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Lee Challenges Students to be True Leaders

April 5, 2002

Lee, whose profession is nursing, began by saying how blessed she was to be able to spend 30 years working in the field of her choice. She said that regardless of what educational foundation one might have, God will use it in a multitude of channels in work and in communicating the faith.

She gave a brief history of WMU, which began in 1888 when a small group of women meeting in a Methodist church basement decided that God was calling them to use their gifts and abilities in a mission sense. Those women, she said, knew that God was calling them to stir up a mission spirit in the churches through prayer, monetary contributions and an awareness of how God wanted to use people to share the Gospel in a lost world.

She said that these women knew that God wanted to use them and they committed to the leadership role of leading the church to find the spirit of missions.

"Could it be true that there is a group of thoughtful, committed citizens in your midst that will go out and impact the world?" Lee asked students.

She went on to speak of the current generation as the "generation of life-long learners". She said this generation wanted to work for companies that shared their values, had flexible hours, allowed them to grow, and shared a work ethic based on honesty and respect. She also said that even in a technology-driven society this generation still wants to have a lasting impact on the lives of people. They want to be leaders.

Leadership, she said, truly develops from the inside out. It is the ability to influence. It is the ability to obtain followers.

"Think about the most introverted person you know and recognize that that person has the ability to influence 10,000 people," Lee said.

She spoke of Owen Cooper, a layman and leader in the Southern Baptist faith. Cooper owned a fertilizer company where he spent half his day working with his company and the other half trying to discover ways his company could impact the world.

Cooper oversaw the building of a fertilizer plant in India larger than his own to help the country with production problems. He wanted to give the people food to eat, but he also wanted to give them spiritual food that would last them into eternity. Cooper was a leader, she said.

"What we have in our culture today is a great void in leadership especially among women and we must change that," Lee said.

She spoke of three qualities in leadership that would help foster new leaders for today. The first, integrity, implies a consistency between what is outside and what is inside. It means that your actions match what you say and people can trust you.

She then spoke on courage. She said that being courageous means not being afraid to act when the facts point you in the direction to go.

She concluded with the mindset of servanthood. She said it is a process of building people, not polishing an existing system.

"What incredible people we can be in this world when we don't think of ourselves as leaders but servants and followers of Jesus Christ," Lee said.

She closed by challenging students to be leaders and not be afraid to take a stand when they feel they can make a difference in someone's life.

A native of Russellville, Ala., Lee received an R.N. degree from the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing, now a part of Samford University. She later worked as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Ga., for 18 years. She also was a missionary nurse in St. Vincent, Winward Islands, with the International Mission Board for several years.

She has participated in medical mission projects to Bosnia and Brazil as well as working with several Habitat for Humanity projects. She led the Lottie Moon Tour of China in 1997. She also is a writer for Dimension magazine and Missions Mosaic.