Dearest Debbie, first and foremost, thank you for being a part of my SHEro feature at taylormadu.com. You have inspired me from afar, and I believe you are a treasure to this world. When I met you, your soul was so pure and kind. I strongly believe you are a role model for us younger women, which is why I wanted to personally interview you for my readers. I desire anyone and everyone to hear your heart, your journey, of who you once were, and who you have become, by the grace of Jesus. Packing out an arena of 10,000 women, doesn’t just happen over night… and a book doesn’t just randomly pop up on a shelf with your name on it. You have clearly worked hard, shed some tears, faced challenging moments, leading you to this point in your life. Take us on your personal journey, as we open our hearts to receive the very hope held within the life of Debbie.
Debbie Lindell serves alongside her husband, John, Lead Pastor of James River Church in Springfield, Missouri. In 2003, Debbie launched the Designed for Life Women’s Conference, which today draws 10,000 women annually from across the nation and around the world. As a dynamic leader and speaker, she has a passion to see women of all ages embrace their unique design, understand their purpose, and connect to one another through life-giving sisterhood.
| COME WITH ME TO GET TO KNOW DEBBIE ON A MORE PERSONAL LEVEL |
Tell us about yourself. Where were you born and raised? What did life look like for you growing up?
I have very fond memories of growing up with a younger brother and sister – in a pastor’s family. I was born in Minneapolis, Minn., one year after my parents were married. When I came along, they were still living with my grandparents, in a parsonage (as they were called) that was connected via the kitchen and laundry room to a little church (with maroon velvet theater seats) where my grandparents pastored for over 35 years.
When I was nine months old, my mom and dad loaded up their baby girl and a few belongings and moved to the Northwest to pastor a church in Georgetown, Washington – just outside Seattle. We lived in the Seattle area until I was 10 when my parents accepted a position to pastor a church in Marquette, Michigan – where we lived until I was 15.
Just a little piece of trivia. Marquette is listed as one of the top 10 places to be guaranteed a white Christmas with an average annual snowfall of 165 inches…consequently, I LOVE SNOW!
At the age of 15, after a very difficult season of ministry, my father chose to take a break from pastoring to work with my uncle in Colorado building houses. That was a very sad and challenging time for all of us. But, it was there in the small town of Brush, Colorado that I met my husband John – the very first Sunday after we moved. When he walked into the little Sunday School class and looked over at me, I was a goner:) More about that later.
Growing up, my family didn’t have much with regards to possessions or luxuries, but we had each other and a whole lot of love. They instilled in me a love and dependence on God, a love and commitment to His Church and a thankfulness to Him for what we had. They also taught me to love people, no matter what, even when it was difficult. And, I am so thankful for that!
You now live in Missouri, do you prefer healthy eating, or good ole’ southern food?
I LOVE FOOD of all kinds! Although I try to eat modestly healthy (John makes me a smoothie every morning – YES, EVERY morning!), the truth is, I love yummy, old fashion, home cooking; mashed potatoes and gravy, fried chicken, scrambled eggs and bacon and everything in between!
What’s your favorite snack?
Well, if it didn’t matter what I ate, I prefer salty, fattening snacks… like chips and sour cream -onion dip, French fries or onion rings with an ice cold coke. But, for the most part, I try to be good and keep those things to a minimum – sticking to almonds, popcorn and dark chocolate.
Oh and I do love coffee, pretty much any time, anyhow! My fave is a plain latte in a big ceramic mug… and of course, it tastes better when I am sitting across from a friend!
Were you always a church kid, or did you encounter Jesus at an older age?
I was raised in church and to know and love Jesus from the time I was born. And, I remember very well, when I made the decision to follow Jesus for myself. It was during a Sunday night service at my parent’s church in Seattle, when I was just five years old. The next memorable and life changing encounter I had with God, was when I was 12 years old, during an altar call at youth camp. That is when I felt a calling into full-time church ministry and knew I wanted to serve Him with every part of my life.
Sometimes we, as humans, believe that women in leadership never understand our personal struggles. They are “perfect” and can’t relate to some of the things that women deal with. I know in my own life, I have specific things that could possibly taunt me, if I allowed the doors to remain open.
What was your personality type? Did you ever face insecurities/ struggles growing up? If so, tell us about them?
Although my parents were both extremely loving and very good to me, I did not grow up understanding that my unique design, body type, personality and intellect were all purposefully and beautifully designed to reflect Him, but instead I struggled with accepting who I was.
As a young girl and teenager, I was pretty shy and reserved… yet clumsily outspoken. It seemed as though I was always embarrassing myself or getting into trouble for opening my mouth and speaking my mind at the wrong moments. And as well, like most girls, I had a very low self- body image that I carried with me into my marriage and ministry. Consequently, I was very insecure about who I was, and the inaccurate view I had of myself affected my relationship with John and in the way I interacted with other women.
Unfortunately, it was not until years into my adult life and ministry, that my eyes were opened to the truth of what God’s Word said about me and, by faith, chose to believe the Word; that I was purposefully made by Him (Ps 139) and perfectly created to bring Him glory (Ephesians 2:20). WOW, what a difference that made in my life! When I chose to believe God – and not my feelings or what others had said about me. And that in believing I was beautifully designed by my creator God, I was then able to give Him the honor and glory He deserved for creating me! I would say this to every girl… when you make the faith decision to believe God about who he created you to be – it will ultimately change everything about how you do life…EVERYTHING!
Now just like so many other things – when it comes to walking by faith in this area of my life, it is a daily decision. There are still days that I have to take hold of my thoughts and remind myself of what the Word of God says.
There are so many girls who have been taught the identity message… that they are beautiful just the way they are. But, unfortunately, they do not believe it! There is a verse in the bible that says this – “It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth AND BELIEVED it, found yourselves home free… “ It is only when we believe, by faith what God says about our creation, that we can be set free from the feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and self-focus. And that is my prayer for every single girl… ages 10 – 100. That they would know the truth about who they were designed to be and believe it!
I know in my personal life, there are many moments in which I had to learn the hard way. However, it was through those moments, I learned the voice of the Holy Spirit. Now, when He speaks, He warns me, I take heed, before the crash happens.
Do you ever feel there was any moment in life that you had to learn the hard way?
Oh yes, more than I can count.
I remember a time as a young mom when I made a decision that was very impacting to myself as a person and my family. I was a stay at home mom at the time, living in a tiny house with three kids under 3 (and all of them in diapers!). Over the course of several weeks, I started to get addicted to watching a daytime drama that I knew was not God’s will for me to be watching. It was affecting my thought life, how I treated my children and my spiritual well- being. But, I the fact was, I liked it, and so I kept pushing aside the conviction of the Holy Spirit that was so gently speaking to my heart. Finally one day, I came to a point where I had to make a choice, to keep feeding my addiction to something totally worthless, or stop. Thankfully, I made the decision to stop what I knew was adversely affecting my walk with God and my family. That is just an example of what I have tried to do throughout my life. If I feel there is anything that is getting in the way of my walk with God, my commitment to lead well, or my marriage and my family – whether it is a habit or an attitude, I ask God to help me run from it.
Learning to make every decision based on faith – not fear or selfishness and to trust God regarding every area of my life is honestly a life-long challenge – yet one I am 100% committed too. I still make mistakes, I still mess up at times, I still need to say “I’m sorry” and admit I was wrong (which does not come easily to this girl’s competitive nature), but, I press on, with all of my heart and soul, to become more and more like Jesus each and every day.
I always want to hear of how couples met. Everyones story looks so differently, however the one common thing in us all, we can always look back and see how God orchestrated every step, in the good, bad and ugly.
How did you and John meet?
When I was 15, and my parents moved to Colorado, I met John the very first Sunday at the Brush Assembly of God Church, in the little High School Sunday School class. John walked into the room, our eyes met, and I was a goner. He was tall, self-assured, outspoken and a very big flirt! That afternoon, the church had a youth party in the park, and I decided to go, and he was there. Within a few weeks, he asked me out on a date (to Pizza Hut), and of course, my answer was yes!
Once you married, did you ever get lost within the shadows of being “Pastor John’s wife?” Many wives tend to feel inadequate up next to their husbands, especially when the husband has a “stage gift.” Did you ever experience this feeling? If so, why? And how did you seem to overcome? Or is it still something you deal with?
Yes, during our first 15 years in the ministry I struggled with feelings of insecurity and of “not measuring up.” John has always supported and encouraged me – so my insecurity did not come from anything he did or didn’t do – but from an inaccurate evaluation of myself. Satan, the distorter of all things good, is a strategic enemy whose continual goal is to destroy our purpose and value. He strives to cause every girl on the planet to rate herself as less than what God designed her to be – and to make her step back from living out God’s amazing purpose for her life. And when he does… he wins!
As a young wife in ministry, I constantly found myself comparing my history, my education, my “talents” and my abilities to others around me, including John. In doing so, I always came up short. In the opening section of my book “She Believes,” I share a story about the first job interview John and I had together as a married couple. We were twenty years old, and I was a nervous wreck. I did not want my lack of ability to mess up his opportunity to be hired for his first position in ministry. In the story, I share about how those fears became a reality, when at the end of the interview the pastor “rated” me “on a scale of 1-10” as a “four” and John as a “ten”. His evaluation confirmed what I already had come to believe – that I was deficient and underqualified for ministry and life!
I believe that story is just an example of how Satan is constantly at work to destroy every girl’s value and worth. He will use people, circumstances, history and sin to distort our understanding of what is true and right and good. It is not until we chose to believe the truth of what GOD says about us that we will live above the lies of Satan. So, all that to say… in answer to your question, yes, I felt inadequate as John’s wife… and for years, I hid behind the lie of “not being good enough.” Overcoming those feelings only came from daily choosing to believe God.
Sometimes, as a wife and mother, or even simply a woman, we are guilty of tucking away gifts that are on the inside of us, due to the feeling of inadequacy. Isn’t it crazy how fear stops so many individuals from stepping into their calling, whether its within the 4 walls of the church, accepting your role as a full time mom within the walls of your home, or in the business, fashion, teaching world? I am guilty of it. We have all faced this at one point or another.
A lot of times we forget the people we see in the spotlight or on stage actually feel the raw human emotions, which consists of nerves, fear, hesitation, and many others.
Reading about your past insecurities, and seeing the fruit of your phenomenal leadership in the present, how in the world did you get to this place?
Did you always know you would be a public speaker, author, leader of thousands of women across the nation?No, I did not ever imagine what I see happen in and through my life today. I always knew that I wanted to serve God with all my heart and lead people to Jesus. And my understanding of what that looked like came from a small mindset. I was not taught to believe that God could do big things through my life. But, as I began to grow in my faith and believe what God said about my worth, it began to change my view of how He could use me as well. About 15 years ago, I sensed a whisper from God that He was going to position me to be a leader of thousands of women. To be totally honest, I was petrified at the thought. But, I knew it was from Him… so with a “mustard seed” amount of faith, I began to step out from the security of my “behind the scenes” ministry to visibly lead. And as I did, God started to open doors and expand my leadership in ways that seemed beyond possible. The adventure has been breathtaking as I have watched him take this ordinary girl and do impossible things through her! Platform ministry is not the ultimate way for God to use a person. It is just one of the ways – and the truth is this, without the company of incredible, faith-filled women around me, I would not have the platform at all. God wants to use us all… all together, our connected, believing lives bringing his glory and grace and light to the earth. Our sisterhood slogan – United we love each other, together we change the world!
And, I have learned not to limit God – He is big, and he desires to do big things through all of us!
I am currently walking in this season of my life. I always thought I would lead worship. However, God has opened doors for me to speak. I am always asking God, “God, what does this country bumpkin from Arkansas have to say?” And yet, the doors continue to open, and lives are changed. Sometimes God calls us to do things that are uncomfortable and stretching, but I have learned I would rather be uncomfortable and stretched IN HIS WILL, than running and fearful, and submissive to the lie of the enemy that says Ill never be good enough. What made you step out in faith to speak? To lead? To write?
“She Believes” was a surprise in every way. I did not plan to write a book – it was actually John’s idea. One morning, as we were having our devotions, while on vacation, he told me that he thought I should write a book… and within a few short months, I had a contract with a publisher. I must say… I have come to realize that I love writing. I love the idea of talking to women of all ages about Jesus and inspiring them to believe that God has an incredible purpose for their live.
What is your life calling/mission in a nutshell?
To lead people to Jesus and build His Church!
The Apostle Paul wrote these words which I have made my life mission “follow me as I follow Christ. I want to be able to say… “do what I do, say what I say, write what I write (on social media) – to lead well and purposefully as a women, wife, mother, and leader so that all those watching me will see Jesus and be lead closer to him through my life.
Do you feel you are living in it now?
Yes. Not perfectly, but purposefully!
In a culture that is consumed with self, self image, me me me, it is easy to get lost in ideas that don’t truly matter, and completely neglect the things that truly matter. If a young girl, woman, came up to you, and asked for advice, and you could only give them one tip—what would you say?
Love Jesus with all your heart and surround yourself with a faith-filled Sisterhood.
Once again, Debbie, I cannot say thank you enough for taking time out of your busy schedule to write to all of us at taylormadu.com.
My goal within this section is to inspire, encourage, and somewhat help equip other individuals. Some of us, many of us, will never come into physical contact, however, can be reached and transformed through a computer screen. I believe God is in this, and can use anyone, any thing to reach the person that needs a touch from the Master.
To all the readers, I want to thank you for taking time to simply engage in the blog.
I want to encourage you to go and purchase “She Believes.” The words of this woman holds weight, and how amazing that you have access to her heart within the pages of this beautiful book! You are one click away!
PS. NEVER FORGET, YOU ARE CALLED AND LOVED BY GOD! EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO MATTERS. YOU ARE NECESSARY AND NEEDED. EMBRACE YOUR ROLE.