Identity. We are living in a generation in the midst of an identity crisis – but today’s guest, author and speaker Priscilla Shirer says we don’t have to struggle. Listen in as we discuss why knowing who we are in Christ can be the source of the victory we’re longing for.
Transcribed version of the podcast is below
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Matthew 7:17-20
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- Heidi’s Upcoming Events
- MomStrong International
- Scripture Writing Challenge
- Overcomer the movie with Pricilla Shirer
- Radiant by Priscilla Shirer
- Defined by Priscilla Shirer (Bible Study Companion)
- Going Beyond Ministries
Scripture Mentioned in Podcast
- Colossians 3:9-10
- Ephesians 1
- Ephesians 2
Join us at MomStrong International for our Bible Study and Scripture Writing!
Priscilla Shirer is an international speaker and Bible teacher, New York Times bestselling author, and actress with credits including the movie WAR ROOM, which was the #1 movie in America its second weekend in theaters, and 2018’s smash hit I CAN ONLY IMAGINE. She and her husband, Jerry, lead Going Beyond Ministries, which provides spiritual support and resources to the body of Christ.
This podcast is brought to you by the HSJ CONFERENCE held in Lees Summit, MO Saturday Aug 24
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the Heidi St, John podcast. Today is Friday, August 23rd. This is episode number 809 coming to you from Kansas City. This is also meet My Friend Friday and here today I’ve got a very special guest on the show with me, author and Speaker Priscilla Shirer is here to talk about her new movie and why discipleship of a new generation is more important than ever.
Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
Before we get started today, I’ve got a couple of announcements. First of all, thanks for listening to the podcast and for sharing it and leaving reviews over at iTunes. We’re thrilled to see how God is growing the platform. But, more exciting to me is hearing the stories of listeners who are getting off the bench and onto the battlefield and really engaging with the culture around them for the sake of the gospel. I love to hear your stories. You can send them to me email@example.com. Also coming up, I’m going to be in Lee’s Summit, Missouri—just outside of Kansas City—for the Heidi St. John Conference. This year’s theme is Miracle Worker: The Life Changing Power Of Following Jesus. Tickets are still available at the door. We’re asking that you arrive early to make sure that you get a great spot. We’re going to start at 9:00 AM with worship, and then I’ll be diving right into teaching after that. We cannot wait to see you.
For those of you who aren’t in the Lee’s Summit area, I’ll be in Fredericksburg, Virginia on September 14th and in Vancouver, Washington, my hometown, October 12th. Then on October 19th I’ll be in Lincoln, Nebraska. These are all Heidi St. John Conference dates. We’re in the middle of our study on Integrity at MomStrong International and we’re growing every day. You can download the free Scripture Writing Challenge and sign up to study with us at MomStrongInternational.com.
Without further ado, I’m thrilled today to introduce you to a new friend that I’ve made. I’ve been a fan of Priscilla Shirer for years and what I really appreciate about her is her unwavering commitment to rightly divide God’s Word. She is encouraging tens of thousands of women and men with her speaking. She is a busy mom. She’s a well known Bible teacher and a conference speaker, the founder of Going Beyond Ministries and a New York Times best selling author. Most of you guys are familiar with Priscilla and she’s got a brand new movie coming out: Overcomer. It out in theaters today. You guys, that’s today and it’s being brought to you by the same team that brought us War Room. You guys have been listening to me for a long time. You know how much I loved that movie. I hope you’ll go see it. Priscilla and her husband Jerry live in Dallas, Texas with their three sons. Priscilla, welcome to the show.
[Priscilla] Hi, thanks so much for having me. I’m glad to be here.
[Heidi] So you’re a busy lady. I’ve got a lot of questions for you today. Thanks for taking the time to come on the show with me. I know lots and lots of moms listen to this and they’re all doing what you’re doing—they’re schooling their kids and trying to get it all done. You have three boys, right?
[Priscilla] I sure do.
[Heidi] And how, how old are they?
[Priscilla] They are 16, 15, and 10.
[Heidi] Right on. You’re in the vortex. You got the teenage thing going on.
[Priscilla] Oh yes.
[Heidi] And so you started out as a Bible teacher, right? You went to seminary there in Dallas, is that right?
[Priscilla] Yes, I did.
[Heidi] How did you go from Bible teacher to acting in films? Because I imagine there’s a story.
[Priscilla] Well, it’s a very quick story, to be honest. It’s never anything in my wildest dreams that I would’ve ever considered, or planned for, or strategize for. When I look back on it, most of everything that the Lord has brought to our lives and entrusted to us in ministry, isn’t something that I could have ever imagined. This is no different. One day I got a call from the Kendrick brothers. They called my husband and I remember we were driving down the road. We had him on speaker phone and they said— listen, we are writing a movie on prayer and the main character is Elizabeth Jordan. Every time we’re writing lines for her, we are thinking to ourselves—what would Priscilla say? So we’ve been writing the whole movie that way and it just occurred to us that we should call you and ask you to do it.
When they said that me—my initial response right off the bat was, I said: no, are you kidding me? I’m not an actress. That’s not what I do. I’m in ministry. They said— well, Priscilla, we want you to pray about it. When you read the script, which we’re going to send you, I think you’ll discover it’s not a movie. It is ministry. So now that we’ve seen War Room, people who have seen it might’ve been entertaining as well, but it’s really ministry—and that’s what the Kendrick brothers are doing. They’re just preaching on a big screen and hoping to really affect the hearts of people for the glory of God.
[Heidi] Yeah, well War Room definitely had that effect all around the country. The thing that’s cool to me about your story, and getting into movies, and what the Kendrick brothers are doing is— it kind of shows us that God’s always in the business of reinventing how the gospel gets shared. And it’s a different generation and you guys are reaching a brand new generation of people with the message of the gospel, doing it through movies and through books. Something that I’ve been passionate about here at the podcast for many years is looking at a generation that is desperate. They are desperately in need of Christians who are mature in their faith, who will come alongside and mentor them and disciple them. This is something you guys are really hitting. You’re hitting on this in the movie Overcomer. Why would you say that discipleship and mentoring is more important now than it’s ever been?
[Priscilla] Well, because so much transformation happens one on one and we need community. We need the breadth of the body of Christ in a corporate setting, but also is only so deep you can go in a corporate setting. But when I’m sitting across from you over a cup of coffee and when we’re engaged in each other’s lives and the nuances of each other’s daily lives— well now I get to interact with you, hold you accountable, encourage you when you’re down. There is an insight and reach into your life that cannot happen unless you have someone willing to pour into you and you having a willingness to be vulnerable with someone else.
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s right. What do you say to the person who’s listening to this right now, and they can see discipleship opportunities around them, but they don’t feel equipped. Let’s say they’re just like—well, I don’t know… I haven’t been walking with the Lord my whole life…I’m new in the Lord…I’ve only been walking with the Lord for a couple of years. If a person like that wants to a disciple, somebody else, can they do it?
[Priscilla] Oh, I absolutely think they can because discipleship is not just about a Scriptural knowledge or something. Discipleship is about leading, meaning that your example is still one worth following if you’re honoring God with your actions. It doesn’t mean you have everything together. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect. You can still be working stuff out in your life, and in fact that can be some of the most powerful mentoring when they get to see that you’re not perfect, that you actually are still working through things just like they are — that you need a Savior your just as much as they do.
I love the authenticity that is provided when you have a mentor that says—listen, let me tell you my pitfalls from when I was 20 and 18 and 25 and then 30, the stuff that I did that I shouldn’t have done and I wish I would have known better. I’m willing to show you my scars so that you don’t have to have the same ones.
[Heidi] Yeah, it’s so good. It’s that authenticity. I started blogging maybe 15 years ago, and I was trying to give mom’s encouragement. I was talking about crockpots, things that I was doing in the midst of raising seven children. One day I forgot to plug the crockpot in and I was talking about this great recipe, and my husband was coming home from the church and we were going to have chicken. About three o’clock in the afternoon I was like— why does my house not smell like chicken enchilada? I realized— oh, for goodness sake, I forgot to plug it in. So I hopped onto Facebook and I said: hey you guys, turns out I’m not going to have dinner. What can I do with one can of stewed tomatoes and some olives? And you know what I realized then? People were more encouraged by hearing me say— I failed but I wasn’t going to give up, than they ever would’ve been by me saying—hey, look at my house is perfect, my crockpot dinners turning out. You’re kind of finding the same thing as true. Right?
[Priscilla] Absolutely. People grow by and appreciate the authenticity of people that they’re doing life with. We all have a tendency to see people from afar, listen to their podcast, or watch them on a stage— and we think they’re perfect. Our imagination plays those tricks on us. It makes them think their life is just like that one Instagram picture that we saw them post. So we chalk their whole life up to that experience. When people are willing to say— I actually am a mess and I didn’t turn the crockpot on and I’m sitting here currently…. Priscilla Shirer is sitting here looking at her unmade bed and kind of room is a little bit a tornado and there’s laundry to fold— it’s real life and we’re all living it. We get the opportunity through our issues and our vulnerability to see how we need to all grow together. There’s community and friendship in that.
[Heidi] Yeah, I love it. One of the things I love about your book Radiant, and I’ve had a chance to skim it and I can tell it’s going to be inked up and highlighted all over the place. There’s a section in the book where you start talking about a mistake that you made and you got pulled over and you talk about how we mess up in life. You said sometimes we float into restricted areas. We look up, we veered out of the line and we need a serious course correction. Then you go into talking about coming back to the Lord and how God sees us when we mess up and this idea of turning to the Lord. For listeners who’ve never heard of your new book Radiant, maybe this idea is kind of new to them, this idea of returning. Because really, it’s repeated throughout the Bible—not because God doesn’t like us, but because He loves us and He wants us to come back to Him. So why have you hit so hard and so well on this particular topic in Radiant?
[Priscilla] Yes, I want everyone to know that there is never a time that’s too late for you to make wise choices, for you to line up with the truth of Scripture. In the illustration that you’re referring to, I talked about a day driving down the street where I kind of went into autopilot. You know where you’re driving and maybe you’ve taken a route so many times that you just maybe disengage even though you’re there, you’re aware, but you’re kind of disengaged from the details of it? And I’ve veered over into the HOV-lane, not knowing that I was in the Hov-lane until I was walled in on both sides. I saw a police officer up ahead and I thought—oh, you know that panic you get a panic chest.
[Heidi] Yes! It’s the worst!
[Priscilla] Yes! So I had to make a split decision. Was I gonna race by and hope he didn’t catch me? No, I decided that’s not good. I know he’s going to catch me. Let me just go ahead and slow down and pull over behind him. And that’s exactly what I did. He came to the window and I told him that I had just kind of veered over, not meaning to, and they kind of smacked me on the back of my hand a little bit, playfully. And he said— well, get out of this lane as soon as you can little woman. So that’s what I did. I exited as soon as I had the opportunity, and I thought— what a great opportunity to demonstrate the grace of God.
When His presence convicts us…. when we’re in the wrong lane: we know we shouldn’t be in this relationship, we know we shouldn’t be having this attitude toward that particular person—don’t try to speed by, don’t try to act like God isn’t there, like He isn’t present, don’t think He’s going to be mad or angry at you. NO, pull over, slow down. He’s going to come and see about you. And yes, he’s going to address it. He’s going to tell you to get out of the lane as soon as you possibly can. But, you have every opportunity to exit at the first sign of a relief to turn around and go back the other way. So I do harp on that because I want people to know there’s always hope.
[Heidi] Yeah. And the other thing that you said that I thought was so good and so healing is—your encouraging readers: don’t stay away and avoid God because you think He’s mad at you or you think He’s just turned His face away because He’s so frustrated. Instead, come back to Him because He loves you. He sees you from a different perspective than you see yourself.
[Priscilla] Absolutely. He sees us through the lens of the blood of His Son, Jesus. He doesn’t see us in our frailty, our humanity, our mistakes— that’s not what He sees, that’s what we see about ourselves. When God looks at us, He sees us through the lens of His Son.
[Heidi] Yeah. Which brings me to another thing I wanted to ask you about. Jay and I have been raising seven children for 28 years. Our youngest is just eight, but the oldest is 28—and the difference that I see in the culture between the way I’m looking at raising my eight year old daughter and the way I raised my 28 year old daughter, is astonishing. What I’ve noticed more than anything else, is we’ve got a generation having an identity crisis. I have not seen it like this ever in my lifetime, and I’ve been walking with the Lord for a long time. It can be intimidating. We are trying to figure out how we address this idea of identity crisis in the culture. And you’ve really been doing that. You’re doing this in your book Radiant, and I’m assuming this is a big theme of the movie Overcomer. Tell me a little bit about how you’re tackling the issue of identity and the crisis we’re facing in the culture right now.
[Priscilla] Absolutely. That’s the theme of the entire movie. The whole point of it is to say that your identity cannot be wrapped up in temporal things. So if it’s in success, well success can be looming in your life in one decade and then be gone in the next decade. If your significance was tied to that, or money, or the applause, or appreciation of people, or if you’re all wrapped up in that—and it’s nothing wrong with any of those things—but if your significance is tied to them, that means that when somebody takes them away or when they disappear, your health, when it disappears that means you are going to be devastated. Often, the only way we realize that our significance is illegitimately tied to things is when it’s taken away. Because you can tell. If you’re only disappointed, that’s one thing. But if you’re devastated and you feel like life is over because that thing, that relationship doesn’t exist anymore— that means that your significance was too tightly wound up in that thing.
You’ve got to go back and tie your significance to who God says you are. Think about the way that would change your whole life. If you really believe that you are chosen and accepted, let’s say you really believe that…that means that throughout my day when I’m going to make a decision as to how to respond to somebody, whether or not I’m going to tweet that, whether or not I’m going to accept that invitation or not. If I believe I’m accepted, then that means I’m not going to make decisions based out of insecurity… that I want you to accept me so I’m going to say yes to something I don’t really what to do… or I’m going to tweet something that actually reeks within security, or I’m going to engage in something that actually is a lesser version of what what I’m really worth. So when we get people really believing what God says about them, it literally changes the choices that you’re making on a daily basis, which in essence ultimately changes the course of your life.
[Heidi] Yeah. And for the person who’s listening to this right now, and they’re thinking—you know what, I don’t even know who I am in Christ anymore because I’ve been defined by how many followers I have on Instagram, or how many people appreciate the job that I’ve taken at the church all these many years, or whatever it is…it can be anything…and they’re struggling to find identity. Can you help point that person back to where do we begin to find our identity? Not In ourselves, but in the one who made us.
[Priscilla] Yes. In the film, Olivia Brooks, who is my character, looks at a young woman and says— I want you to do me a favor. I want you to turn to the New Testament, Ephesians one and two. I want you to just read it, write down everything it says about who you are. That is where I would begin. I would tell someone to just read through. You don’t have to read both chapters in one day if you don’t want. They’re not particularly long, but you can take over the course of a week. Just take the first two chapters of Ephesians and make a list of what it says about you as an adopted daughter or son in the Kingdom of God. Then rehearse those things. Post them on your bathroom mirror, or put them on your nightstand, or in your car where you’ll see them regularly—and then remind yourself continuously about what it says about you. It’ll start to renew your mind.
Even in the movie, there’s one scene where she’s reading through her list one day and she realizes it says: I am forgiven. And that little thing just keeps messing with her. It keeps bothering her, and as she meditates on it, she realizes— well, if I’m forgiven, then what business do I have harboring resentment and bitterness against a very important person in her life that really had legitimately offended her. She thought: man, I need to go forgive them right away. So it literally changed her choices. It changed the path she walked down when she recognized the state of being that she was in as a daughter of God.
[Heidi] Hmm. It’s such a powerful truth that this generation needs so desperately to grasp because we are looking for our identity. We’re looking for identity and all the wrong places. One of the things I loved about the book is you frequently do something in the book over and over: read this, say this, and believe this. I printed out one that I thought— man, this is great! I’m gonna take my little black and white copy and stick it on my bathroom mirror. You started in Colossians 3:9-10 you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. Then you say this: my struggles do not define me just because I’ve done something or doesn’t mean that’s who I am. My identity is rooted in my new nature in Christ.
When you you’re talking to, especially to young girls who their identity is being assaulted at every turn right now— even the idea that God created us male and female is under attack in the culture..
[Priscilla] Oh, all of it. Totally.
[Heidi] When you see a young person struggling with this, where do you…. I mean, we’re going to send them back to the Word… I love that you’re saying— hey, my struggles don’t define me. This the scientist you said— oh no, male and female. No, I run back to the Word of God. God said, I made you in my image. We’re image bearers. How does the fact that that we are image bearers, once we get that deep down, how can that impact the way we live our lives?
[Priscilla] Well, what it means is that every part of you was designed to literally bear His image. It’s like a mirror. A mirror is not designed to be impressed with itself. It’s designed to reflect an image. So what that means is: when I see myself now, with all of my uniquenesses, that means that He intentionally gave me those because there is some unique way He’s going to be reflected to the world if I’ll just relax and be myself. That means my hair texture is supposed to be my hair texture, that my skin color is supposed to be my skin color. My nose is supposed to be the size it is. All the stuff we wish we could change about our bodies—even the weaknesses in my personality, even those — that means that they’re not liabilities. It means God meant for me to be wired this way. If I dull my uniqueness, if I try to kind of melt into sameness with everybody around me, then the world is gonna miss out on the reflection of God that was intended to be seen through the uniqueness of me. His creative genius intended Priscilla to be this way and for you to be the way you are. As we surrender the fullness of our uniqueness to Him, we become a brilliant reflection of His light and love to the world.
[Heidi] Wow. And that is the message that we need to be shouting from the rooftops right now. It’s a powerful truth to realize that really, our identity is found in Christ. He tells us that He loves us just the way we are. We’re always telling our kids— listen, God made you special and He loves you very much. It seems to me, in the culture, we’re working really hard to try to undo what God said— He made us just the way we are. I love this. Can you give listeners a little bit of taste for what the movie Overcomer is all about?
[Priscilla] Absolutely. It is about identity and it wraps itself around the story of a young woman and also a coach at a high school. The two of them and then one other person, their stories become very much intertwined as they all struggle in different ways to discover their significance and value— and to be reminded that it cannot be rooted in things that are stripped away. It’s an emotional story. It’s a gripping story. It’s got lots of twists and turns. I really think that folks are going to enjoy it when they see it in the theaters the weekend of August 23rd.
[Heidi] So that’s today. So this is opening in theaters today all over the country. If a mom is sitting here listening to this right now and she’s wondering— should I take my 13 year old too?
[Priscilla] Oh yes you should, absolutely. It is for the whole family. I really mean that because you literally have the entire spectrum of people in demographics in this film. You’ve got teenagers, you’ve got younger brothers and sisters, you’ve got husbands, wives. I even appreciate the diversity in the film that we see ourselves represented in the film, even across the spectrum of racial unity. I appreciate that aspect as well. So I think anyone coming from any vantage point or any perspective, we’ll be able to identify and connect on some level with some portion of this film.
[Heidi] And would you say that once we can, once we start to realize…. because it’s not just teenagers that struggle with identity, right? I mean, a mom can struggle with our identity, our identity can be wrapped up in motherhood. And then your teenager says— I hate your sweater and you’re a terrible mother. All of a sudden— we don’t know who we are anymore. So this is an issue that really affects everybody.
[Priscilla] It sure does. And you see the adults in the film struggling with it as well.
[Heidi] I love it. You also have a companion book, which is kind of what I’ve been reading out of a little bit this morning. Tell us a little bit about Radiant, why you wrote it…. and how in the world, Priscilla, how in the world are you writing a book and doing a movie and raising kids at the same time? Because whatever vitamin you’re taking, girl, I want it.
[Priscilla] No, no. Let’s be clear. We filmed this movie a year ago. That’s how long it takes for a movie to get to the theaters. So last year this time we were filming and I only took about two or three weeks to fill my part. They film through the duration of the summer. Then I spent this year, from the fall until about May or June or so, writing this book. So I get the privilege to do that from my home. So I’m with my kids throughout the day. I just write when they’re away at school and doing their activities and here with them, but it was a privilege to write this book because what it does is it gives a woman an opportunity to have the message in her hand so that if she wants to, after a two hour movie, do business with this. She’s grappling with it, trying to figure it out and maybe trying to discover maybe she doesn’t even own a Bible. She needs something to help her to discover and grapple with the nuances of the struggles of her identity. This book and the accompanying Bible Study and resources that the Kendrick brothers have made sure are tied to this film—it’s just a great way for us to steward the message into people’s lives and homes and hearts.
[Heidi] I love it. That really is the message—to help parents and teenagers and whatever stage you are in your life, to get off the bench and onto the battlefield… to realize that you are who God says you are.
[Heidi] You’re not defined by anybody else. You’re defined by the Lord. Priscilla Shirer, you are a treasure. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Where can people find you if they want to find more information about the movie and the book, where’s the best place to send them?
[Priscilla] Sure. Well we’re our ministry is Going Beyond Ministries so you can always find me GoingBeyond.com or @PriscillaShirer on social media platforms.
[Heidi] Awesome, and for those of you who want more information about where to go to find the movie, I’ll be linking to all things Priscilla Shirer and the show notes today. Priscilla Shirer, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show with me today. I really appreciate it.
[Priscilla] Thank you. Have a great day.
[Heidi] Thanks, you too. All right you guys. For more information, find them at the show notes. Don’t forget, I will be in Lee’s Summit, Missouri this weekend for the Heidi St. John Conference. Thanks so much for tuning in, everybody. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
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