Perhaps you have inadvertently bought into the perception that grace is simply and solely God's unmerited favor. Maybe you've even engaged the notion that grace has everything to do with God and nothing to do with you. Although these ideas are widely accepted, the grace of God is much more than that. Grace is the power of our sovereign God, not coming down to us, but working through us, enabling and favoring us to do more and be more than we could ever imagine for His glory! Grace, through the ability and giftings of the Holy Spirit, works with us to empower us to fulfill God's ultimate purpose for our lives thus ascribing to us our responsibility to leave legacy in the earth. Therefore, as one called and chosen by God, what are you doing to leave a legacy in the earth? What indelible footprint will you leave in the kingdom, your community, or marketplace that unearths the evidence of something you "did, said, created, or impacted" that will be remembered beyond your generation? Will it matter that you were here to more than just your family and closest friends?
Today, our goal is to help you closely consider these questions and even, perchance, challenge you to move beyond the fixation of your personal desires and objectively examine the impact that you are having on the lives of others. This month's featured preaching woman, Dr. Sherry Gaither, co-laborer with her husband, Senior Pastor Benjamin Gaither of the Stronghold Christian Church in Lithonia, GA, graciously accepted our invitation to be featured on our site and share with us principles of legacy, leadership, and empowerment, so that we may stand ready to answer and confidently settle these questions once and for all.
Internationally respected as an educator, motivational speaker, and author, Dr. Sherry Gaither, affectionately revered by many as "Dr. G," is a multi-gifted pastor whose passionate love for God and people is virulent to all who encounter her ministry and presence. Encapsulated in beauty, poise, and immeasurable kindness, Dr. Gaither is the epitome of a lady on a mission to excavate the fullness of God's purpose within her so that He may be glorified and lives may be impacted and changed. Traveling extensively throughout the United States and Africa, God has anointed Dr. Gaither to minister His Word with compelling authority and extraordinary illumination, incorporated with the transformational power of His Holy Spirit. Countless lives have been saved, healed, delivered and changed on account of God's grace flowing through her life.
As the founder of Empowerment Network International (ENI, Inc.), Dr. Gaither has influenced the church and the corporate world with biblical leadership principles, specializing in motivating individuals through her life changing workshops, seminars and television talk show, "Empowering Your Life." She is also the founder of The Lady & Her Legacy, a non-profit network which partners with women from all walks of life with the chief purpose of inspiring them to reach their full potential with the aspiration of becoming a "living legend" in their homes, communities and the market place while working together and with others.
Since 1991, Dr. Gaither has served on the staff of Beulah Heights University as a professor in leadership. Her prior experience in marketing and management has enabled her to effectively inspire and empower leaders in the market place as well as within the Kingdom of God.
PreachingWoman.com's founder, Rev. Nichelle Early (NE), cherished the opportunity to speak one on one with Dr. Gaither and gain insight into a fraction of her vast experience and revelation regarding legacy, leadership, and empowerment.
NE: Dr. Gaither, thank you so much for interviewing with PreachingWoman.com, I am so honored to have you as our featured Preaching Woman for the month of July.
Dr. Gaither: Thank you, I'm honored to have been selected for feature, and I thank you for the work that you are doing!
NE: Amen! Well, Dr. Gaither, let's get started! Although you pastor Stronghold Christian Church along with your husband, what is the core vision of the personal ministry God has given you?
Dr. G: Well, my personal ministry exists to empower people to fulfill their God-given destiny, their God-given purpose, and to leave a legacy in the earth. And, what I mean by legacy is simply to affect, impart, and impact someone else's life using your God ordained gifts, talents, and anointing for His glory. As a result of this, I started a non-profit network called the Lady & Her Legacy. This was inspired partly as a result realizing that I had been the "first" woman to accomplish many different things. In particular, I was the first woman licensed and ordained at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1989 under the leadership of Bishop Eddie Long, although he wasn't a Bishop then. However, in 2009, in celebration of my 20 years in ministry, Bishop Long was the guest speaker at a luncheon hosted in my honor. During that luncheon, themed, The Lady & Her Legacy, Bishop Long prophesied that I would be one who would stand and impart wisdom to women and that I would be the "first" in many things. Since that day, I have; and, my goal is to be a living legend for God's glory.
NE: And how do we become "living legends?"
Dr. G: To be a legend means to live out your purpose and impact others so that when you die, it matters that you were born. Often times, the biggest challenge I see, is that we as a people can become so preoccupied with me, me, me, that we never affect, impart, or impact the life of someone else. But, we must remember that it's not all about us! What must affect and impact others for God's glory! We must position ourselves to be instruments used by God to be the surgeon that brings about someone else's healing; we must be a conduit for someone else's deliverance. It's time to stop, every Sunday, still coming to the church alter, and decide to alter our lives where necessary so that we can affect change in every arena for God's glory!
NE: Amen! Speaking of change in every arena, Dr. Gaither, how important is it for the Body of Christ to influence both the church and the corporate marketplace?
Dr. G: It is very important! Jesus said, "...I have chosen you out of the world..." (John 15:19). Therefore, we are in this world, but not of this world. We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). We are like salt shakers. Salt affects everything it comes into contact with, and that is what God has purposed for us to do. The world is our mission field, not the church. God has wired us with various gifts, talents, and anointing in order to send us into the world to affect change. He's not taking us from the world, but He's chosen us out of the world in order to send us into the world so that we can affect change.
NE: Wow! That's awesome, "not from, but in..." And, the thing I love about all of this is, that in order to affect change, we must be respected as leaders in order to inspire others so that they will desire change!
Dr. G: That's right.
NE: Dr. Gaither. please share with us a few core leadership principles regarding how to affect change.
Dr. G: A leader is a person who can inspire and influence followers. You are not a leader if you do not have followers or cannot influence others to follow you. It's important that we understand that leadership does not have anything to do with titles or position.
Some of the core characteristics of leadership are:
Woe be unto us if we lead God's people astray. We must be able to see beyond the natural and the present in order to lead God's people according to His purpose. Leaders must be diligent to have clear vision.
NE: Dr. Gaither, how does one become a leader, what is the process?
Dr. G: I'm glad you asked that! Leaders must be developed and processed. There are several tests that one must past in order to become an effective leader; and I can give you several biblical examples of those tests:
- Integrity/Character Test - Joseph
- Time/Patience Test - Abraham and Sarah
- Wilderness Test - Moses
- Discouragement Test - Hannah
- Servant Leader Test - Elijah and Elisha
- Faithful Servant Test - Joshua and Moses
- Self-Will Test - Jesus - He couldn't have a hidden agenda or selfish ambitions, remember, He told God, not mine will, but thine will be done!
We must pass these tests and others in order to qualify for leadership.
NE: This is absolutely awesome! You can clearly understand the significance of those particular tests based upon the biblical examples you provided. And the thing I love is that God loved them enough to empower them to pass their test!
Now, empowerment is a core emphasis of your ministry. Please share with a little with us regarding empowerment.
Dr. G: Empowerment for me is three-fold:
Equipping + Transforming + Developing a person = CHANGE
God wants us to go from being victims to being victorious. He wants us to know that whatever you have gone through, in Him you can always rebound. He never intended for us to be defeated, victimized, or just barely making it. God wants us to live empowered lives in Him. An empowered life is one of expansion, elevation, and promotion in Christ Jesus!
NE: Amen! Thank God for an empowered life!
Dr. Gaither, you are the author of two best-selling books; particularly in your book, Promoting Leaders: Who Know How to Serve and Encounter with God, three themes emerge: self-discovery; self-renewal; and self-improvement. Please share a little about those themes.
Dr. G: Well, we've kind of covered these throughout, however:
- Self-Discovery - Self-discovery is about "Why am I here?" We must truly understand what our purpose is in order to be a living legend and leave a legacy in the earth. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..." God says, he knew, formed, and fashioned you; nobody's a mistake. We created for purpose on purpose. You don't hear "well done" if you have not "done well." We must fulfill our purpose!
- Self-Renewal - Self-renewal is understanding and honing your strengths, gifts, and talents by consistently making full use of them. For example, George Washington Carver discovered the peanut. However, he didn't stop there; he continued to renew that discovery by creating other products and uses for the peanut. He did other things with it. The principle is the same with us. Self-renewal postures us to say, "God, I give you my gifts and talents, continue to show me how to renew them and so that you can prepare me for success!"
- Self-Improvement - Self-improvement says, "God, equip me to know that it's all about you and prepare me to be a dead woman walking so that you get the glory." In other words, the more I die to me and live in Him, it improves and brings me closer to the true glory of who I really am...Also, often times, most people fear failure and because they do, they decide not to attempt anything. But, we all must be lifelong learners; we must be willing to constantly evolve and go to the next level. We must desire to go from glory to glory and not get stuck or complacent.
NE: And all of this really speaks to the subject of "Transformational Leadership."
Dr. G: Yes, because again, transformational leadership is about change. And, it's about empowering other people by being inspirational, impactful, and influential...and we may all accomplish these on different levels.
Dr. Gaither has garnered a plethora of academic accomplishments to include a B.A. Degree in Communication, a M.A. Degree in Christian Education and a Doctor of Ministry Degree. Subsequent to these achievements, Dr. Gaither is also a certified transformational life and leadership coach and she has received numerous nominations and awards. Her most recent honor includes the Women's Leadership and Empowerment Award in recognition of her global leadership and empowerment of women.
NE: Dr. Gaither, in closing, what do you want the world to know about you as a person?
Dr. G: I want people to know that it is my desire to be a vessel, conduit, and instrument for God's glory. When God desires to do something, He seeks a man or a woman. God doesn't come down, He comes through. When he needed a deliverer, He came through Moses...When spies had to be hid, He moved through Rahab, proving that our past doesn't change our purpose; when God needed to shift people from bondage to the Promised Land, He came through Joshua; when He needed a prophet, He sent one through Hannah...a Forerunner, He moved through John the Baptist. Again, God doesn't come down, He comes through. And, I'm on a mission to bring people, especially women together, because we've got to get pass jealousy, envy and competitiveness and support one another and learn how to work with one another, so that God came come through us! Therefore, I stand to say, we don't have to allow our adversity to be our defeat! All we have to do is be yielded vessel's for God's glory.
We must be ladies that leave legacies!