Popular for authoring bestsellers like ”Secrets of an Irresistible Woman”, “The Diva Principle”, ”Sassy, Single and Satisfied”; Emmy Award-Winning TV Host, International Speaker, Visionary & Leader of Relevance Ministries, Singer/Songwriter, Actress, Life & Relationship Coach is a phenomenon. Michelle is driven by a need to empower and transform men and women all over the world to live and love to their fullest potential by equipping them with insights, clarity and strategies. She shares with Leading Ladies Africa her perspective on purpose, feminism and female empowerment.
All over the world, you are known as a Writer, Speaker, Preacher and Motivational speaker. Introduce us to the Michelle most people don’t know.
I was born in London, England to a mother from Barbados, West Indies and a father from Ghana, West Africa. Lived and grew up in Barbados and the US. So I am a bit of a citizen of the world. I am traditional but a bit quirky in the sense that I tend to be a bit of a spiritual rebel. I am fiercely passionate about my relationship with God. I love being a change agent in peoples lives. My life is very crowded but I also enjoy my alone time. I love anything that makes me laugh, my dogs and really good food.
Let’s talk about growing up- Would you say your experiences as a child prepared you for what you do right now? How so?
Perhaps traveling as I did and living in all sectors prepared me for understanding people. I loved to read and write as a child and I truly think that was a divine setup for what I do now. I also had a great love for theatre which prepared me for speaking in front of people! So I was definitely trained up in the way I would go and I haven’t departed from it. My parents allowed me to discover and operate in my gifts and gave me freedom to experience creative expression which has played out in all the things I do now from writing, to singing, to acting and preaching.
With our generation, there seems to be a Christian pop culture, being Christian is now the cool thing. How would you advise a young Christian who is trying to get it right with God. What should she look out for?
She should look for authenticity. She should seek those who are serious about their relationship with God and living out the Word. The word “Christian” means “imitator of Christ.” If their lives are not reflecting godliness she should find new friends because they will have a negative effect on her walk with Christ. Our lives tend to look like that of the 5 closest people to us. So you decide what you want your life to look like by who you associate with.
Let’s talk about Purpose- all your books are undergirded in the belief that an understanding of God’s Purpose for one’s life is the central thing in life. How would you define purpose and how did you discover yours?
Purpose is what you were created to do in the mind of God. Who you were created to be. One has to examine the things that resonate with them, that they are passionate about to find the key to the area of life they need to be addressing and gifts they are supposed to be utilizing. Prayerfully taking God’s counsel and direction for what avenues to pursue and develop into a viable way of life or career. Ultimately whatever you do should be fueled by your passion and enjoyment. It should bless others and make provision for you.
Your book “Secrets of an Irresistible Woman” shares rather extensively on a woman “being” rather than “doing”. Why is “being” so important?
Who you are affects what you do. Many live a lie that ultimately gets exposed or renders one frustrated and disappointed with life.God has told us to “Be” holy. Which refers to wholeness. Wholeness keeps us resistant to temptation. Holiness follows wholeness. So being in Him as opposed to putting on an act and doing a million things to prove a point is actually simpler. At the end of the day it is the companion of confidence and rest.
20’s are arguably the defining period of a woman’s life- there is so much calling for her attention. Professional pursuits, settling down and getting married etc. If you were to advise a young woman in her 20’s what will you tell her?
Don’t give in to the tyranny of the urgent. Consider the choices you are making because they have long term effects. The things that cut so deep today will seem trivial in the future. You won’t really come into your own until you are about 40! What matters at 40 and over is totally different. The older you get the more comfortable with yourself you become and it changes your perspective on a lot of things.
Can you share some life changing decisions you made in your formative years that you are most grateful for?
The first one of course is my decision to have a relationship with Jesus. But I also pursued using all my gifts. Not being afraid to move and pursue what I wanted. Being open to experiences that changed my life for the better. I am grateful for the mentors I had in my life at that time that helped me make wise choices. I am also glad for the mistakes I made. I learned from them timeless lessons. Working at Burrell Communications in the States was on of the best training grounds for everything that I do now!
Certainly, your life as a woman of impact hasn’t been a walk in the park. You have had your fair share of challenges. Can you share some challenges/fears you encountered on your journey and how you overcame them?
I had a major physical challenge when I was hit by a car and bed-ridden for almost a year and half. Learning to walk again and reclaiming my mobility was difficult. I lost the man I loved at 21 to gun violence. I have been fired and rehired from a job.-haha. Gone through difficult financial times. I’ve been intimidated by others greats in ministry, feeling why am I here and what do I have to offer when sharing the same platform. But God has made me aware of my own unique brand of me. I am the only one who can do what I do and He has chosen me to deliver a specific message in a specific way so I rest in that. The fact that it is not about me, it is about what I was created and called to do and to glorify God. Every trial and experience I’ve had good or bad gives me more ammunition to do what I do in an effective manner.
Michelle, there is a heightened pursuit for fulfillment in this generation than the last and for most women, they believe marriage is the single most defining thing. This is further amplified by media projections and societal benchmarks of what should count as fulfillment for women. Do you think marriage brings fulfillment? Moreso, does a woman have to get married to fulfill purpose?
Marriage should never be a goal. It should be inspired by someone coming into your life and making you better than you were before meeting them. Marriage is hard work and calls for a different brand of dying to yourself that most people don’t think about. It is neither validation or an accomplishment. It is only an accomplishment when you have succeeded in keeping it together long term. Women should not give into the pressure to be validated by someone else. Our ultimate affirmation comes from God Himself. He defines who we are. He is the one that gives us value. Marriage has nothing to do with purpose but it can definitely kill it if you marry the wrong person. The Bible says it was the man who needed the woman to complete His assignment from God. Women do what they do naturally. They nurture purpose wherever they go!
Digressing a bit what do you think about Feminism and Female Empowerment. Can a woman be Feminist and be Christian? Are they mutually exclusive or inclusive?
In light of the fact that in Christ there is no male or female, Greek or Jew I question the purpose of feminism and “female empowerment”. I ask the question empowered to do what? Everyone needs to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s call on their lives. No other motive should come into play. God gives the ability to gain wealth and promotion and elevation comes from Him so why do we need to flex as women when God will flex for us? The term feminism has been so perverted I don’t think it aligns itself with Christianity. The art of femininity has been lost as women take life and matters into their own hands and posture themselves like men which always results in resistance. If we walk in wisdom and excellence everything we want can be ours. No one argues with excellence or wisdom. Everybody is willing to pay for those two things. Women are natural problems solvers but I think the world has distracted women from the real point and rendered them to be ineffective victims. This was never God’s design.
Your itinerant speaking career has exposed you to diverse women from different walks of life. In your own experience, what would you say is the greatest challenge of women?
The greatest challenge of women no matter where they are in the world is matters of the heart. The challenge to be validated in and of themselves by God and God alone. that coupled with the expectations for them to produce and be all things to all people. It is a tremendous amount of pressure that is false obligation at best. The only one who can be all things to all people is God. Women need to understand what their assignment is in the season and the purpose of the season so they can rest, enjoy their lives and allow it to unfold. We don’t have to control anything, but the lie that we do is always being whispered in our ears. Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light which suggests that if we are experiencing heaviness and life being hard that we’ve taken on more than what God has given us to deal with. Life is never easy but He gives grace for what ever hardships are necessary. The same grace is not there for problems we cause ourselves.
Let’s talk about mentoring, how has mentoring shaped the woman you have become? Can you share some women that have had the greatest impact on you?
I had some tough women speaking into my life. They still do! They were foundational to my walk in Christ. They were no nonsense and serious about holiness and the discipline of being a Christian and fulfilling purpose. I know I am who I am today because of them. Terri McFaddin Solomon, P.B. Wilson, Deniece Mitchell, Dorothy Ross, Charlotte Kroot, are amazing women who walked the talk and accepted nothing less.
What do you look out for before mentoring young women? I rarely mentor women because it is a lifetime commitment and requires all of you. I think the word mentor has been sadly misused today. Mentorship is discipleship. The disciples lived with and served Jesus. They forsook all to follow Him. He spoke into their lives and illustrated the lifestyle He called them to embrace and replicate. Today mentorship has been reduced to an hour and tea or a conference, but that is not true mentorship because you can put on any face and tell me anything at a chance meeting. But when I get to look at your life on a longterm basis I earn the right to speak into your life and I see you as you truly are. That is true transparency and accountability. I don’t look for women to mentor. I believe it has to be an assignment. She needs to know she is assigned as much as I do. She has to have a heart to learn and serve. That is what puts you in the position for impartation and transformation. It will not always be easy or pleasant because correction never is. But when yielded to the results are amazing and worth the challenges.
What counts as success for you? Simple– transformed lives.
What would you like to be remembered for? My passionate relationship with God and a legacy of transformed lives.
The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa; an initiative that seeks to effectively mentor and inspire women, with particular emphasis on the African continent.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we just might feature her.