Hollywood actress Shari Rigby says purpose is linked to God, not success or title

Shari Rigby
Shari Rigby | (used with permission)

Actress, filmmaker and author Shari Rigby released her latest book, Consider the Lilies, during the global COVID-19 pandemic and says it’s good timing because her book is designed to help people discover their purpose in God, apart from all the titles associated with what they do. 

The “October Baby” actress is dispelling the myth that one is defined by what one does in Consider the Lilies: Get Rooted In Your Destiny By Discovering God’s Plan. Rigby vulnerably shares her own journey of moving to Hollywood to pursue her own dreams until God showed her that He wanted her to embrace His plan for her life. Part of that plan included starring in the Christian hit film “Overcomer” as a lead, some directing, starting a ministry called The Women in My World, and mentoring countless women in the entertainment industry.

The following transcript is The Christian Post's interview with Rigby, in which the actress talks about the pressures of finding purpose in the world and provides insight on how to get clarity by aligning oneself with God’s plan.

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Christian Post: This generation is constantly trying to find their purpose and Christians always talk about finding their purpose in God. That's a topic you tackle in your new book. Can you talk to us about that?

Rigby: Purpose is such a big thing for all of us, right? I think especially for believers, and nonbelievers actually. But really when you come into your faith, and all of a sudden you really are slammed with these different words that come at you – purpose, calling, talents, giftings. And you're trying to digest it as a baby Christian, and even very mature Christians, they're still trying to tackle these words. I think one thing for me, this journey really started when I rededicated my life to Christ when I was 25. I was in that same position, I was tackling these words. Every time I turned around, somebody had these words kind of mashed together and I was trying to figure out how to decipher what this looked like and what I found myself doing and kind of what we lean on in this book is the toiling and spinning aspect, that people kept using purpose in alignment with titles. If I was a mother or a wife, or whether I was working at the coffee shop at the church, or whatever I was tied into, or the job, or the career for some reason, somehow that became the way that purpose was addressed. 

What I was finding was the more and more that I dove in and studied it, the more and more I realized that really wasn't truth. We've been sold a narrative that our purpose is attached to whatever it is that we're doing in life. It's the bill of sale we have been sold. So here we are, day in and day out, trying to go, "Oh, wait a minute, I didn't get that job. I've lost my purpose. My kid just went off to college. Oh my gosh, what am I going to do with my life? My purpose is [gone]." Those are seasonal changes. 

When I really started to find clarity in it was when I came to Hollywood, and God called me into it, really working with women, with the women in my world. All of a sudden He started to just download into me, "You need to study this, you need to understand because if you don't understand who you are and whose you are and your purpose is me, as in your Lord and Savior, period, you're going to get lost each and every day." So the way that this book finally came into existence was men and women, but women for this at this particular time, they need to know that their purpose is first and foremost Jesus Christ. We were purposely crafted and created for the King of kings. So everything else stems from there so they can't lose their purpose. It is Jesus.

CP: Coming into Hollywood as a Christian is no easy feat. How is it navigating not getting caught in that world? You're also mentoring women in this field of the entertainment industry; how is it helping them understand?

Rigby: We do get lost in it really quickly. Especially in today's culture, you pick up your phone and you're looking at social media and all of a sudden you're doing this comparison, despairing type of feeling because there's this constant reflection of, 'Do I have enough followers? Do I have that picture-perfect looking life? Am I filtered enough?' So not only are we now dealing with that one on one individually, but it's in our face 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One thing that I really felt like when I came here to Hollywood was, God was really putting me in a position of preparing my heart and that really was coming to this reality check that, at first I came here going, "Oh, my gosh, I'm going to be a huge movie star. It's all about movies, I'm going to be a movie star, I'm going to have massive success." I had this whole vision of what it was going to look like. All of a sudden God was like, "No, you're here for my women. Like get it in your head, I'm a God of relationship. Go back to your Bible and start looking at when I give my disciples their instructions. I didn't tell them to go out and get famous and get rich and do those things. I told them to go out and serve my people and tell them that the kingdom is at hand."

That was a point in time where not only was I hoping to pour into women, but they were also pouring into me. So we started to really go through the study of identity and whose we are and who God is and who He says He is and the promises of Him and identifying with how we are built. As we started to do all that, that's really, what made me have the ability to stand on my own two feet to go into these auditions where people say, "You're not this, you're not that." And I could start to identify and say, "Oh, no, you see, I've been in my word, and I know that God doesn't say that about me because actually He called me here and put me on holy ground. So when I come into this audition, I've already been appointed to be part of this process."

CP: In a generation of entrepreneurs who always try to make things happen instead of allowing God to make things happen for them, can you share how your book kind of addresses that?

Rigby: We're visual human beings. We were created by the God that created the universe, the artist that created the most beautiful stuff that we could have ever imagined. So we, I believe, are also very creative, very visual. I think we've kind of gone into this culture that we've been sold on these catchphrases or words — passion, desire, will, dreams, things like that. We have something that all of a sudden that hits us, whether it's a vision, whether it's something that I dream in my heart, whether it's whatever that might look like, and all of a sudden we kind of jumped quickly at that. We're like, "Well, that must be what God meant." Like what I was saying earlier where when He called me into Hollywood, of course, my first instinct was, "Oh my gosh, He's going make me a huge movie star. Of course, He brought me into making movies and doing what I was called here to do." But it doesn't look anything like what I had imagined. I had it all planned. I was going to do soap operas, I was going to go to work from eight o'clock in the morning till six o'clock at night, I was going to come home and feed my family, I was going to be able to work five days a week; it was going to be beautiful. I mean, I had it all laid out and it didn't look anything like that at all. 

Here's the thing, I think we run so much faster and not only because we have these visual ideas, but because we're trying to always stay on top of what the world wants us to identify with. So when I'm mentoring, I'm really trying to remind women that, yes, God is a God of vision. He's a God of dreams, He does all those things but we have to lean into His word, we've got to get back into the Bible, and we have to find the truth. We have to start looking to the way that He defines those words, how He defines our lives. And what it says in His word is we have to be aligned with Him and His will, and obedient to what He's called us to, not what we just take off on tangents on to try to figure out how to incorporate it into our life. That's something I think is really challenging for women. So that's what I hope in this book as well, with Consider the Lilies, is that is really a formula that I try to walk through with women to say, "I know feelings are one thing and I know that we try to identify with all these big catchphrases, but we've got to get back into the Word of God and we've got to understand His truth before we look at what we think is true." 

CP: Along with your book, you have a ministry where you're pouring into other women, called The Women in My World. Can you speak on what that is?

Rigby: The Women in My World has gone through seasonal things that changed. It's changed a lot just even with my career and where God has taken me and all, actually all the women too. When I sat in a little acting studio here in Hollywood, God spoke to my heart and He said, "You're here for my women." He said, "You're going to come and you're going to praise me first together and then you're going to pray." That's where it all started, it was started very simple. It grew from two women to 25 women and we would get together all the time, we were all growing in the entertainment world or in our family, whatever it was that God was doing. 

Now what God has done is He has shown me that every movie set I'm on, every speaking event that I'm at, I don't care what it is, there is a connection that God has connected me and so I have women now that I get to speak with and do life with all over the world. We've been bringing women together in different cities. We just had the NRB event where we honored Nashville women, we had a private gathering, it was about 65 women and they were all powerhouse lady bosses that were just moving mountains in the entertainment world and foremost though, what we walked away with, women were messaging me they said, "We've never been in a situation before where each woman that got up to share first gave honor to God."

And so now with COVID, I've been dreaming for years about putting women in a room and having a conference so God's timing is perfect. So we're starting to cultivate that. Right now what we're doing is IG Live events with women that are in my world and bringing those women's voices to the table each and every Friday, and just allowing her to share about what it looks like in her life, how God called her into the entertainment world, and then allowing her to share practical tools, and really speaking to others that are watching so that they can actually cultivate relationships with these women, they can seek them out, they can watch how they've done life and how they can glean some of the information that they need. 

CP: What are some of the messages you want people to take away from your new book?

Rigby: It's crazy when you think about releasing a book when COVID hits. I think what I'd love for people to take away from this book is that, first of all, it's beautiful. I think iDisciple did such an incredible job on creating this beautiful book. It really to me is a book that encourages you to get back into your Bible. First and foremost, spending time with the Lord. 

It's really a book that puts into the practical tools. You can put this book alongside of your Bible and your journal and walk through these practical tools and principles.  It really encourages you to really write things down and create your battle plan. God has a plan for our lives if we believe that we have been given life after death, if we have been saved, why can we not believe that God, the Father, who actually talks about a plan from the beginning of the time of Genesis all the way to the book of Revelation, He has a plan for our lives. It takes us though we must seek it out and we must be diligent to walk in alignment with God. The only way to do that is to get into the Word every single day and put practical tools into place and write them down. 

I think one of the best things that people are talking about in this book right now is something that I call mapping. Mapping is really this principle in the books of the Bible, when you start to read them, one relationship begets another. There is absolute lineage in the Bible. God is a God of relationships. And so we too need to look at the relationships that God has divinely appointed and He connects the dots. It's amazing,  I've already had women saying, "I've been mapping, I can't believe this. It's blown my mind." I want people to read this book, get into their Bibles, and I want them to go from confusion to clarity. I want them to understand that their purpose is secure in Jesus Christ and that everything else pours forth from there, they never lose it. His yoke is light. I just want them to go from confusion to clarity so they can walk in God's plan for their life and do it with the power and the strength that God gave them and created them with in the first place.

CP: Is there anything else coming in the near future?

Rigby: They asked me to write a 60-day devotional. There is a seven-day devotional right now on YouVersion. I am so excited about the devotional part of this journey; every day I'm sitting here writing and God is just pouring through and I'm crying. 

I had a movie that I booked right before COVID and at this point, it's not come back around so I'm hoping that we'll have that. I would just say the last thing, pray for the entertainment world. Pray for us. Pray for the people that God has put into this battlefield and on this battlefield of entertainment. No matter what state we're in, no matter where we're at, no matter what we're delivering, but we have the ability to deliver powerful messages in a snap of a finger. We need more people on the frontlines that are praying for the people in Hollywood so that we have people in high positions making choices to honor God first and foremost before all other things. We need to stop looking like the world and looking like who God called us to look like. So that's the last thing and I'm hopeful that I get to continue to do that right here in Hollywood each and every day. 

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