and embracing? If they were to extend grace as we do, would they be first to apologise and quick to forgive? 

Everything you’ve heard and seen and realised


Our response to this ought not be one of condemnation and guilt but conviction and inspiration. 

We don’t get to choose IF we influence but we do get to choose how and to what. 

5 things every kid needs to grow in faith || another voice

#3 another voice

“So, if David told you to jump off a cliff would you?” “If Sarah stuck her hand in a fire, would you?” 

I bet you’ve all had a parent or teacher make this kind of argument to you. Maybe you’ve said something similar as a parent or teacher? This would normally be in response to a child using the argument (or defence), “but David told me to” or “but Sarah was doing it”! 

Of course, as a kid, you thought this was just the proof you were needing to confirm that your parents had officially lost the plot!

“Yes Mum, of course I would jump off a cliff if David did. Because I’m stupid and I do stupid things!” [written in bold ‘sarcastica’ font] – complete with eye roll and huffy body language. 

Or “Sarah wouldn’t put her hand in a fire, she’s not stupid, why don’t you like Sarah?!”

But here’s what we know for sure. The reason parents say things like that is because they genuinely worry that the influence of others on their kids’ lives could legitimately lead them to do really silly things! It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where there’s a group of friends hanging around a fire and Sarah sticks her hand in and everyone joins her! 

They know – and subsequently fear – that people do become who they hang around with. That they will mirror the behaviour and attitudes of those they admire. That they will gravitate to any people or groups that extend belief, acceptance or respect. They know a young person’s sensibility and sense of consequence is easily overridden by the intensity of their need to belong. 

Parents get this. Teachers and leaders get this. So the logical next step is to use that power for good rather than evil! 

To grow and persist in faith young people need voices other than their parents reinforcing the life changing message of Jesus. They need other adults and invested “older” people who will show them a way of living after Jesus that is relatable, attainable and authentic. 

While parents will always be the number one influencers in their children’s lives they also say dumb things about fires and cliffs! (wink) Children are looking for other people to affirm or contradict the values and beliefs of their parents. People that provide relational connection, belonging, respect and safe places for exploration of doubts will win a place of influence in the heart of young people. 

Faith communities and families can work together to nurture these relationships and our young people to maturity and flourishing in life and faith. (Read more at how to fix your church). 
 5 Things Every Kid Needs || Think Orange

#1 a really big God

#2 other people who believe what they do

#3 another voice 

#4 uncommon sense

#5 nosey parents