By Zoricelis Davila
Recently I read a post on social media that said, “talking to your best friend is sometimes all the therapy you need.” I have to admit that as a therapist I know the therapeutic value of going to counseling to address issues that can only be managed with a professional. Nonetheless, in leadership and at CLLI we have experienced a therapeutic bond of a beautiful sisterhood. As Christian Latina leaders, sometimes we face many challenges such as discrimination, cultural expectations, stereotypes, and many others. These challenges present themselves with potential discouragement to continue in leadership or pressure to conform to cultural and societal norms. In times like these, we turn to our sisterhood for support, prayer, encouragement, and guidance. Those wonderful, godly, extraordinary friends and colleagues in ministry who have walked this journey before us, and/or with us.
This sisterhood is more than just a group of friends in leadership together; it is a group of godly, passionate, tenacious, compassionate and hardworking women doing ministry together. We have become more than just colleagues in ministry, we have become sisters in leadership. In psychology and counseling, there is a term called familismo referring to a cultural value that emphasizes close, warm, caring, loving, supportive family relationships.[i] The term also prioritizes family over self and it has been associated with contributing to psychological and emotional health. When we face challenges in ministry we take a hold of this value of familismo to stand firm together to support each other in the work of the Lord.
Being in leadership together means that we are always finding new ways to help other women in ministry. We plan conferences, retreats, seminars, and many other avenues to empower other Christian women leaders, Latinas and Latinas-at-heart. We share common struggles, give each other ideas, support each other during our challenges and encourage each other to achieve our highest potentials. We are all different, but we all share the same Christian values.
We have been there for each other during the loss of loved ones, academic journeys, weddings, anniversaries, births, new jobs, change of jobs, retirements, and many more life-events–all while doing ministry and being leaders in our respective areas. We have cried together, laughed together and admonished each other in love when it was necessary. In doing so we have become more effective leaders. Leadership cannot be done alone, it is a community effort. There is no way that we could have achieved all we have in this ministry had it not been for The Lord and the bond of this sisterhood called CLLI. We are more than a sisterhood, it’s a partnership, a support system, mentorship network, and a seed-bed of leaders, scholars, ministers, and collaborators in the work of the Lord.
In an era where women in leadership have been questioned or criticized, we have a sisterhood of Christian women leaders, Latinas and Latinas-at-heart, who are bonded together for the sake of Christ to make his name known. Our vision is Empowered women in leadership impacting the world from a Christian perspective. Together, we motivate each other to continue our journeys as leaders, working in our respective congregations supporting the ministry of the church to accomplish the Great Commission.
In the bible, we see a beautiful bond of sisterhood in Elizabeth and Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:39-45). Both were given the beautiful ministry of being mothers to Jesus, our Savior, and John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. At the moment that Mary was given the news of her new role, she visited her cousin Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with John. I believe that Mary needed the support of Elizabeth in a time where she must have been overwhelmed with the task at hand amid the cultural expectations. Their encounter was an affirmation from God for both that they needed to support each other in their respective ministries of motherhood.
Personally, God brought CLLI to my life in a time when I was entering a new area of leadership as a professional counselor. CLLI was my “Elizabeth.” Although I have always been a leader in my church, this time God was calling me into a broader ministry beyond the walls of my church. God used CLLI to open doors to publish books for our Latino community to bring healing to families. God also used this ministry to develop my leadership skills as a board member, faculty, and mentor. Then God called me to achieve a doctorate and continue to empower other leaders through the counseling ministry. I could not have accomplished any of this had it not been for the therapeutic bond of the sisterhood of CLLI in my life. These ladies have all been “Elizabeth” to me.
Leadership can be difficult at times, but it can also bring much joy. God can take you to arenas never explored before and God could be calling you right now into an area of leadership in ministry that may seem overwhelming. Please know, God never intends for us to go through life or ministry alone. God surrounds us with a sisterhood that can empower us, support us, bring healing and refreshment to encourage us in our journey. At CLLI we have a special bond that has carried us in moments of trials, suffering, challenges, joy, and many accomplishments. We would have never been able to do it by ourselves. Come join us and be a part of this wonderful bond of sisterhood in leadership. There is no other group that I would rather do ministry with than my sisters at CLLI, being together is therapeutic. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
[i]Campos, B., Ullman, J. B., Aguilera, A., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2014). Familism and psychological health: the intervening role of closeness and social support. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034094
Dr. Zoricelis Dávila, Ph.D., LPC-S, is a Licensed Profesional Counselor Supervisor with 17 years of experience. She has a private practice in Fort Worth, TX serving the Latino community. Dr. Davila serves on the board of CLLI and as faculty member. She is also an International speaker, author, and a Professor of Counseling.