ANAHEIM, Calif. — In an Instagram-obsessed culture that continually tells users they aren’t “enough,” evangelical speaker and author Priscilla Shirer is challenging women to find their identity and value in Christ — and place their devices down.
“It’s so easy for us as humans to attach our significance and value into things that can so easily fade and are temporal, whether that’s a job and upward mobility career-wise, or a certain demographic or group of people,” Shirer, head of Going Beyond Ministries, told The Christian Post during a sit-down interview at the National Religious Broadcasters International Christian Media Convention. “When those things fade or no longer appreciate, applaud, celebrate, or include us, we can be decimated because we've attached our significance to those things. So, it’s about re-centering our priority and rooting it in who we are in Christ in the same way.”
Shirer pointed out that Ephesians 1 and 2 give concrete examples of what Christians have as a result of their salvation.
“We have an inheritance, we are not rejected, we are chosen, we are not unforgivable, nothing we've done is beyond the mercy and grace of God. We are forgiven and we are redeemed. All of these things have been given to us, and so we can access them,” she said.
The next step, she said, is to renew our minds and our perspectives to see ourselves in alignment with what Scripture says, adding: “Most of the time, the reason we think negatively about ourselves is because we rehearse whatever it is that solidifies that viewpoint, whether we think that we're not pretty, unacceptable, rejected, or lonely.
“Especially as women, we are constantly inundated with images that are telling us we are insufficient the way we are, that we have to adapt ourselves in some way to be beautiful and to be considered worthy," she said. "If you are looking at Instagram and magazine covers all day long, it’s going to cement those feelings that are incongruent with who you are as a daughter of Christ."
The antidote, she explained, is to rehearse positive feelings: “That's why God says in the Scriptures, ‘Meditate on my Word,’” she said. “It's not just so you can have it memorized; it's so that your mind will be changed and you'll start living out of a place that is congruent with your identity in Christ instead of the erroneous identity that we've been cementing, through either words that we've said to ourselves or words that are being spoken to us from other people.”
Shirer also recommended placing boundaries around social media use, noting that while modern advances are a blessing, any good gift from God can become an idol if it shifts our attention and worship off of Him.
“Social media can start to reshape our lives in a way that’s incongruent with the truth of who God has called us to be,” she said. “That’s with anything, but we’re seeing that happen in a crazy way with social media, not just with young people, but with adults, too. We can't even go to dinner without our phones in our hand, without checking it. Every buzz, every bing, causes a thrust of adrenaline to bolster through our body. And so we're being drawn into this relationship with social media and with technology that's consuming our lives.”
Shirer, daughter of well-known evangelist Tony Evans, clarified that placing one’s identity in Christ doesn’t “devalue or dismiss” other aspects of their character.
“I am a woman, and that's important,” she said. “I'm a woman of color, I'm a black woman. None of those things are dismissed or devalued. It just means that the moral compass of my life, the overarching agenda of my life, is going to be governed by the fact that I am made in the image of God.”
Shirer was the lead actor in the 2015 drama “War Room” and is slated to reprise her acting career this August in “Overcomer,” a sports drama from filmmakers Alex and Steven Kendrick about finding identity in Christ.
She told CP that before she signs on for a project, she asks herself: “Is this ministry? is it still going to be in alignment with what I know is my passion and the purpose for which I was created?”
“I often pray and say, ‘Lord, however it is that you want to communicate your message through my life, then Lord, I want to be available to that,’” she said. “So to me, film is another avenue to do the exact same thing that I feel like I would do in the written word on paper, or if I stood on a stage and talk from the Bible.”
When asked to share her hope for other women in the Church, Shirer responded, “I'm hoping that there's a generation of women who realize that we don't have to go into the callings that the Lord has placed on a life with a chip on our shoulder, trying to make a point every time we teach a Bible study or try to usurp authority.”
“That’s not necessary for us to operate in the giftings and callings that God has given us,” she explained. “Every believer has been called to be submitted to authority, male, female, married, unmarried. When we choose to be submitted, rightfully, to the authority of local churches, to the authority of marriage, and to the authority of our spouses, it frees us to be exactly who it is God has called us to be.”
As a woman who has been in ministry for decades, Shirer speaks from experience: “It has been my joy to be submitted to authority that has released, celebrated, and encouraged me,” she said. “I’ve had the safety net of God’s covering in my life because I wanted to honor Him, and that of my pastor and my husband. What that has done is released me to be exactly who God created me to be.”
“There’s joy and freedom in that,” she added, “not restriction.”