Charisma

Valencia

Well, it has been a minute. Let it be known that my of-late posting frequency is not at all a reflection of the amount of writing I have been doing. There is a correlation between the two—i.e. the more I’m writing, the less I’m posting, ironically enough—but it is not a direct reflection.

That aside, I have recently started contributing to Darling Magazine. If you follow me on any form of social media you know this already. I am GIDDY about this opportunity and have been fan-girl posting it, quite literally, everywhere. And yes, I am conflicted about being so post-happy… the rational side of me with an ounce or two of self awareness is saying, “dial it back a bit, you’re being obnoxious” while the unbridled, candid side is all, “OMG, sorry I’m not sorry, Kiss Heart emoji. Post”

….You can guess which side is winning.

Let me explain why I’m so giddy about this opportunity: Sure, being published is every writer’s dream. BUT more importantly, Darling is a secular publication that aims to empower women to embrace authenticity, strength and learn the art of being a woman.  I love, love, love what they do and how they go about it, but it is not a Christian folk publication.

That is why I’m giddy. Writing for Darling has forced me to brainstorm topics that would be inspiring, challenging, empowering and encouraging that are not directly associated  with any religion, much less associated with Jesus.

One minor detail, I happen to believe that everything lovely and good and true is directly affiliated with Jesus. So, oops?

I believe that good will eventually find it’s roots in him, as will beauty, kindness, loveliness and so on. So, while this publication is not a Christian publication, I happen to be a Christian who holds these beliefs. What’s a girl to do?

This has presented an opportunity to highlight aspects of the character of Jesus in a way that is lovely and attractive, and in doing so, indirectly encourage women of all backgrounds and belief systems to aspire to embody said characteristics, i.e. to be like him.

Is this real life? Am I actually getting to do this? It is a delight.

My first article was about Charisma. I loosely based it off of Isaiah 58:10, which says: “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” The gist of the message is that it is only when we take our eyes off of ourselves that we are able to see and meet the needs of those around us. When we concentrate our efforts to doing that— helping others instead of fixating on ourselves— our gloom will be overcome as darkness is by the noonday sun. I mean, yes please. have there been truer words?

Jesus embodied Charisma as well, but in a different manner (ya know– since he’s like, God and everything) than we, as non-deity, will. Jesus saw into people and cast vision for them. Think of Paul, think of Peter, think of Zacchaeus, think of the woman at the well. He had a way of saying: “I see you as you are and I see what you could be.”

While Charisma is most exemplified in him, and we see themes of it throughout scripture, it remains an attractive character quality for everyone—Christian and non-Christian alike. So here’s the article that I wrote in response to what I see manifested in the life of Christ and throughout the scriptures regarding Charisma…

We met well before sunrise behind the bar at a coffee shop nearly 5 years ago. It was my first day she was the chosen veteran who would train me. At first glance I was convinced she wouldn’t like me. I was a walking stereotype of a sorority girl, and she was a canvas of vibrant tattoos with individuality to boot. In short, we looked like opposites.

This girl, I came to find, knew no strangers. She seemed to have a sort of magnetic force that drew all types of people to her. It was not her appearance or her talents that lured people to her, though she was both attractive and talented. She had an uncanny ability to bring out the best in everyone—strangers and friends alike.

Behind the bar I watched her welcome a hodgepodge of patrons ranging from the wealthy businessman, to the construction worker from across the lot; whether it was a retired Veteran planning to read the day away, or a hurried traveler just passing through, I watched an unassuming barista radiate kindness as she greeted each the same. More often than not she knew the patron by name and would ask about the kids, or that concert from last weekend, or how the test went. These interactions were less than two minutes each, but oh what she could do in such little time! “I want to be like her,” I remember thinking to myself, “but I’m simply not.”

Once the morning rush passed she turned her attention to me. I wanted so badly to win her approval, but something about her approach assured me that I didn’t have to. With a look of genuine interest, she said, “There’s something about you that I like. I want to find out what it is. Tell me about you.” To her, our external differences were not repelling, but interesting. She had charisma.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” This was the mantra of British Prime Minster, Benjamin Disraeli. In “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader”, John C. Maxwell differentiates between Mr. Disraeli and his political opponent, William Gladstone, by quoting a woman who had the opportunity to dine with each of the statesmen on consecutive evenings. She said, “When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.”

Charisma, by definition, is a compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. It seems odd then, that Maxwell insists that Disraeli was the more charismatic of the two, not Gladstone– though the woman thought him to be the cleverest man in England. The difference exists in the subtleties. While Gladstone was preoccupied convincing the woman of his riches, Disraeli focused on revealing to the woman her own riches.

In essence, charisma is being more focused on making others great than on making ourselves great. But where is there space for that sort of behavior in the era of selfies, personal branding, and self-promotion? With so many social media outlets and networking opportunities, convincing the world of how great we are can feel like a full time job.

Disraeli’s philosophy, counter cultural as it may be, makes sense. To attract people not by impressing them, but rather by highlighting their strengths, is at the very least unique and at best empowering. Everyone wants to feel validated and affirmed; this is an inherent desire in every person. Therefore, it seems only natural that we would want to be surrounded by people who pour courage into us– not flattery, but insightful exhortation. Not in a manipulative fashion, but in such a way that is free of charge.

To exude charisma in today’s society by revealing to others their riches rather than our own seems both awkward and intimidating. And to a certain degree it is awkward and intimidating, but that’s not because doing so is either of those things; it only feels this way because it is rare.

Charisma is a product of confidence– such that another’s greatnesses or differences are not threats, but rather are things to be celebrated. This confidence, the type that enables one to be charismatic, is essential to the art of being woman. It is, in essence, lovely. But a confidently charismatic woman is hard to come by in this day in age.

May we strive to be among the rare.

Because if we don’t, if the charismatic become extinct, if we pass down to our daughters the mentality that another woman’s strength is a personal threat, then we will have opportunity lost. So let us then boldly choose charisma.

Here’s to laughin’

Sarah

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