Yes, Christian Women Can Overcome Hurdles to Become Leaders
Georgialee Lang went from heroin addict to leading lawyer, thanks to God and drive.
Her legal career started at the wrong end: Prison. After a tough upbringing, she fell into abusing drugs with a boyfriend as a teenager. One thing led to another, and she ended up serving a nine-month sentence for heroin possession.
Now Georgialee Lang has been being recognized as one of The Best Lawyers in Canada. For the past 12 years. How did that happen?
How She Changed Her Life
She tells the story in a new book she edited, Faith, Life & Leadership. She also tells the stories of seven other Christian women who overcame resistance to become leaders. Subjects include Lorna Dueck, CEO of Crossroads Global Media Group, and former Member of Parliament Joy Smith.
It wasn’t easy. After she left prison, Lang kept clean, but for years had to work low-paying jobs. A new boyfriend, a Vancouver police officer, dumped her when he found she had served time in prison.
She started attending church. A seed planted in her from attending church at a young age helped bring her back. “I started crying out to God,” she says. She wanted to turn her life around, but “I couldn’t have done it on my own. It was all about God rescuing me.”
While waitressing, Lang met a waitress with a college degree. It dawned on her that she wasn’t much smarter than herself. At age 30, she registered for college. She studied hard and four years later graduated with the highest marks in her class. Her boyfriend reunited with her.
Then she took an even bigger risk. She started law school at the University of British Columbia. There she discovered, “You may be incredibly gifted, but without long hours and hard work your superior skills will be for naught.” She graduated from law school at age 35.
It wasn’t all smooth going from there on. When Lang asked one of her law professors about dealing with her past going forward as an attorney, he disdainfully asked her how she possibly thought she was suitable for the practice of law.
Still Not Smooth Going
Nevertheless, Lang overcame the odds. She embarked upon a successful career in family law, becoming a popular guest on TV shows. Her alma mater invited her to become an adjunct professor. She taught students family law for six years.
But even then, it wasn’t smooth going. She couldn’t completely escape her past. She was diagnosed with Hepatitis C from her teenage drug use. At that time, there was no cure. It was considered a fatal disease. She got into a pilot project with drugs that might cure the disease, but the treatment took a big toll on her strength and health. It almost cost her her ability to perform her job.
The experience gave Lang a compassion for the less fortunate. She opened up a pro bono law firm for those who cannot afford a family law attorney. Lawyer’s fees can run tens of thousands of dollars. Because of this, she’s written, “many Canadians wander alone into family court like sheep to the slaughter.”
Her career continued to rise. She appeared three times as counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada.
She took on an effort to end legalized prostitution, a rare and gutsy position for an attorney. Next, she defended Trinity Western University’s attempt to start a private Christian law school. That was another rare and gutsy move. Radical legal activists claimed the school’s rule against premarital sex discriminated against LGBT people. The case is now winding its way up to Canada’s Supreme Court.
Lately, Lang has championed shared parenting. She wrote, “Separating parents, usually fathers, are caught in a black vortex, fighting for the ability to remain an active part of their children’s lives, sparring with mothers who too frequently use their hurt and anger to alienate their partners from their children.”
Lang joined Leading Women For Shared Parenting. She is now one of its most vocal members. The Canadian TV show “100 Huntley Street” describes Lang as “the lawyer who has fought for more issues about family, than … anyone else in Canada.”
She Was Not That Person
Lang never dreamed she could overcome her problems to become a leader. “I always believed that leadership was reserved for the intellectuals, the emotionally secure, and the ones who grew up in a ‘good’ family,” she writes, “awash with business and community connections, surrounded by people who could open doors as they were mentored and encouraged.”
In fact, she discovered the opposite. “I’m convinced that the bad decisions I made in my late teens and early twenties gave me the motivation, drive, and frankly, the desperation to pick myself up and show the world that I was not that person.”
Lang credits her recovery in part to her energy and passion. “Is it possible to be a visionary leader without passion?” she asks. “Resoundingly no!” But passion isn’t enough by itself. Lang reminds us what the Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”