An Interview with Jo Saxton
We are happy to be able to share with you a deeper look into Jo Saxton's new book, Ready to Rise, through a Q&A interview with the author herself.
Jo Saxton is an international speaker, leadership coach, and a podcast host of the Lead Stories Podcast. She is passionate about helping grow leadership teams globally and empowering women to discover their purpose in life and in leadership.
Here's our interview with Jo Saxton:
Q: What inspired you to write your new book, Ready to Rise?
A: I was inspired by the women I met when speaking at churches or conferences. They were incredibly talented, dynamic, gifted women. But when I’d meet them in the bathrooms/toilets/loos (that place of great bonding and conversation) they often shared (sometimes in tears), how deeply frustrated they were about their calling. They were leaders, some in church, some beyond. Yet they longed for the investment that would help them be the leaders God called them to be. They saw no clear path for their leadership development, especially any that spoke to their experiences. They knew they were missing out, felt stuck and didn’t know what to do to change that.
As I reflected on these women, bursting with potential and promise, I wondered what we were missing out on, what the cost of this lack of investment was? What churches aren’t being planted, ministries started, books written, businesses launched, nonprofits birthed, communities built, the list goes on … because women who were called by God to lead weren’t being equipped and empowered to step into their God given influence and play their part? What does it mean for human flourishing in society?
I wanted to put a resource in the hand of every woman working out her calling whether she was an aspiring leader, emerging leader or an established leader - including those who feel fundamentally uncomfortable with calling themselves a “leader”! I also wanted to offer a tool to the leaders (men and women) who are seeking to ignite and empower another generation of women leaders around them.
That’s where Ready to Rise began.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you realized that God was calling you into leadership?
A: I often say I was the last to work out that I was a leader! My friends knew, my teachers knew, I was the captain of sport team, had leadership roles in my class. But it still took me a long time to work it out, to accept and embrace God’s call on my life to lead.
I spent a lot of time feeling conflicted over my gift and calling. Was I too much? What if I’m not enough? I didn’t often see someone who looked like me in the places where I was being inspired or drawn to leadership. So sometimes I wondered if that meant I wasn’t supposed to lead.
And honestly, I was just really scared to go for it, you know? To respond to God’s call with all I am in total surrender was intimidating. I spent way too much time in my own head wrestling with it. In my 20’s I worried that if I led, would I still be marriage material? In my 30’s, I wondered how to juggle family life and leadership. In my 40’s I can tell you that leadership is not easy, but God is faithful
Q: What do you think is the first step that women can take to live up to their full potential and step into their influence?
A: Agree with who God says she is – too often we’ve lefts our God given gift unattended and unwrapped and we’ve called it humility. So first of all – I encourage women to agree with who God says you are, not what others say you should be. Agree with God’s call on your life, the gifts he has given you, because your mindset shapes how you lead. You don’t live, love or lead beyond what you believe to be true about yourself.
And know this: Your gifts are not an accident, your call is not a concession. That way you have with numbers, that gift of hospitality, those dreams which won’t leave you alone – dreams ,to lead , to launch businesses, serve communities, create art and more –don’t have to be apologized for, or buried You are not too old, too young, too much, not enough. Your past, your ethnicity does not disqualify you. The list goes on. But you are called and commissioned into God’s purposes in our day. Ask God what that means for your ordinary everyday life today. - the people he is inviting you to love and to serve. Because love and service is what leadership is all about. And then respond to what he says.
Next: tell someone. Talk it through with trusted friends and key relationships. Connect with the kind of environments that celebrate what God has invested in you and will help you to learn to grow. It takes a village to raise, establish and sustain a leader. Your relationships matter and will shape your leadership for years…
Then remember - leaders are lifelong learners, so consider the skills you need to grow in your calling. Do you need to study, read, listen to podcasts? Who do you see doing what you’re called to how can you learn from them? Who do you admire – what can you learn from them?
Those are a few good places to start.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your new book?
A: My personality type is the kind that would love rising up to sound like a passionate roar of people doing dramatic exciting things (!), but when I look honestly at my life, my family, and the women I’ve met around the world it can be so different from that. Rising up has looked like rising up from the ashes, rising above disappointment, rising in vulnerability, even rising in weakness...It can mean discovering/ recovering gifts and purpose out of life’s tragedies and challenges – and in every place seeing God’s redemptive hand at work.
So I hope the readers of this book dare to say yes to their God given calling in this moment in history, and discover what it means for them to rise up. If there was ever a time to own your voice, to gather your community (virtually if needed!) and step into your influence, it’s now.
Now is the time to rise. Our world is waiting.
A huge thanks to Jo Saxton for taking the time to answer our interview questions about her new book!
To get a copy of Ready to Rise by Jo Saxton, click here.