Dreaming On In Life & Faith: Interview With Jenna Lucado Bishop On The Revolve Tour & Serving Where You Are
With realness and encouragement Jenna Lucado Bishop shares her heart with young women around the country, relating to their everyday questions and delving into the truth of God’s word with them. Whether speaking on stage at The Revolve Tour, a faith and fun-filled weekend for teen girls, or co-authoring books with her father, best-selling author and speaker Max Lucado, Jenna’s passion for God is apparent and inspiring, and her energy and the warmth of her personality are inviting. In this interview Jenna shares how she was led to get involved with The Revolve Tour and gives advice for dreaming on in God and serving Him right where we are, even in uncertain times:
Interview by SOAR’s Editor Julene Fleurmond (A special thank you to the Revolve Tour staff for the interview!)
SOAR: I wanted to start off by asking what led you to be involved with The Revolve Tour and having a heart especially for teen girls?
Jenna Lucado Bishop: My heart for teen girls can be traced back to college. I joined a little singing group that would travel to various girl’s events to lead worship. It was at these all-girl weekends that I realized I loved talking to, encouraging, and offering advice to teenage girls. I wasn’t much older than them, but I had just enough wisdom to offer since high school was finally in hindsight:) I knew that one day, I wanted to work with teen girls full-time. I just didn’t know what that would look like. And it DEFINITELY would not look like me speaking from a stage! Seriously. I never wanted to be a speaker.
Well fast-forward four years, and I hear about this new conference called Revolve. Revolve comes from a “mama” tour called Women of Faith. I knew Women of Faith through my dad, and they told me all about this new conference for girls that they were starting. I casually mentioned that I would love to serve at something like that. I was envisioning helping behind stage or on the concourse, selling product or joining the marketing team. I never knew Mary Graham (president of Women of Faith) would sit down with me a year later and ask me if I wanted to try teaching on stage.
SOAR: When and how did you realize that God was calling you to be a speaker and writer, (did your father’s work have a big influence)?
JLB: It was NEVER my dream to speak and write. I didn’t even want to do it when Mary asked me to try it out. You see, teaching and writing was my dad’s thing, not mine! But I felt a Godly nudge to step out, and as soon as I did, God caught me, and gave me a passion I never had on my own to teach girls about Jesus. I was about 23 – God had been preparing my heart for it, and I never even knew it. I look back at all the years I listened to my dad preach, the times I stood up in school to teach at our little chapel service, the times in youth group when I would share my testimony, the little girl’s conference I led worship at in college … all of those were seeds to grow me into a teacher. And I love that it wasn’t my dream, so that I can’t take ANY credit:) That was all God. Now, it’s a deep love. Teaching girls about Jesus, the challenge of communicating His goodness through our weak English language, seeing the light bulbs go off in a girl’s heart when she understands Him for the first time … man, nothing is better!
Jenna Talks About God, Feelings and Life At a Past Years’ Revolve Tour
SOAR: Some teen girls, or even young adults might be confused about what God is calling them to do with their talents. They might have a “million” interests and ideas but not a clear vision. What advice would you give to young people on discovering their God-given dreams and putting them into action? How can we better discern the voice of God versus our own “good” ideas?
JLB: Well, first off, I wouldn’t get bogged down with the HUGE picture. I’m not a visionary. Not a gift of mine. So I can relate to those confused girls out there. But I believe it’s more simple than we think. I think we just ask ourselves, “What do I love? What is something that just comes so naturally for me, that I don’t even have to work at it? And what are other people affirming me in?” That could be math, it could be organizing, it could be doing hair or playing an instrument. It’s an area that dad likes to call our “sweet spot.” Maybe some have a LOT of sweet spots. That’s okay! Now, our only job? Ask God to help us be responsible with it right now. If you play piano, don’t expect and wait on an opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall. Just play for an elderly neighbor who needs something to smile about. If you are a good writer, don’t wait for a publisher to come knocking on your door. Just write in your journal, give your writings to friends who need encouragement. Start picking out your sweet spots, and then be responsible with what God has given you NOW. Just trust God with your gifts every day, and let Him take care of where He takes you.
SOAR: Sometimes when we have a vision for a dream or ministry but we get discouraged when nothing we envisioned has happened or a period of loneliness where we long for God to send others to mentor or support us. Have you ever gone through a dry patch during your ministry, and what advice would you give to someone in a position like that?
When I graduated from college, I moved to Nashville to become a songwriter. I joined a little band, thinking, “Okay, this is it! God is going to use me big time in the music world. I just know it!”
But very little opportunity came my way. I had no friends, didn’t know the city, and then, on top of it all, my music ministry was barely glowing. I felt it flickering in and out, like a flame in me was dying.
Looking back, I see what was going on. God used those confusing, quiet and desert-dry moments to draw me to Him. I grew in my relationship with him more than any other season of my life. Why? Because I had nothing else to fill me, give me purpose or excitement. I only had Him. Not even my ministry could divide my heart. It was all His. (I have learned that ministry can distract me for God, because I pour all my time and energy into it, instead of just seeking God.)
So if you are going through a dry time, stop, take a deep breath, and smile. God is using ALL things, even “darker” days, for His good. He is molding and shaping your heart. You are a constant work in progress. Maybe He is teaching you to draw closer to Him, know Him deeper, instead of focusing on your ministry. Sometimes even ministry can become an idol.
SOAR: At Revolve you were talking about the Garden and God’s dream for us to be restored and be in relationship with Him. One of the things you asked was, “What temporary dream in your life does God want to replace with an eternal dream?” For those who maybe didn’t attend Revolve, could you expand a little on the difference between a temporary and eternal dream? How can “temporary” dreams girls have, that may have been planted by God, be harmful if girls focus more on the dream rather than the Dream-Giver?
JLB: First off, love the way you phrased the question Julene (I can tell you are a writer:)
The ultimate eternal dream that I talk about at Revolve is God’s dream for us to be in a perfect relationship with Him in a perfect place – heaven. In Ecclesiastes, a book in the Bible, it says that God even put eternity on the hearts of men. It’s in us. And we know it’s in us, because there is something that questions life after death. We think, “surely, this life cannot be it.” That comes from an eternal dream God put in us.
But I also believe God gives us dreams that will serve an eternal purpose.
These would also be “eternal dreams.” What eternal purpose do they serve? Well, they serve the purpose of glorifying the only Being that will eternally be glorified – God (or as you call it, the “Dream-Giver”).
Temporary dreams would be dreams that serve a temporary purpose. What temporary purpose do they serve? Well, they serve the purpose of glorifying the beings that will NOT be eternally glorified – ourselves.
So, eternal dreams serve God ultimately, and temporary dreams serve our selfish needs.
I believe a lot of dreams can either be temporary or eternal based on the motive of the heart.
Temporary dreams typically will have a motive to glorify ourselves. For example, you have a dream to be a singer. That’s great. But why? So that you will make money, be famous, have a personal shopper? Or so you can show others how good God is and point to God through your words and your performances? You have a dream to be a doctor. That’s great. But why? To make a lot of money, to prove to others that you are intelligent, to have a Dr. before your name? Or so you can help others in the name of the real Healer and serve others as if you are serving God.
It’s good to stop and evaluate our hearts. It’s easy to take the dreams/gifts God gives us and twist it to promote ourselves, instead of focusing on the God who gave us the dream. When that happens, our lives become purposeless and empty, because we aren’t living for the ultimate eternal dream God made us for.
SOAR: What advice would you give to someone who feels that his or her calling is something similar to yours, writing and speaking to youth? What are some first steps they could take? Could you also share something you wished someone had told you before you got started?
JLB: Well, it’s always hard for me to answer this question, because speaking and writing wasn’t my dream, so I didn’t do anything to prepare myself! God just put it in my lap. Though He was secretly preparing me for years.
Since this year at Revolve our theme is Dream On, girls are sending me their dreams. Most are saying they want to be a speaker or a singer on the Revolve stage. And that is so cool! I love that. But I like to challenge girls with the root of their dream to write/speak/sing, whatever it is. Is your motive to share Christ or share yourself? If your answer is “share Christ,” then does it matter how God uses that dream? No! Just as long as you are doing it, you will be filled with joy! You can use your desire to write about Jesus or speak about God’s love ANYWHERE and ANYTIME! What if that girl in math class that is really quiet with no friends needs a piece of your writing – maybe a poem or a positive thought or encouraging note. Maybe you have an elderly neighbor that needs you to speak to her about God.
Why wait for a publisher or a stage? Live out your dreams now! Use the resources you have, and the people God has put in your life. If you want to speak, speak! You can speak to your youth groups, a friend at lunch, an FCA meeting. If you want to write, write! Start in your journal, write for the school newspaper, or go ahead and write a book. Who’s stopping you? And then give your writings to others to encourage them. Then leave all the details to God.
SOAR: In your latest book “You Were Made to Make a Difference” you talk about how young people can serve right where they are. Can you share a little on your vision behind the book and how serving has changed your life? Also what is an example of a project a teen can start in their community if they are daunted by the idea of going overseas?
Serving has shown me God. That’s how it has changed me. 1 John 4 talks about how God’s love is made complete in us when we love others.
When I serve others, God’s love fills me in a way that is unexplainable. It shows me sides of Him, I never knew before. And anytime I experience God’s love in my life and see new sides to His heart, my heart immediately changes.
Ideas of how to serve in your community run the gamut. Use your gifts or your dreams (like we have been chatting about).
Love to cook? Go to your local church and ask if there is a single mom that needs meals once a week.
Love to play the piano? Go to a local nursing home, and ask them if you can perform.
Love to play with kids? Why not join a local organization like Big Brothers/Big Sisters where you hang out with an underprivileged kid once a week. Or volunteer at your church for the children’s Sunday school classes.
There are SO many ways to serve right where you are. Pray that God will open your eyes to an opportunity He wants to give you.
Jenna Talks More About Giving and Serving in this “Heart Check” Video for the Revolve Tour
SOAR: For young adults who may have more opportunities to go overseas on missions sometimes it can be overwhelming thinking about what impact we can have as one person. For example recently I went to Haiti to visit family there and do missions but my heart was broken thinking, “I wish I could do more.” What advice would you give to make the best of and prepare for a trip like this or to expand our impact beyond one trip after it is over?
JLB: You can’t do everything. I can totally relate to your feelings Julene. I am a “fixer.” I want to make everyone, everywhere okay. Before you take off on a mission trip, go with this suggested prayer, “Okay God, help me understand that you are in control, not me. Help me be responsible with the people and opportunities you put before me and then trust you with the rest.” You have to know that you, alone, will not save Haiti, will not feed all the children around the world. We can only do our part.
When it comes to expanding our impact beyond one trip, one of the best things you can do is pray for the people you encountered, the country you visited and the organizations you worked with. You can tell others about your experience, so that others will pray or give or serve the country like you did. There are also plenty of organizations that are within the countries you may visit that you can give money to, or sponsor a child through, or gather Christmas presents from your church to send to, etc. The options are endless!
In this video from Haiti Jenna Talks about service and how it changes our perspective…
SOAR: Can you share a scripture that speaks to this season of your life?
JLB: My prayer over my heart right now comes from Ephesians 1:17 –
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”
SOAR: Here’s a lighter question so we can get to know you a little bit more beyond Revolve; can you tell us some of your favorites: Favorite Book/s? Music you’ve been listening to lately? Favorite warm drink for snowy weather? What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
JLB: I love anything fiction. I’m reading a lot of Jane Austen right now. And I love anything by Francine Rivers. I always have Sarah Groves in my car. And I love listening to anything Hillsong/Hillsong United. Favorite warm drink would be coffee made at my own house. I can’t stand Starbucks coffee! (Does that make me “unamerican”?) Something surprising? I love Latin culture. I have a dream to move to Central America. I love Spanish, Latin food, the people … everything!
SOAR: Lastly what is one more piece of advice you would give to yourself as a teen or to any teen girl trying to navigate this world and live out God’s dream for them?
JLB: I didn’t start reading the Bible on a regular basis until I was around 17-years-old, and it changed my life. Don’t wait until you are 17:) Even if it looks boring or overwhelming, give it a few words at a time. Each word will draw you closer, until soon it feels like an old friend.
SOAR: Thanks so much Jenna for your inspiration!
Jenna is currently speaking on the Revolve Tour, an encouraging 2-day weekend event for teen girls featuring relatable speakers, music artists including dramas, and more. The 2011 theme is “Dream On” based on Luke 1:37 NCV: “God can do anything!”
This year’s line-up includes:
Jenna Lucado Bishop, Chad Eastham, Courtney Clark Cleveland, Kathryn MccCormick, Jamie-Grace Harper, Group 1 Crew, Britt Nicole and Hawk Nelson
For more information about the Revolve Tour visit www.revolvetour.com.