Be Bold For Change

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Helen Burns -Be Bold3

I’ll never forget the day when my husband told me he had to go on a trip, so he needed me to teach our Bible Study group. To him it seemed like such a simple request. When I promptly told him I wasn’t going to teach it, he was quite taken aback and became insistent that this was something he really needed me to do. He also assured me that I was completely capable of leading the Bible study. Again, I flatly refused and I remember saying rather defiantly that he “couldn’t make me.”

He looked at me in disbelief and asked, “Are you ok with disobeying God?”

I couldn’t believe he dared to say those words to me, but it did get my attention. To say John and I have had some tempestuous conversations is a gross understatement, even if the conversation was about teaching the Bible. That was well over 30 years ago and thankfully a lot has changed in our lives and marriage.

I was completely intimidated by the thought of teaching the Bible, especially if there were men in the room. I was raised in a church environment where I had never seen or experienced women teaching. Breaking through this cultural norm I grew up with was terrifying and it required me to be willing to rise beyond the fear to step boldly into a place where God was calling me.

So many fears had dictated and shaped my sense of inadequacy and I allowed these negative thoughts to rule.

I am a woman.
I don’t know the Bible well enough.
I might disappoint.
I could fail.

Looking back on every fear that was expressed in my excuses, I realize every one was focused on me, not on others, or on Jesus. I did end up teaching that Bible Study group. I struggled through every moment of it and many more to follow, but I am forever grateful for my husband seeing something in me and calling me out to rise above my fears and misguided understanding of my place as a woman in ministry.

I had to choose to be bold to bring about change.

I didn’t know back then that one day I would be a leader, a pastor, an author, a radio and television host and be called to stand on many platforms at home and around the world. But I do know today that the obedience it took to finally say yes to teaching eight people in my living room was the catalyst needed to move me forward into a future that was waiting for me. I know now that there were actually multitudes waiting for me on the other side of my obedience. I just needed to say “yes” to a God-invitation.

What felt like such a big personal challenge, paved a pathway of change for so many others. My own three daughters, granddaughters, the many women and men in our church and beyond have seen a culture where a woman’s voice and contribution is highly esteemed, valued and needed. The people in my immediate world hardly notice whether a man or a woman is teaching, leading worship, ushering, running the television cameras, serving dinner or serving in our awesome children’s ministry. We are all under the same mission where, ‘”In Christ there is neither male nor female,” as we serve our Saviour together in a spirit of love and unity. (Galatians 3:28)

My personal challenge wasn’t with trying to find a place for my voice or ministry, but to be willing to step into the spaces that were wide open for me to enter into. I realize everyone has a unique calling and with it comes unique challenges and opposition, but it will be our courage to enter into those places that defines us or defeats us. I know that I could have chosen to allow my sense of inadequacy to frame my choices. I could have sat down and missed the opportunities that were waiting for me.

In this season of my life, I expect to do more than I have ever done before. I am not looking for a good book and a beach to lie on or a cruise ship to take me away. I will enjoy that from time to time, but there is so much important work to be done and I want to be fully awake and fully engaged with the call and mission that God has placed on my life. I am not content to simply lay down or give up, abdicating my place for a life of comfort or ease.

I am encouraged by the charge in Romans 12:1-2 to place my life before Christ. I choose to live bolder and more invested than ever to Kingdom endeavor and purpose. This world feels like it is spinning out of control in a hurry and yet in the midst of the madness, there is room for each of us to rise up, be bold and bring about change. Your voice matters, your heartfelt prayers matter, your love-in-action matters, overcoming your fears and complacency matters. Every single choice you make today matters and it is directing your life. I wonder where the choice is taking you? Is it taking you to where God is calling to forward today?

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Helen Burns

Helen Burns

Helen Burns and her husband, John, speak around the world on the topic of relationships. They host the popular TV show “Relate with John and Helen.”
Helen Burns
Helen Burns

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Helen Burns
  • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

    Yes! I love this! Last weekend at Rise Up, Sister, I told those Lovelies about one thing I heard you say years ago that changed my perspective on my yeses to God. “You never know who or what is waiting on the other side of your obedience.” This truth has made me brave SO MANY TIMES. Thank you for continuing to lead the way, Helen. You are a gift to my heart! ❤

    • Helene Burns

      Nichole… you are truly a gift and a joy in my life. You are the best cheerleader and I have to say that seeing you so bravely push forward into your destiny is ever-inspiring and motivating to me personally as well. Here’s to brave, bold YES’s to all that God is leading us into. xo

  • Roseline Olabode

    Thank you for this, being bold is the way forward. It feels scary but the thought of never getting to the other side is scarier

    • Helene Burns

      Exactly…. I see now how one small step paved a pathway toward destiny. Keep going forward Roseline x

  • Thank you for your fierce love and determination! I’m finding myself in a place where I’m also being asked if I will let fear prevent me from going forward. Hearing the voice of the Spirit say, “Would you really choose to miss this?” is a powerful motivator.

    • Helene Burns

      Hey Michele, let’s just decide to go for it and not miss out on the magnificent God opportunities and moments that are waiting for us on the other side of our YES! I’ll cheer you on as you cheer me on. So much love to you today xo

  • So thankful for you and your life’s message, Helen! The best years of ministry are yet to come for you, I’m excited for your future!

    • Helene Burns

      Thanks Karina… I am excited about the future for me and for you. These are days to be on the front foot, pressing forward into amazing days. I wouldn’t want my fears to keep me out of this amazing God-race. xo

  • Stefanie

    “I know that I could have chosen to allow my sense of inadequacy to frame my choices. I could have sat down and missed the opportunities that were waiting for me.” I feel like you’ve pinpointed exactly what happens for so many of us, in so many areas of life. I’m so glad you said yes to teaching that class. Thank you for this powerful reminder that we can say yes even when we’re afraid or filled with self-doubt and that we can take baby steps to build our experiences and confidence. Beautiful, Helen! xoxo

    • Helene Burns

      Thanks Stefanie…. I appreciate your encouragement and I am forever grateful that you are in my life because I took that small step forward. I love you xo

  • Cynthia Nichols Cavanaugh

    Helen, I so love your heart! You pave the way for others to step out of their fears and trust God with boldness and perseverance. Thankyou for your obedience. Your teaching has been used of God in my life to be obedient to what he’s asked me to do. I’m grateful.

    • Helene Burns

      Thanks Cynthia… your words of encouragement mean so much. I love you xo

  • sandyhay

    “My personal challenge wasn’t with trying to find a place for my voice or ministry, but to be willing to step into the spaces that were wide open for me to enter into. ” I remember the day my son told a group of women in our church that I would lead their Bible study. He hadn’t checked that out with me first yet I knew I would do it. I’m a few years older that you Helen and there’s no way I’m stopping. Retire is NOT in my vocabulary 🙂

    • Helene Burns

      Sandy… I love your spirit. Let’s just keep going strong – from strength to strength and from glory to glory. Retire is not in my vocabulary either – there are things to do and places to go as long as there is life in us. xo

  • I love this! I love your words: “I know now that there were actually multitudes waiting for me on the other side of my obedience. I just needed to say “yes” to a God-invitation.” — Thank you for saying YES! I needed women, when I was a child being raised in the church, to say YES and to literally PUSH forward within a church world that never had women in it. But I didn’t get to see that until I had moved across the ocean and lived in London where I went to the first church that was lead by a female pastor. She broke the ceiling wide open for me…and my yearning to break free began to rekindle… Growing up with no example to show that I could, no example to inspire me by… In a church lead by only men, it fractured my abilities of “yes” for a time… but Jesus keeps calling, continues to push us forward, and continues to remind us of the seeds that were planted. Your YES is a blessing, an empowerment and a giant YES to so many girls and women that are looking to find other women that are leading and are supported. So fortunate of the girls that never knew anything otherwise, that never even had to question it. May we rise up to make the next generation know a yes without question of their gender. Thanks so much for this writing.

    • Helene Burns

      Yes to paving the way for others….I do love that my three daughters, my grandaughters and the amazing young women from our church community have never known church without the beauty of both women and men gracing the platform. We all support each other. Thanks for your encouraging and very beautiful words. xo

  • I love how you identified that finding your voice and stepping out enriched not just you, but everyone around you!

    • Helene Burns

      If we only knew how many are on the other side of our obedience to step out, I think we would stop being so afraid. Thanks so much for your encouragement Joanna. xo

  • Tasha

    Thank you for your wisdom. And thank you for saying yes, however hesitant you were to do so. I loved this part: “My personal challenge wasn’t with trying to find a place for my voice or ministry, but to be willing to step into the spaces that were wide open for me to enter into.”

    • Helene Burns

      Thanks so much for your encouragement Tasha… I pray we all find our voices as they are so needed in this world. xo

  • I love this–I think so much in us is built by small steps and choices, and many of these small steps and choices do require stepping out in trepidation and out of comfort. But looking back and seeing how God builds in us, through our small acts of courage and obedience, is incredible.