Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Addicted to Big

Dannah Gresh: Did you know singing can have a powerful effect on the way we serve?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It’s in the singing, as an act of faith, often that my heart is brought to a place of glad surrender. So sometimes you say it. You do it. You pray it. You sing it through faith. You sing it through the tears until you “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for March 11, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Yesterday, we heard a message from Laura Booz, one of the women who attended our Sisters in Ministry Summit this past fall. We brought together this group of women in their 30s, 40s, and even a few in their 50s, to invest and encourage one another at this week-long event.

Nancy: Yes, that was such a sweet time of fellowship and pouring into one another so that these women can go out into their own circles and bless the people around them. And ministry like this is possible because of our Monthly Partners who provide a steady base of support—prayers and finances—and they invest month after month in the work that God is doing through Revive Our Hearts.

Dannah: And lately, we’ve been reflecting on how God blesses us so that we can bless others, which ties into the message Laura shared with us yesterday about serving Him with gladness. After she shared, Nancy, we had quite a discussion about how to choose gladness, especially when it’s just really difficult.

Nancy: Yes. It was a sweet time. And, Dannah, you actually started that conversation off by sharing something specific that you needed to work on serving with gladness.

Dannah: Yes, oh, yes I did. I’ve been grumbling about this same thing over and over, and I knew I needed to sing and apply the Scripture about “doing everything without complaining.”

Nancy: Here’s our conversation.

Dannah: You may laugh if you want, but please don’t, because this is a battle in my heart. But I need to pick my husband’s socks up off the living room floor with gladness, and I haven’t been able to do that for thirty years. So I’m going to start singing before I start picking them up.

Woman: For me, well, it’s kind of a mutual deal. Recording YouTube videos seems to be one of our greatest challenges. For me personally, by the time we’re recording, you can put the smile on your face, but it is so hard when we, or one of us, are grumbling or complaining.

So this verse I feel needs to be my theme verse, or our theme verse before we record or do anything because we are, like, big grumblers. I say, “All right, let’s go,” and I’m, like, “Oh, my goodness, that’s terrible.” I feel like I need to memorize this whole passage and really make this verse the theme of my heart and glorify.

Woman: Just when I’m uncomfortable, any time I deal with anything that’s uncomfortable, I grumble and I complain. The refrigerator breaks—I grumble. I hurt myself—I grumble. SoI need to just learn to sing when I’m uncomfortable in serving the Lord, even when it doesn’t feel good.

Woman: I would say, for me, it’s housework in general, but specifically laundry. We had some house help growing up, and so I grew up with extra hands around the house doing the stuff. My husband is great at helping, but my children, not so much, but I’m trying to teach them. I find my heart defaults to, “Why am I doing this by myself? Why do I not have help?”

And so, just to serve the Lord with gladness, as I hear the songs, and I put clothes away, and I wonder, How can three children wear so many clothes in a week? But be grateful and glad, and I think I’m just going to be singing while I do it.

Woman: For me, it’s the repetition—having to repeat myself over and over and over again. “Get your lunch box out of your backpack and put it over here.” That kind of thing. But God does that with us. He’s so longsuffering, and He repeats His commands to us over and over, time again. So just to not grow weary in doing that.

Woman: The million things that I do that includes instant-gratification—3,000-million things.

Woman: There are two things for me. I spend a lot of time cooking every day because right now our family has a lot of significant health things that have required a really significant change in our diet. So every day is just really tiring having to think through meals. I spend between four to six hours cooking. It’s just really overwhelming, and I feel like my brain doesn’t always know what to do or how to organize it. So there’s been grumbling there.

But also, living overseas is really stressful. I think sometimes I’ve sinned in thinking, “Lord, I already gave so much.” It’s like I’m experiencing loss continually in these other things, and then on top of that there’s more difficulty. I just want it to be easy. Like, I just want to move past this season.

Serving the Lord with gladness. I heard or read it one time—I think it was Jim Elliot—who said about a Psalm, that walking through those gates . . . like, the sheep were actually going to be slaughtered. So we were going through the gates to be slaughtered, and we’re singing? I’m, like, “Oh Lord, I want to be doing a glad service of sacrifice instead of sacrificing with just grumbling.”

Nancy: And think of Jesus and the disciples singing a hymn as the Lamb of God is going out to be slaughtered . . . and He sings. He sings. How precious is that? He sings a hymn. They sing a hymn. They sing the Scripture—the Hallel, the Jewish Hallel—those songs about the death of the Lamb.

And what a pattern for us and Christ in us, singing, not just because we are coming into His courts with praise. That’s lovely, but also, as we’re going out from the upper room, the great meal, the fellowship with Jesus; we’re going to be betrayed, going to lay down our lives, going to pour everything out on the altar. To sing in those times . . . wow.

Woman: As a young mom at home—a new young mom at home—I once heard Elisabeth Elliot on the radio say these words (I didn’t know at the time it was her), “It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than resentful over what is withheld. One or the other becomes a way of life.”

That struck me as so profound that I wrote it down on a sticky paper, and it hung probably in my kitchen until the stick wore off and fell down. But it was a constant reminder to myself, walking through those years, that “it’s always possible to be grateful for what is given rather than resentful over what is withheld. One or the other becomes a way of life.”

Nancy: Thank you for just being so responsive to the Lord. Thank you, Laura, for taking us to that just sweet place of reset.

One of the things over the years I’ve seen in my own self is rather than serving the Lord with gladness, is a tendency to be constantly reminding myself and others of the hardness of the aspects of my calling. I’ve come back to this verse many, many times because I need it all the time.

I’ve often thought of the people around me—I don’t have children, but I have colleagues in ministry and friends—Does my response to the hard parts of ministry make them think that serving the Lord is a thing they would want to do? Or does it make them think, “This is a hard calling”?

I think sometimes—maybe many times—my response to hard things in ministry has made people feel that Jesus is a hard task master. In fact, if I look at the whole—now the joy of serving Him for decades—there’s not anything in the whole wide world I would rather do. I can’t imagine not. It is a joy if I stop and think about it and look at it. In the moment, it’s not always easy. Many times it is hard. But I want my legacy to be to people that there’s nothing in the world you would rather do than serve Jesus.

But the way I respond to the hard things, the behind-the-scenes pressures—this isn’t seen by people so much when I’m on the platform as it is behind the scenes, as we’re getting ready for an event or for a recording. This is hard. It’s hard. I talk about birthing messages being like being in childbirth, and I’m going, “Push! I mean, this is hard!”

There is hardness to childbirth. And there is hardness to birthing aspects of ministry, but to make sure that we live out Psalm 113, “He makes her to be a joyful mother of children.” Well, there are hard aspects to mothering. There are hard aspects to mothering a ministry, to serving the Lord.

But we want the legacy of our lives to be that, over all, where people look back and see that we want our children, and the people I’ve served and the people I’ve served with, to think, This is a joy. That I’m a joyful mother of this ministry. You’re a joyful mother of children.

And maybe it’s singing. Singing can be an act of faith. There have been times when I have sat in my quiet-time chair, pulled out my hymnal, and sung. I was crying so hard that if anybody had been listening to me, they couldn’t have told you what I was singing because the words were just, like, being pulled out, pushed out. “Leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.” I can remember singing that—all stanzas—through weeping.

But it’s in the singing, as an act of faith, often that my heart is brought to a place of glad surrender. Sometimes you say it. You do it. You pray it. You sing it, through faith. You sing it through the tears until you “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” 

So we don’t sing because we feel like singing. We sing as we’re cleaning up the shards of glass and whip cream—what a mess! What a mess! And what a mess sometimes we’re cleaning up in very specific, practical ways or metaphorical ways. But to sing until our heart is lifted and until the other people around us can see God is good, God is faithful—regardless of what the mess is. And He is worthy to be praised; He is worthy of our joyful service.

Woman: Laura, I just want to start off by saying, “Thank you for your message.” I think it hit me right in the gut. It was really powerful, and it hit me where it hurts. As you were speaking, I just wrote down just the words that, “I’m addicted to big.”

What I mean by that is that over the past three years or so I have had, probably, more events in my life than I’ve ever had—everything from hard things with moves and diagnoses, and some family things coming out, and also high highs like starting a non-profit to writing a book and seeing some growth in the ministry and more public ministry. I’ve just found that I almost need a jolt. I need a really intense high high or a low low to keep going or to feel like I’m really serving God or I’m growing or I’m being sanctified.

And what you were talking about, just last week I was cleaning up spilled milk from a glass. Every mom knows how hard broken glass is to get out of food, or to clean it up all together. What do you use? Do you use paper towels? It’s very complex. And so I was cleaning that up and working through that, and I was feeling a lot of pride. Honestly, I was feeling like, “I am above this. I deal with bigger things than this. Why is my time being spent like this?” I was grumbling. I think that has been a theme of, “The small things are just not worthy of me now.”

And so that was just very convicting, because my husband and I have set some priorities for our family. One of them is that I don’t work more than twenty hours a week—and there’s opportunity to work lots and lots and lots and lots—right? You can do ministry forever and always. And it sounds good, but I’m so grateful we set that in place. But that also means that I have a lot of time with my kids doing a lot of small things.

I guess this was just so convicting for me to realize that that has been established by God for me to do, and it is just as important, if not possibly more important, that my private life is lived to the glory of God and that I’m serving with gladness. It’s easy to serve with gladness when people applaud or they encourage you because you’re suffering. “You’re doing a great job. Wow! I can’t imagine how you did that.” But no one saw me clean up the spilled milk and my kids didn’t care at all. But that’s what the Lord sees.

So I was just really convicted by our talk in wanting to sing to the Lord, to serve Him with gladness and remember that it’s Christ that I’m serving whether it is on a stage or in the living room.

Woman: The other thing that I shared a little bit about—something that I’ve just been processing over the past six months or so—which is kind of this idea is that if you are faithful in the small things, then God will give you big things to be faithful in.

Oftentimes when it’s said—I know the heart behind it, I’ve said it many times—is just to remind you to be faithful no matter what the Lord is giving you. But I think oftentimes our generation can feel like it’s a promise, it’s a one-to-one. “If I do this, and I can do that for five to seven years, and I’m faithful in these small things, and it’s unseen, and no one knows my name, then eventually the Lord is going to give me a big platform, or He’s going to give me visible fruit in my ministry.”

I think, for me, that felt very much like that’s somewhat what happened. I think it fed into my pride because I blogged for a long time relatively quietly. I did serve in my local church and things like that, and the Lord has given more provision or more fruit to our ministry. It’s easy to think, “Well, great. I’ve paid my dues, and so now this is what’s owed. I’ve earned this. This is what I deserve.”

So I think there’s just this idea that—Nancy was talking about this—that the faithfulness, the big faithfulness is, in the end, receiving Christ and it’s eternity. And that may be all any of us ever see.

For me, I realize as I look back on those years when I was “faithful in the small things,” I wasn’t faithful. I was not. I was self-centered, prideful, selfishly motivated. I was all of those things. I might have thought that I was faithful or whatever—faithful to write once a week? I don’t know. But it’s like I did nothing to earn where I’m at. I was not faithful. I cannot be faithful in the small things. It is all by the grace of God.

Nancy: Anybody else just want to add anything along that line?

Addicted to big! That’s maybe a curse of our whole era and social media, opportunities have made it possible for people in one place to go big—viral, going viral. So a post goes viral, and that’s applauded and sought after. And who doesn’t kind of want that, I mean, deep down?

Kristen, you read Philippians 2 and said, “This is our pattern. It’s Christ who, though He was exalted, He was one with God, He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but He humbled Himself, made Himself of no reputation and became a servant” (see vv. 6–7).

And what did He do? He washed. He cleaned up a mess. He cleaned up the disciples’ feet. And He had every right to that throne, but He took the low place. And for us to be like Jesus is to serve the Lord with gladness in the littlest things.

I’ll say this, too, the things that you do that are public, that are seen by others, that are applauded by others—whether it’s in your parenting or your blogging or your speaking or whatever—if it’s really effective, none of that comes without a lot of behind-the-scenes, unsung, unheralded, unthanked labor. You don’t have children without labor. Right? The hard part.

So, if we get to where the goal or what is meaningful to us is to be seen and heralded and the applauded thing, then we’re going to come to resent what it takes to get there. And the example of Jesus Christ in us is that He gloried in the shame: the wiping of the feet, the washing of the feet, the dealing with the disciples’ arguing on the road, the bickering—and what mother doesn’t have to deal with that if you have more than one child?

And in His doing all of that, He was as much God, and as much surrendered to the heart of God and serving the Lord with gladness in those moments. It’s not just that that makes way for the bigger moments. It’s that that is who you are. That’s where who you are is really seen.

Who I am is not seen on the platform. It’s not seen when I’m leading this week. It’s seen in how from my heart I serve the Lord when it’s in my study late at night or on the weekend and nobody else sees, nobody else knows, nobody else cares, nobody else is impressed. Am I doing that with gladness of heart? Not because it might bring me something bigger or greater, but because, in the moment, that is the thing that God has given me to do, and I’m doing it with gladness—and I’m preaching to myself here.

Dannah: I don’t know about you, Nancy, but I have opportunities every single day to serve the Lord and to do it with gladness. And, I hate to say it, but my husband’s socks are one of those things. There are so many things that he does for me, and he does it with such gladness. I want to be that woman who picks his socks up and sings as I do it.

Nancy: We all have an area, or areas, of our lives that we need to choose to sing, praising the Lord as we serve Him and others. And whether we’re doing something that seems huge or something that seems minute, whatever work God gives us to do at the moment matters to Him. And it also matters to Him, not just that we do what He asks us to do, but that we serve Him and others with joy in our hearts.

Dannah: We just heard from several women at our Sisters in Ministry Summit who shared powerful words. They were vulnerable, and they were reminders of truth. And thinking back, I am filled with so much gratitude as I see these women responding to the work the Lord has called each of them to.

Nancy: I agree, Dannah. It was such a sweet thing at the end of that week to commission these women to go out to where God has placed them to serve the Lord with gladness.

And at Revive Our Hearts, we’re grateful for the blessings God has lavished on us as a ministry and how He has allowed us to bless women around the globe as a result. And those many different outreaches are largely due to the steady stream of support from our Monthly Partners who see this kingdom work and say, “That’s a worthwhile investment.”

Dannah: Our Monthly Partners not only give faithfully every month, but they’re praying for Revive Our Hearts and the work God has established for us. They’re also sharing the message of freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ with others so that their lives will be changed, too.

Nancy: Yes. And as we’re moving into a new decade, now is the time to be part of the work that God is doing in the hearts of women everywhere. Would you consider making a difference by becoming a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner?

When you join the Monthly Partner Team, you’ll receive our Daily Reflections devotional in the mail each month. And we’ll also send you a free registration ticket for True Woman ’20, our women’s conference coming up this fall.

Dannah: You can visit to find out more about how you can join the work God is doing, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Nancy: Now, what really defines success? Tomorrow we’ll pick up the discussion as we examine how success looks a lot like big numbers and more like steps of obedience.

Kristen Clark: I think you all know recently, just in our culture, there’s this rise of female power leaders. This call to be a lady boss, to be a queen, to build your platform, and to make your name great. I was following some of those, like, “Oh, I need some practical inspiration for platform building.”

And I just realized that as I would see those posts on Instagram, it was not good for my heart. My focus was just being turned to the numbers and the platform and the stage. I was thinking more and more about, “How can I grow this? How can I make this bigger?” And then people would ask us questions like, “Well, how are your books doing?”

And then when we’d have a conference, I’d feel this fear creeping up because people will start asking early on, “How many registrants do you have? How many people are coming?” And you want to be able to say, “It’s the biggest sell out ever!” And sometimes it’s not, and I’ll find myself saying, “Oh, well, it’s just early registration. We’ll get more later.”

I’m apologizing. And then I’ll wonder, What is going on in my heart? And it’s because I know I’m focusing on building my platform, building my kingdom. Then I look at the life of Jesus, like you were saying. He would walk away from the crowds—crowds of thousands—because didn’t want to hear His message. They just wanted to take from Him. He wasn’t into building His platform in that way. It wasn’t about the numbers. It was about discipleship, about hearts, about building His kingdom.

So just an encouragement to all of us, I think we have to be careful about who we follow online and if those messages are turning our hearts away from building God’s kingdom and building our own platforms, our own numbers. And then just remind ourselves that God is building His kingdom. He is more committed to that. And we are committed to that, and we can trust that.

And if the work we do impacts one child, impacts one woman who reads that book, who reads that blog post, and she draws closer to the Lord as a result, that is a success.

Nancy: Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Pointing you towards success as God defines it, Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.