I want to start off by sharing why I invited my friend Christine Caine to share about living a life unafraid. Years back, I was brand new to public ministry, and I definitely had a lot of fear. I was probably the biggest wimp you've ever met. And when I met Christine, I had been praying, Lord, bring someone to help me with my fear. I feel like she is my courage coach. She was running so far out in front of me that it made me believe that I could do more than I could at that time. I come from a part of the church that questions women and public gifts so there just weren't as many role models for me. But Christine was someone who was out front running so fast and so hard and wasn't asking permission about it. She was just obeying God. And I think what has happened for a lot of us behind her is we've just watched her set a pace that has changed our lives and has made us more and more fearless. I'm not the same wimp I was years ago. And I think Christine is a big part of that.
Because Christine is one of the most fearless people I know, I want to start with the question, has she ever been scared?
"I love that you ask that because sometimes I've heard people say, you know, Christine, you either speak with such certitude, or you seem so confident, or you seem so fearless. I sometimes wonder why that's the case because anyone that is close to me would certainly know that along the way I consistently have to deal with my fears and my doubts in order to do the thing that God has called me to do. So I think what it comes down to is it's not that I don't have fear or that I am fearless, it's that I've learned to do things afraid. And how I've learned to do that is, ultimately, I have learned to place what I do know about God above what I don't know about the future or what I might not understand about people. And as you trust God more and as you grow in that, even when you're feeling feelings of fear, you do know deep down ultimately that God is good, that God does good, and he's going to work all things together for good.
So normally our fears have to do with the 'what ifs'. Like, what if this doesn't work? What if this person hates me? What if this? What if that? So you have to get to a place where you place what you do know about God above what you don't know about the future. Now that takes time, but it has resulted in me being able to take more risks of faith.
It's not an absence of fear-it's just that I know fear doesn't come from God because scripture says God has not given us a spirit of fear. So when I feel the fear, I do it anyway. Sometimes I literally say out loud, God, this fear that I'm feeling is not from you because you have not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. So if I don't have love, power or a sound mind happening, I know that fear is behind that. I have to make what I know about God bigger than the fear that I'm feeling in my emotions and my body. But it wouldn't be true to say that I never feel fear because I do."
Next, I talk with my courage coach about what it truly means when God tells us to "take courage".
"I don't know that you pay me a higher compliment than calling me your courage coach because that's what I want to be. The Lord said to Joshua in Joshua chapter one-be strong and very courageous. This is something we see throughout scripture all the time. It's something you have to proactively take and put on, which denotes in and of itself then that we would not be feeling courageous most of the time because we have to take courage, take heart, be strong, be very courageous. It's like this conscious thing I have to tell myself. If I didn't do that, there would be no A21. I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing if at every point I didn't have to choose courage over fear or faith over fear. And I think that's the Christian journey.
The enemy sends the spirit of fear because he doesn't want us to be fruitful. It is to our Father's great glory that we bear much fruit, but you will never bear fruit if you do not walk forward in faith despite the fear. I think we're waiting for the fear to go away when in fact it doesn't. Now you have different fears as you grow in courage and strength. I still write things out on sticky notes like scriptures on my mirror and say literally out loud now, Christine, you remember God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and of sound mind, and greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Christine, you can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you. I mean, I literally stick them up, say them out loud, and have to remind myself as much as anything else because the enemy wants to take us out. There is an enemy and he has one goal to steal, kill, and destroy. And the way that he does that is by paralyzing and crippling people with fear."
Fear in this Generation
Christine and I shift the conversation to talking about how prevalent anxiety is right now and what she sees in this generation.
"It is so prevalent. I've got a daughter in middle school, and I've got a daughter in high school. My daughter's friends come over, and it is extremely sobering to see how many of them are really struggling and on medication and missing school and just have deep-seated anxiety. So I think that shows you just how prevalent this is, and there is something going on in our culture when we are seeing astronomical rises in anxiety rates amongst teenage girls and boys. We're seeing it everywhere. So both as a mother and as a minister, I'm pressing pause and going, what is going on Lord? There is no doubt that it has always been in our culture, but I don't know that it's ever been in our culture to the degree that it is. I think obviously some of that has got to do with the fact that young people have access to the news 24/7. Some people definitely need medication in order to be able to cope with what's going on. For me, the scripture from Philippians: Christine, be anxious for nothing, but in everything with thanksgiving, prayer, and supplication make your requests known to God, and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart. I don't want to diminish the power of that.
Now here is the challenge, even as a Christian minister-we're living in a world where we are talking so much more openly about mental health, and we are speaking about anxiety and depression, and we in the church need to make it a safe place. We need to discuss these things. We need to garner the help of psychologists and psychiatrists, and we need to thank God for the medical professionals and everything that God uses to bring healing and wholeness because he uses all of it in that mix. I don't think it's going to help anyone if we become dismissive of scripture for fear that we are just saying to people, we'll just pray a prayer, quote a scripture and you'll be okay. We know that people are not okay, but that doesn't at all diminish the power of the word to bring healing, to bring wholeness, and to bring a sense of peace.
I take very seriously the responsibility to keep my mind healthy. So there are a lot of things I never look at on social media. There are a lot of blogs that I never ever look at. I am the gatekeeper of my mind. I am extremely careful about what I listen to, about what I read because if I am lax in any of those areas, I could be scrolling my way through Instagram or Twitter and end up physically feeling my heart rate change. I can physically feel a change begin to happen in my body, and I have chosen to arrest that thing really early on because I've got enough in my normal everyday life that could cause me serious stress and anxiety."
I love the boundaries Christine has in place to guard her heart and mind. Next, I want to hear more about some of her other stops when she can tell something isn't producing good fruit.
"God has given us the capacity to endure in this day and not just endure, but to have an abundant life. Jesus said, I came that you might have life and life more abundant. I'm consistently asking myself, Christine, what does abundant living look like in a very hopeless, fearful, anxious world? And so for me, I know that if I'm looking through things and I can physically feel my body start to change, my mind, my thinking-all of a sudden I'm finding doubt or unbelief. You've got to listen to your emotions. Before I went on my feed, was I feeling more hopeful, more faithful, more believing God than when I got on it? If so, what did I read that actually started to make me feel less than or started to diminish me? And it might have nothing to do with what the person wrote, but it's my interpretation of it. So you're not going to find me on social media bantering or arguing or doing whatever because I'm just not wired up to be able to do that. It so depletes me.
I want to fill people with faith. I want to fill people with hope and courage. Now, courage to me does not cripple and paralyze you. Courage activates you. So I'm finding anything that I feel cripples me, paralyzes me, makes me feel less than, or if my anger is going to cause other people to shut down, to be crippled, to be paralyzed, then I'm not doing what God has asked me to do. I have to understand that, if I just shoot something off without thinking on social media, as many people as the Lord's given me the power to help and the ability to help, I can harm that many people, as well. So I'm very conscious of all of that."
I want to end talking with Christine about what she understands about God and scripture that allows her to run out front without this fear of messing it up.
"I love that question because I think that's what often stops us. I hear constantly, Christine, I don't want to take any glory away from God. And some of these things are quite healthy. Pride is the sin that caused the enemy to be cast out of heaven so it's a big deal. But here's the thing, on my best day I do not have the capacity to take the one inch of God's glory. It wouldn't matter if I wanted to. If your God is that small, that you could take one inch of God's glory, then your God is way too small. And here's the deal. When we talk about glory, obviously it is to our father's great glory that we bear much fruit. So living small, minimal lives, how does bring great glory to God? I'm not saying spectacular lives. I'm not talking about an Instagram worthy life. I'm talking about a life that is less than entirely fruitful for you, whatever that would be.But ultimately, I pray that I can live a life that brings great glory to God, and the best way I can bring great glory to God is not by minimizing myself, but it's by being extremely fruitful. Therefore, we need to do what we can so that we can flourish, and we can be fruitful.
If you look at the spies in Numbers 13, the Lord had already told them in the book of Exodus, I've given you the promised land. The Lord was not asking them if they could take the land. It was already a done deal. He says, go in and possess what I've already given you. But then, of course 10 of the 12 came back with a negative report. So this shows you unbelief and a negative report will keep an entire generation out of their destiny. And so my thing is when people go, well Christine, you've got a positive confession. It's because I know the power of a negative condition to keep a generation of their destiny. That is why you will only see me speak life, tweet life, and post life because I truly believe what I'm telling you. And so in today's vernacular we'd be saying that's prideful. I'm like, what do you mean that's prideful? God said it. So I don't see myself as a worm. I see myself as a daughter of the King, filled with God, given destiny, given potential, created in the image of God, empowered by the spirit of God to do the works of God on this earth. Because my hope is rooted in eternity and not in my circumstances, and Jesus already has the victory, no matter what pain or suffering or injustice or hurt or situation that I have, I'm still full of hope because I'm coming at it from the lens of eternal victory, not temporal defeat. That doesn't mean you deny the reality of your circumstances, but you have the strength to walk through with courage despite the pain and the suffering and the hurt. You don't have to be taken out by fear and doubt and anxiety. You could still come at it from the lens of, yes, there are giants. That's Joshua and Caleb-they had giants in the promised land. They didn't deny the giants. They did not deny the enemies, but they chose to see it from the lens of victory that God had already given them."