Gina Jones leads by knowing where she stands. It’s not a pedestal. It’s more of a trench. And it’s called servant leadership.
Different than a leader who may seek self-empowerment, a servant leader seeks to empower others. This is how the speaker, writer, coach, and teacher builds stronger people and communities.
She commented, “I am strong when I realize I don’t have to be. I know there’s something stronger than me – the Lord. My strength comes from realizing how small and unworthy I am. My place in this world only exists if I’m in line with what God wants me to do,” she said.
In a Word
Three years ago, at a John Maxwell Training session, Gina started a tradition of choosing one word for the year to keep her focused on God’s plan for her life.
This year, the word is “alignment”. “It means being obedient. To be obedient means to get out of the way and let God work in your life. When I do this, I have the most peace,” Gina said.
In her bi-weekly column for the Herald Standard newspaper, Gina shares her journey and how it aligns with her faith. “I’ve been writing a lot about what it means to be a Christian. It’s been tested a lot with different relationships this year as I decide if I want to maintain them. Being obedient sometimes means letting go.”
And sometimes it means holding on.
Strength Lives Here
Gina remarked, “I’m an only parent – always the caregiver, hugger, bread winner. This has made me strong. Even when I don’t want to…I have to get up the next day. I’ve got someone else to live for and what I do affects that person.
I can’t imagine who I’d be without my son, Christian. What I have up in my office is this framed note he made for me. That’s where my strength lives – not in the awards I’ve received.”
Finding the Answer
Through her consulting and training company, GMarie Productions, Gina has made a business out of making others stronger.
She commented, “I am not more gifted than the next person. I just ask the right questions. I don’t offer advice. Instead, I ask them questions and they find that they have the right answer.”
One example Gina shared was a client, working on her doctorate degree, who was asked to submit a proposal to a school district. She spoke about the challenges with the work she would be doing and said she was willing to do it for no money. “I asked her, ‘Why do you not want to be paid? What is the history of the school’s follow-through record? Will they give you what you need to help them reach their goals? How much time and energy do you want to invest in them and this project?’ Her client came to realize that she wasn’t placing a value on her time and that this particular project wasn’t a good fit for her.
In Luke 17:21, it says, ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ We all have the answers within us.”
Those answers can come, Gina said, when we are accountable – whether it is to God, ourselves, or others.
She remarked, “I want to tell the truth. When I was asked to write for the Herald, I made the request to not be edited. I know the power of the pen – the platform of the pen. It had to be of Him.
When I was younger, I would say what I felt without consideration of what the other person felt. I’ve lost family and peers over it. I learned along the way that you can be honest with a compassionate heart. God gave me that blessing.
And I can forgive. I ask others, ‘How are you going to let anger and frustration in your heart or brain when they are renting space and not paying for it?’”
Gina believes so strongly in empowering young people to find those right answers that she served as one of three mentors for “Making a Change” (MAC,) an after school program at Uniontown Area High School.
MAC offers mentoring and resources to girls, ages 12-18, to help them avoid destructive behavior while building strong character. So far, the group has performed 1,000 hours of community service and partnered with 35 leaders and organizations. There is so much support for the club that it may be replicated in other schools.
More girls will have a chance to experience MAC with an event Gina is co-hosting on September 26th. MAC4G is a 12 hour Lock-In event to teach leadership, service and faith to teenage girls. A second event will be held this spring for teenage boys.
A portion of proceeds from both events will benefit “Lillian’s Legacy”, a Fayette County Philanthropy Project Gina started to honor her late grandmother, Lillian Capozza. This fund will support youth leadership, career development and change opportunities for teenagers.
Helping people of all ages rise above so that they can be successful is what this servant leader does to stay in line with God’s plan for her life. And it’s how Gina helps to build stronger communities – one person at a time.