Jenni Catron Talks Women
I met Jenni Catron the way I meet a lot of people: over lunch with a group of leaders.
One of the things I liked about her immediately? Jenni’s not a woman to melt away in a group of men.
She’s the caliber of person who could sit down with the President or with your crazy aunt Marlene and be equally articulate, affirming and gracious.
Which is where she started with me–by beginning the interview by thanking ME for engaging this discussion.
Jenni: Unfortunately, yes. Competition and comparison seem so second-nature, especially in our American culture.
For me, the core of those issues has to do with insecurity. One of my greatest challenges is understanding who God has made me to be and being confident in his purpose and plan for me. I find that most often the enemies to my confidence are fear and jealousy.
When I fear feelings of inadequacy I have to choose to remember what is true about who God says I am in Him. When I am jealous of other women and their accomplishments, I’ve found that the best way for me to combat those feelings is to generously support and encourage them.
That’s totally counter to what I want to do, but every time I choose to replace jealousy with generosity I take another step towards eliminating jealousy’s control on my life.
Jenni: One of the greatest lessons I’m learning right now is the power of the influence I have with other women in my life. For many years, I didn’t feel like I had anything to give. I was so focused on my own growth and development that I was oblivious to the responsibility that I had to speak into the lives of the women around me.
I wish I had realized this sooner. We underestimate the value of our belief in others. Generosity breeds generosity. When we generously speak truth and words of affirmation into the lives of the women around us, we can turn the tide of jealousy, competition and comparison. I’m seeing it happen right before my eyes in the community of women I serve with and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing!
Sarah: I love that you said “We underestimate the value of belief in others.” Are there any Scripture passages or Biblical stories that speak to this theme for you?
Jenni: Galatians 6:4-5 got my attention a year or so ago when I was reading it from The Message translation. It says:
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
I absolutely love this verse because it challenges me on so many levels. The first sentence is a challenge to us to identify and understand God’s purpose and plan for our lives. But then sandwiched right in the middle are these two critical statements: “Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others.” Isn’t that exactly what we do?
When we start to feel a bit confident in our talents and abilities, we become prideful. We start taking credit and we begin evaluating how we measure up to everyone around us. I don’t think it’s an accident that God put these cautions right in the middle of giving us a pep talk to be who He created us to be. As women, we have to understand who God has created us to be – this is at the heart of our comparison and competition issues.
Sarah: It’s funny. We don’t always think the Bible speaks right to our emotions and social behavior, but that hits right at the heart, doesn’t it? Last question. In closing, would you like to share any other insights that guide you in the day to day?
Jenni: I truly believe that our “catty” and competitive attitude with each other is the greatest thing holding us back from fully flourishing as women in leadership. Until we put the boxing gloves down and become champions and cheerleaders for one another, I don’t believe we’ll ever fully realize our potential or thrive in our leadership and influence.[[Note from Sarah: If you enjoyed this interview, you might want to check out the others in this series. Check out this one with author Leeana Tankersley, this one with New York Times Best Selling Author Ann Voskamp, this one with non-profit leader Jena Nardella of Bloodwater Mission or this one with blogger Heather Whittaker.]]