by Fern Cyr | Contributing Writer
As Power to Change celebrates its 50th anniversary, there are a multitude of stories to share. God’s faithfulness can be seen through each of these accounts. Below is one such example from Fern Cyr, Chairperson of LeaderImpact’s Calgary City Team.
I was living two different lives.
As an executive in the male-dominated industry of oil and gas, I was a driven businesswoman focused on efficiencies and profit margins. At home and in my community, I was a woman who loved family and God. No one saw my full personality.
However, when I was 30, my two worlds collided. I was pregnant, and when I shared this news with my colleagues, their response was, “Wow, I thought you were just a career woman.”
That hurt. I realized then how segmented my life had become. I hadn’t let anyone at work see my love for children, let alone my passion for Christ. In that moment, I made the conscious decision to share all of myself wherever I went.
Previously, as a woman in high-level leadership in Calgary, I chose my words and timed my comments carefully. When I began to bring my whole self to the table, however, I grew confident in sharing my values openly. I was no longer Fern, career woman—I was Fern, a woman passionate about leadership, faith, family, and fitness.
Throughout my career, positions of leadership gave me a platform as a person of faith and as a woman in the marketplace. At one point, I managed a production unit in the oil fields, which was an unusual job for a woman at the time. I also had the occasion to work as a finance director in the United Kingdom, in a culture where women rarely rose to senior positions. These opportunities to forge the way for women helped me realize that we all have untapped potential. I was a woman in a powerful position showing other women that it is possible to live out your values and succeed in the business world. As the years passed, I saw the difference I could make not only as a woman, but also as a passionate follower of Jesus.
In the corporate environment, talking about religion is taboo. I wasn’t even supposed to say “Merry Christmas” to my coworkers. As a manager, I needed to be especially careful about my words as we were expected to demonstrate compliance. However, I found a way to live out my faith at work while still following the rules: vulnerability. The more I shared about myself, the more others approached me directly about matters of faith. Once, after I introduced myself and my values to a new team, a young woman came forward to ask me for a church recommendation. Sharing my priorities opened the door to talking about faith.
Several years ago, around the time I retired from my career in the oil and gas industry, I was introduced to LeaderImpact, a ministry of Power to Change. I began connecting with other marketplace leaders in Calgary on a weekly basis about our shared passion: integrating faith and leadership.
I am a firm believer that if you commit to something, you should give it your very best. So after a year of involvement with LeaderImpact, I became the Chairperson for the Calgary City Team—a group of likeminded leaders who have a vision to transform the city of Calgary with the message of Jesus Christ.
While I had spent years leading others in the business world, LeaderImpact helped me develop as a spiritual leader. When I first became involved with the ministry, I was uncomfortable praying aloud in groups, and much prefered to pray in private conversation with God. The weekly meetings with my contemporaries helped me appreciate the power of prayer, and I became increasingly comfortable praying in public. Now, I pray with more confidence and have even been so bold as to pray with people over the phone.
My involvement with LeaderImpact has resonated deeply with my commitment to be one person everywhere. God has created each one of us with a unique purpose, and I’ve learned that part of mine is to be a strong female leader. I am passionate about helping people become more competent in their leadership capability, but more importantly, I am committed to being a leader who demonstrates the love of God.
Love is not a word often uttered in business. But if we can show love and compassion in how we act as business leaders, we can present a powerful witness of Christ without even using words.
When sharing the gospel, I’ve learned that it’s not “one size fits all.” It comes down to being mindful of who you’re talking to and their reactions. Body language is also very important. When I travelled to Columbia with LeaderImpact recently, my business background opened the door to talking to people, but it was my commitment to living out my faith wherever I went that really intrigued people and led many to commit their lives to Christ.
I have come a long way from being the woman who didn’t dare show her whole personality. Now, as I continue to share my faith with others, I pray that God will show me the way, equipping me with the right words, at the right time. I strive to live my life with care, and to show others how the love of God can change your life—not just your work life, or your home life, but your whole life.