“Go for it! Use your gifts!”
The journey that led Diane Paddison to found 4word women is the focus of her 2011 book, Work, Love, Pray, and God has had even more in store for her and 4word in the years since the book’s publication. We recently caught up with Diane and learned how God has been at work in her second-half journey as of late.
4word women’s vision is to create a global community of Christian women in the workplace, and it is well on its way to realizing that vision in full. 4word initially bridged a gap for working women by providing strong and supportive female mentors. “We help Christian working women know that they are not alone, that they don’t have to feel isolated in their corporate environments,” says Diane. “Some have described it as ‘moving from the desert to water.’”
The Mentor Program offers professional women the unique opportunity to receive guidance and perspective from more experienced Christian women who truly care about work-life-spiritual balance. The impact for both mentors and mentees is tremendous. “The most important thing I learned from my mentor was that we’d be following God’s plan, and that’s when I really saw a difference,” states one mentee who has benefitted from 4word women’s strong program. One mentor shares, “It is a blessing to help a less experienced woman balance her life and make decisions that enhance her both professionally and spiritually.”
Today, the organization continues to expand its services and reach. Local support and connection groups are active in 22 cities, one of which is international (Guatemala). 4word offers digital content that reaches and inspires over 100,000 women worldwide each year.
Currently, 71% of U.S. women with children under 18 years of age work outside the home. With busy lives and stretched schedules, many begin to feel isolated and even more aren’t sure how to integrate their Christian beliefs into their everyday worlds. 4word women’s mentors and local connection groups extend a helping hand. “Where I went looking for solutions to my business, I found solutions to my marriage problems,” says one 4word mentee.
4word women has hit several key milestones over the past couple of years. Diane glows as she exclaims that in 2016, “God worked three miracles for us, miracles that were not in the business plan!” First, the opportunity to establish a local support group in New York City, a somewhat daunting city to enter. Second, the first international group in Guatemala. Diane says, “I received an email with a picture of a lovely group of women seated at lunch, each with a copy of my book. I wondered what city they were in…and discovered it was Guatemala City!” The 4word organization is elated to have an international local support group now established.
The third miracle was that churches started to reach out to Diane and 4word. Initially, churches had not been interested in 4word’s resources, so Diane moved in other directions. “When I mentioned this to Bob Buford a few years ago,” she recalls, “he advised me not to go where doors were closed” because so many other doors were opening. However, things have changed over the past couple of years and 4word is excited about partnering with churches through speaking engagements, Bible and book studies, links to digital content and to the Mentor Program – especially given recent surveys that show that working women are leaving traditional churches because they don’t feel included or understood. Pastors that have reached out to partner with 4word have found that women in the workplace are seeking to get more engaged in their churches.
Now, in 2017, God has opened a door with growing demand for 4word’s content in Spanish, so translations are in process. A women’s year-long prayer devotional book, Be Refreshed, will be published in November, and more local groups continue to open in cities across the United States. And there’s more…looking ahead to February 2018, the 4word annual gala will feature the Bush sisters, Jenna and Barbara, as keynote speakers, sharing stories of growing up in the White House. 4word Advisory Board member, Charity Wallace, will serve as the moderator, as she was there with the sisters as part of Former First Lady Laura Bush’s Senior Staff. “We are so blessed!” says Diane.
Diane is a 2009 Halftime Institute alumna who left the full-time corporate world in 2009, though continuing to consult while forming 4word. In 2014, she fully dedicated her professional time to 4word. Today, Diane is in high demand as a columnist. What excites Diane is seeing a woman “believe what she cannot see about herself,” then, through 4word women, helping her reach her God-given potential with confidence, ultimately impacting women’s lives around the globe.
Looking back on her own journey, what would Diane say to other Halftimers?
“First,” she says with a smile, “just breathe! Learn your passions but don’t worry if you don’t know what to do with them yet. Then go for it! Use your gifts!”
You can learn even more about Diane’s journey through this video:
For more information about 4word women, watch the videos below: