|Featured Preaching Woman|
Rev. Jennell Whitfield Riddick: There's Still More, So Walk In It!
Written by: Nichelle Early, Executive Editor
Have you ever experienced an impression in your heart that simply suggested, “There has to be more to life than this?” Well, what if I told you, you were right. There is more to your life! And, the very fact that your spirit has prompted you to acknowledge that there has to be more, indicates that there is a good chance that God is using your current circumstances to prepare you to acknowledge and receive more. So, what are you going to do? Will you decide to just know that there is more, but continue life as usual? Or, will you choose to acknowledge that yes, there is more and determine to go after it with your whole heart and “walk in it?”
Well if you chose the latter, you are in for a special treat! We have been favored with the wonderful opportunity to speak exclusively with Reverend Jennell Whitfield Riddick, Founder and Executive Director of Walk In It, Inc. She graciously accepted our invitation to be celebrated and featured on PreachingWoman.com and share with us some dynamic principles God has given her regarding discovering “the more” that He has for your life and making a decision to “Walk In It!”
Affectionately known as Lady Jay by many of those who love and adore her, Rev. Jennell Riddick (Rev. Riddick) is a vibrant, energetic, woman of God admired for her humility, integrity, grace, and authenticity. With an undeniable passion for empowering women and young ladies, it is evident that God has called her to lead and be a “life changer” for today’s generation.
Coupled with her responsibilities with Walk In It, Inc., an organization devoted to girl’s and women’s empowerment, and helping people operate in their maximum potential, Rev. Riddick serves alongside her husband, Pastor Dwight S. Riddick, as the Director of Ministries at First Baptist Church, Franklin, VA. Her unadulterated passion for God and His people has yielded her a powerful anointing, as a licensed and ordained preacher, to teach and preach the Word of God within and beyond the four walls of the church, offering fresh, insightful truths that encourage all people, especially women and young ladies, to maximize their God-given potential in their spiritual, personal, and professional lives.
As a graduate of the University of Richmond with honors, where she double majored in Rhetoric and Communication Studies and Theatre, Rev. Riddick continued to matriculate to the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union, where she earned a Master of Divinity Degree, and became an honor graduate. She is also an accomplished author with two books to her credit: Walk In It: Advancing Beyond Average, and Girl Talk: What Every Lady should Know. In tandem with her educational and literary accomplishments, Rev. Riddick is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions.
As the proud mother of two children, Dwight S. Riddick, III, and Jasmine Riddick, Rev. Riddick lives every day with a mission to encourage, empower, and equip, those that she meets with the Word of God and biblical based principles to help them operate in their maximum potential while excavating all that God has buried within the treasures of their spirit. Her desire is to see people experience the fullness and “more of God,” in every area of their lives by simply teaching them to, “walk in it” by faith!
Rev. Nichelle Early (NE) Founder of PreachingWoman.com, enjoyed the opportunity to speak one on one with Rev. Riddick and wants to share all that she learned with you!
NE: Rev. Riddick, I’m so honored that you have accepted our invitation to be featured on PreachingWoman.com!
JR: Rev. Early, the pleasure is all mine, I’m so honored and I thank you!
NE: Well, let’s get started: Rev. Riddick, what is the vision or mission of your ministry?
JR: The vision of Walk In It, Inc. is to educate, empower and equip women and girls with the necessary tools to reach their maximum potential; whether it is spiritually, socially, educationally, economically, etc. The mission is to see and assist women and girls to walk in the fullness of what God has ordained for their lives. I believe our God is a loving and purposeful God that has great plans and potential for all of His children and the desire of my heart to see them “Walk In It!”
NE: Amen! Now, God has given you such a passion towards empowering young women. How or why do you believe that passion birthed?
JR: Well, I believe there were a combination of things that birthed the passion that I have for young ladies and women. For instance, I began in ministry at a really early age. I started preaching at the age of 13, and I was licensed at the age of 18. In fact, the day before I left for college I was licensed. So, from an early age, I had a strong walk with the Lord. I was so blessed to be a part of a church family that supported many of the dreams and visions that I had…I can remember times that my entire church would come to support things that I was doing such as my theater endeavors, or if I had to speak at another church, my pastor would make concessions with the services so that my church family could accompany me.
So I realized that I had tremendous support, but at the same time, I became very aware of other friends and associates that were in my immediate community who too had great dreams and big goals, but were not fortunate to have the same kind of support and backing that I was blessed to have. So, my goal then became to be that voice, or to be that support to others, whether it was through encouragement, or to be that person that would serve as a connector to a person or resource they may have needed, in order to help catapult them to the next level.
So, I think the passion that I have towards empowering young women sparked overall from being grateful for the encouragement and support that I had and still enjoy today. And I think for me, the “aha moment” was when God had me realize that there is so much more that He has, not just for me, but for everyone, and so not only did I began to dream big dreams, but I encouraged others to do the same so that they too could “walk in it!”
NE: Yes, gratitude is key! So, Rev. Riddick, what are three principles you believe are important for Pastors, Parents, School Teachers, etc. to impart to young ladies today so that they can “Walk In It?”
JR: The first principle I will share is this:
It is important to help people discover their “it!” - I believe your “it” is that burning passion or desire that you have. In other words, it is that thing that you feel you are called to do that is likely to keep you awake at night. And what I have found, working with girls and women, is that they are constantly exposed to the “world of comparison” or that feeling of “being less than.” However, if they have someone in their lives that will help them develop a strong grasp of who they are, or discover the “it” that they are supposed to be walking in, it will empower and give them a much more fulfilling life; and, it will also handle some of the little petty things that young women can get caught up in that could derail their potential. So, it is imperative that leaders and parents let young ladies know that it is okay if their race is different, as it relates to the route God has given them to play, or if their assignment or the mandate on their life is unique. The ultimate goal for them is to discover their personal “it” that God has called them to do amidst the general call of being a part of the Body of Christ. Therefore, I encourage every parent and leader to help young ladies discover what their “it” is and help them “walk in it!”
Be “unapologetically” you! – We must encourage young ladies to unapologetically be who God has called them to be. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where it’s sometimes hard for people to celebrate other people. And at times, this forces people to “down-play” who God has called them to be. And ultimately, not only does this harm the immediate environment, but I believe this harms the Kingdom. God is such a big God, and if people feel as though they can’t be who God has called them to be, then we only experience a part of who they are. Therefore, full gifts don’t manifest, and we don’t get the opportunity to encounter the fullness of God’s purpose in their lives. Therefore, I encourage leaders and especially parents to teach their children to ‘unapologetically’ be who God has called them to be, of course within the framework of the Word of God, established rules, etc.; and for teachers, try not to stifle or silence the voices of children, but work with their personalities and cultivate the things you see emerging from them that will help them ultimately be all that God has purposed them to be.
Trust God for His ultimate plan and path for you! Sometimes, there are points in our lives where it seems as though what we are currently experiencing or seeing is not what we are believing God for. It doesn’t look like the Word He has spoken to us. But, I encourage parents and leaders to teach young women how to trust God. Teach them how to walk in faith, no matter what it looks like, and take God at His Word because He can not lie, and He will perform everything that He says. You cannot walk too far without trusting Him!
NE: Now, you are the author of Walk In It: Advancing Beyond Average. What is the core message of the book?
JR: The core message of the book is simply this: “There is something more to your life than you have probably discovered at this point.” Regardless of where you are in your life or your ministry, whether you are just a babe in Christ or you feel like you’ve reached the peak of your ministry, there is still more.
So in the book we talk about, “Discovering Your It,” as we’ve previously discussed, and we talk about “Don’t Trip on the Traps,” which shares that as you begin to “walk in it,” there may be things that begin to manifest that will ensnare you and how to overcome those things…We talk about how God has already made the crooked ways straight, and many other basic principles. And through those principles we emphasize life lessons regarding the importance of not having fear, getting past troubles, and walking anyway, among so many other dynamic lessons God has given. So all and all, the goal of the book is to provide people with tools to teach them how to “walk in it!” The book is scripture based, and there are prayers of activation, questions, and personal reflections at the end of each chapter.
NE: And, I can personally say it’s such an encouraging book and a great tool for parents and youth leaders to have and share with their young people.
Now, you also have another book called, “Girl Talk: What Every Lady Should Know.”
JR: Well, ‘Walk In It,’ is not only the title of the book, but it’s the name of the umbrella organization of my non-profit, through which we have a program called Ladies of Distinction, which is mentorship program with a girls component. Currently, God has blessed us to be active in six middle schools and high schools this school year, where we have mentored over 600 girls. We conduct mentoring sessions, conferences, and events to empower girls and give them basic foundational tools in terms of how to carry themselves, how to dress, what to say and not say, relationship principles, and much more.
Now, as a result of being in the schools, I noticed that many basic life principles were lacking. Additionally, I recognized that many churches were not addressing many of these topics either. Therefore, we use the book, Girl Talk: What Every Lady Should Know, to teach and elaborate on 10 basic principles to undergird these skills, such as “No Trash, Please: I’m Not a Trash Can,” “Dating and Healthy Relationships,” “Never Settling for Less,” and others. The book is really just an open and honest conversation to debunk many of the myths that young ladies are encountered with in today’s culture and society in order to help them maximize their potential.
NE: You are known for ministering regarding the importance of exposing one’s maximum potential. What are some tools that leaders can use to extract the maximum potential, not only out of God’s people, but out of young people who may be in their community that they may be mentoring or ministering to?
JR: In terms of tools that leaders can use towards excavating one’s maximum potential, I would offer the following:
Provide opportunities in a safe, loving environment for people to operate in their gifts – It is important that leaders provide opportunities in an environment that is safe and full of love amongst seasoned peers where people are allowed to practice their crafts or exercise their gifts. Having those opportunities are so important because “iron sharpens iron.” Everyone needs that safe place where they can receive open and honest feedback in order for them to develop properly. This is not only good in the church setting, but also in school or mentorship systems.
Encourage and provide constructive criticism – You should not be afraid to offer “constructive” criticism and tools to help people. Generally, most people prefer to be the encourager and offer their love and support. And so often times, they will shy away from saying things they feel could potentially offend or harm. But I believe that in safe settings, it’s important that you be honest with people and tell them the truth in love so that they can grow and develop and be better for God and the Kingdom.
Provide empowerment through good exposure – Be intentional about exposing those that you have been mentoring or grooming to good resources. Maybe it’s a good book written about their gift, or a conference that is offering principles that will make them better and they can come back and share them with their congregation or support group; however God leads you to offer it, I believe good exposure is so important.
NE: Wow…I really agree with that. Exposure is one of the principles that PreachingWoman.com is guided by as it comes to featuring preaching women from all around the nation.
Well, last but certainly not least, what do you believe God is saying in this hour?
JR: In this season, I believe that God is about to do something really awesome and He does not want us to allow anything, anyone, or any situation to cloud what He has spoken. I believe that He desires to pour out His Spirit, release His favor, and open doors of opportunity in a way that we really haven’t seen before. Therefore, I believe that God is asking us, in some ways, to increase our capacity so that we are able to be prepared for as well as handle what He is getting ready to manifest. For many of us, had God granted the desires of our hearts in previous seasons, we would not have been able to handle them due to a lack of preparation.
However, I just believe in this season God is saying, “I don’t want to hold my hand back, I want to give to you the fullness, and I want to see you walk under an open heaven but, I need for you to be ready for it. I need you to be prepared.” Therefore, I believe this is a season of preparation, focus, and one in which we must trust God like never before. We must go at this thing with our whole heart, holding nothing back. If we don’t hold anything back in our relationship, commitment, and service to Him, then God is not going to hold anything back in regards to His favor, provision, opportunity, and all those things He wants us to see and manifest on this side of Glory.
I believe like David said, I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). I believe that there are some things God wants us to see and experience and I believe in this time we have to be ready for it, we have to receive it, and we have to walk in it!