Melinda Gates: It’s that faith in action, to me, that actually changes the world. And sometimes we think that the acts we do are small acts, but they’re not. Those small acts add up to very, very large things.
God Lifts Us Up to Our Full Potential: Philanthropist Melinda Gates & Pastor Tony Evans – Episode #144
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today’s guests have been actively involved in lifting up and empowering women and men to pursue their full potential in life: philanthropist and writer Melinda Gates and pastor and teacher Dr. Tony Evans. First up, Melinda Gates and her husband, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, have been working for nearly two decades, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to help women and children around the world step out of poverty and live in equality. Melinda shares a bit of the path that led to the work that she and Bill do now, and the faith that drives her to really think about who her neighbors are both at home and abroad, and how they should be treated. She’s just released a book called The Moment of Lift in which she shares stories around the virtue of community and the lasting effects that occur when we take action toward empowering women all over the world.
Melinda Gates: Hi, I’m Melinda Gates. I’m a mother of three children and a philanthropist. I’m married to Bill Gates, and I’ve recently written a book called The Moment of Lift.
So I grew up in Dallas, Texas, [with] my parents, Ray and Elaine French. And I had three siblings, and grew up in a Catholic family. I’m still a practicing Catholic. And that meant that I went to a Catholic school, my siblings and I did, basically kindergarten through 12th grade. And we would go to church routinely as a family on Sundays, usually that would follow then with a family brunch at home. But yes, faith’s been a big part of my life for a very long time and still is.
I know from my faith and my spirituality and from traveling all over the world, which I do a lot during the year, is that we have this need as human beings to connect to one another. And when we connect and we connect deeply over our humanity, we are all better off.
“We have this need as human beings to connect to one another.” – Melinda Gates
I believe we all have a light inside of us. And if we turn that light on and let it shine and we turn it on, on behalf of others, we will change the world. But it means wrestling with this idea that these barriers we so often create as human beings of, “I’m on the inside, and so-and-so is on the outside because of their religion or where they grew up or their skin color or their gender.” I think so often we create these barriers because of fear. And it’s really fear of ourselves.
The truth is we have that side inside of us, and we have to be careful to act and live our values in the world.
Creating the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill and I started the foundation very soon after we got married.
We actually took our first trip to Africa as a couple when we were engaged to be married, and we went with other couples. It was a safari. The animals were beautiful, but honestly, we came back so touched by the people. We decided on that trip that the vast resources from Microsoft would go back to society. We’d always thought that would be a bit later in our lives, but that trip stimulated us to really start to learn and to say, “Let’s get going sooner.”
The mission of our foundation that we set out is that all lives—all lives, no matter where they’re lived—have equal value. Bill and I have used the resources that have come from Microsoft to really try and further equity around the world and to help people lift themselves up out of poverty. And that is the basic mission of the foundation.
The Moment of Lift
“If you lift up a woman, she lifts up everyone else.” – Melinda Gates
So I’ve recently written a book called The Moment of Lift, and I wrote this book because I’ve been doing the foundation’s work now for over 20 years. And through my many travels, I have met so many women around the world who have told me about their lives and their stories of their lives, and their stories have really called me to action. I’ve written this book to connect others to their stories, hoping to call them to action on behalf of others in the world who don’t have as much as we have, quite honestly, here in the United States.
We all have every personality type inside all of us. We also have darkness, and we have lightness inside of us. And I think so often those dark parts we have of ourselves, we don’t want to admit them, so we will say to [ourselves], “I’m not like that person. I would never say something to another person like that I wouldn’t do that slight or that deed that somebody else does that looks ugly to me.”
I choose a word every year that kind of comes to me that’s very meaningful, and my word last year was “grace,” trying to bring more grace to situations: to myself, for sure, in my quiet time. Grace inside of my family. Grace in moments where I didn’t know what to say or what to do. But we absolutely have to start with ourselves. We have to till that garden of our soul and bring grace to it.
If you live your values and you don’t resist those dark sides of yourself but you integrate yourself fully, then you are more open to other people who don’t look like you, don’t act like you. And guess what? They will change your worldview. They have changed my worldview. So many people I’ve met in so many places.
How can we get closer to our neighbors when they’re on the other side of the world, [when] they live in Senegal or they live in Kenya? I think there are a couple of ways.
I think, one, you can absolutely connect with somebody’s story deeply when you see it on the Internet—a woman who explains why she needs a small loan and why that will help her farm or her family.
I think we can connect also by being out in what I call “our own backyards,” our own communities and seeing poverty in our own community. For me, I live in Seattle. It’s important for me to get out in Seattle and see how people are living not necessarily in my neighborhood, but maybe in a different part of Seattle and to realize, “That could be me.” And when I see them and I work with them and I hear their true stories, it again helps me connect to people’s stories then around the world.
They’ve taught me so incredibly much. It’s been one of the greatest blessings of my life.
Spending Quiet Time with God
I think my quiet time in the morning is definitely what I would call “centering time.” It’s a time that I can take things in. I can take in what came the day before, or what somebody told me when I was traveling, say, to Kenya. You go back, and at least for me, I till that soil. And when I can remember those stories and remember those places or try and integrate something that maybe I said the day before that I wished I hadn’t somebody, maybe something I did or said that wasn’t very nice and maybe there’s a little guilt or shame around that, you work through all of that in your quiet time. So then, by the time I show up for work, hopefully I’m more of my best self and hopefully I can keep in my heart, in my mind the people were trying to serve with the foundation. And when I make decisions in meeting—big decisions, small decisions—I’m making it with them in mind.
So I think I first became a fan of Jesus Calling [when] someone in my family was reading it and gave me a copy. And then thereafter, my mom started giving them to various family members as Christmas gifts. We all [would] open them together on Christmas morning. You know, the cardboard box would come and we’d rip it open. I became a big fan then, nd that was probably, gosh, maybe a decade ago? No, not quite a decade ago. Maybe like six or eight years ago.
One of the quotes that resonates with me the most—and I don’t read just today’s. I tend to jump around, to be honest, in Sarah’s book and just see what comes. The one that I love is actually the opening page of October. It says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” And that’s from Matthew 11:28.
I’ve always loved that quote when I grew up going to church. There is a beautiful song that talks about “Come to me, those who are weary, and find rest for your soul.”
“I spend quiet time every morning. That’s where I find my soul and my inspiration, and where I focus closely on who is it that I want to be in the world.” – Melinda Gates
And so, if you feel moved in your quiet time, or because of your faith, or because of something you’ve seen in your community, or somewhere you’ve traveled, do something about it.
I would hope everyone uses their light to shine light on these issues and then does something about them.
Narrator: Stay tuned for our interview with Dr. Tony Evans after a brief message about a free offer from Jesus Calling.
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Narrator: Our next guest is Dr. Tony Evans, who is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX, and the founder and president of The Urban Alternative. Dr. Evans has authored over 100 books, booklets, and Bible studies. Dr. Evans is committed to helping men become the best versions of themselves, embracing responsibility, obligation, and the commitment needed to be the men they were created to be. We caught up with Dr. Evans live at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Anaheim, CA. Dr. Evans talked to us about his desire to take his message to a wider audience with the new movie Kingdom Men Rising, a Fathom film event, which will appear in over 800 theaters in April 2019.
Dr. Tony Evans: I’m Dr. Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oakland Bible Fellowship in Dallas and president of the Urban Alternative.
We are heavily involved in a comprehensive outreach based on the proclamation of God’s Word. [We’re] on 1300 stations every day throughout the US in 130 countries around the world. We’re promoting a worldview called The Kingdom Agenda, the visible manifestation of [God’s] comprehensive rule that affects every area of life. So we’re trying to show how God’s rule affects everything.
How to Become a Kingdom Man
I wrote a book called Kingdom Man. The subtitle was Every Man’s Destiny, Every Woman’s Dream. It’s calling all men to Biblical manhood: the responsibility, the obligation, and the commitments needed to be the man you were created to be. It was written because of the decline in men accepting that responsibility from a Biblical perspective, and then all the cultural issues, the confusion [of] the day.
The concept of the “kingdom man” is a male who is consistently learning to live all of life under the rule of God. It’s the responsibility of the divine rule. Men have to understand that they are not only in authority, they’re under authority. It’s got to be the right authority—of course, that comes from biblical principles.
Men have to be willing for God to tell them what to do in their personal life, in their family life, their church life, and in their civic life. That’s the overlay of what we’re trying to do, coupled with this concept of being a kingdom man, which is basically Biblical manhood, is the idea of covenant—that God operates through an ordered system.
“Men have to be willing for God to tell them what to do in their personal life, in their family life, their church life, and in their civic life.” – Dr. Tony Evans
When God made His condemnation, He didn’t say “Adam and Eve, where are y’all?” He said, “Adam, where are you?” Because under God, it means you are responsible.
Getting men to accept this biblical responsibility and then apply it—for example, in the Bible, it was the primary responsibility of the man to raise the children, not the woman. It says, for example, [in] Ephesians 6, “Fathers, raise your children.” Okay? The woman is strategic, she’s critical. But she wants to fill in the gap when he couldn’t do it, because he is out providing or whatever.
Well, unfortunately, far too many men have negated that responsibility—totally delegated it—giving women a level of burden they were never meant to bear. And so what many women have had to do is “pick up” not only their own role, but the role of the man because the man is either physically absent or emotionally absent from filling in the gap of this kind of covering for the family.
That shows up in our churches as well. When so much has to be done by women because many men don’t step up to their responsibility of kingdom governance, who governs within the family of God?
Kingdom Men Help Women Flourish
We certainly don’t want this concept of a kingdom man to ever come across as degrading of women, because it’s not. In fact, when it’s done properly, it’s an empowerment for women. Because when God created Eve, He gave here two Hebrew words; the English is “help suitable” [ezer kenegdo] and that’s “used of God,” coming alongside to help us in the Old Testament. So it’s a significant role—it’s an essential collaborator, not a maid.
When he understands that she comes as a significant part of this kingdom and he maximizes that, she begins to flourish under his kingdom leadership and is not crushed by his kingdom.
Once he gets the concept and is willing to accept it, OK, then that must mean that he is willing to be accountable to his role. In helping him then to shape that role, we will try to help him in the four areas.
So he has a spiritual priority to come under God’s rule, then that man then has to accept the responsibility of covering his family, and that means not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually.
When a wife feels covered by him, it says in Psalm 128 verse 3, that “she will flourish,” because she’ll feel secure protected, provided for. She will flourish.
And then it says, “Around the table, he raises his children,” in that same verse. The way a man leads his family best is around the table. It’s not just for eating, it’s for leading. It’s for praying and blessing, guidance, correcting—he does all that at the table.
“The way a man leads his family best is around the table—praying and blessing, guidance, correcting—he does all that at the table.” – Dr. Tony Evans
Then we challenge men to get engaged with their church. Don’t just come and sit—-you come and serve. You come use your gifts, talents, skills and abilities to advance the Kingdom of God, because that’s what you’re called to do under the King. And then it’s time to go public. In other words, your witness, your relationships. Jesus Christ must be publicly known not, merely privately held.
You need to take that posture. And when you operate in those four spheres, which are the four spheres of the covenants of God’s kingdom, then you are operating as a kingdom man.
Expanding the “Kingdom Man” Message
That book kind of took off and groups of men were reading it and doing groups around it. But what about the men who weren’t in church or who were nominal Christians? How could we take this message of Biblical manhood beyond the book or the church group, per se?
And so the concept came up of partnering with LifeWay to produce a Fathom Film. So on April 29 and April 30th, we will be having two nights of Kingdom Men Rising. It will be in about 800 theaters across the US, and we’re challenging men to come bring guys in the circle of their influence, ladies to come and bring their sons, their boyfriends and husbands, uncles—you know, all the men in their lives. Because if we can get a movement to challenge men to move from where they are to where they ought to be, then we can we can affect the operation of the whole culture.
We have a pretty heavy sports motif in the movie, and men will gravitate to that. We have Tim Brown, who is a Hall of Famer, Heisman Trophy winner John Kitna, former quarterback—been in the NFL for 16 years. We have my son, who played, and then we have Kirk Franklin.
So we’ve tried to bring other elements in too, weaving Kingdom Man into it. And what we’re saying [are] two messages: we want you to become a kingdom man, and we want you to become a mentor to other men or boys to become a kingdom man.
God called men together, males. He said, “I want to meet with all the males three times a year. If all the males (in Exodus 34:23–24) will meet with Me 3 times a year, I will save your nation.”
The point is that men have to grow in this, that’s discipleship. It’s growing and becoming this kind of man and being involved with other men are seeking to become this kind of man.
I love to hear the stories from wives that are saying, “You know, my husband started doing this. He started treating me differently. He started engaging with the kids, praying for them when they go to bed. He’s now involved with the church, I don’t have to wake him up, he’s waking us up. He has a public witness, a testimony. And he has incorporated this into his views so it’s not a Sunday thing.”
God Is Always Near Us
Narration: Dr. Evans reflects on his personal devotion time and how he prepares each week to lead his flock and to teach the principles of kingdom manhood. He also reads a passage from Jesus Calling that relates to the work he is doing.
Dr. Evans: I try to take some concentrated time on Mondays, particularly Monday morning, and then I try to make sure that as much as possible, what I’m preparing for others, to muse on it for me first. Because then that way I’m maximizing the time for myself, but I’m thinking of others too.
This passage is from Jesus Calling from February 12th:
I am ever so near you, hovering over your shoulder, reading every thought. People think that thoughts are fleeting and worthless, but yours are precious to Me. I smile when you think lovingly of Me. My Spirit, who lives within you, helps you to think My thoughts. As your thinking goes, so goes your entire being.
Let Me be your positive Focus. When you look to Me, knowing Me as God with you, you experience Joy. This is according to My ancient design, when I first crafted man. Modern man seeks his positive focus elsewhere: in sports, sensations acquiring new possessions. Advertising capitalizes on the longing of people for a positive focus in their lives. I planted that longing in human souls, knowing that only I could fully satisfy it. Delight yourself in Me; let Me become the desire of your heart.
Narrator: If you’d like to hear more stories about people striving to help us recognize our full potential, check out our recent interview with Susie McEntire Eaton and Trey Johnson.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we talk with country music superstar Jay DeMarcus of the award-winning group Rascal Flatts. Jay has enjoyed many years of success on the stage, but as a young musician he spent a long time honing his craft, sometimes feeling he’d never get his big break. He offers this bit of wisdom for others struggling to find their way:
Jay Demarcus: You can’t ever allow yourself get to a place where you’re so deep in despair that you don’t look for the hope that is there because it can be in the strangest places. It can be in things like a text message from a friend or somebody that just happens to call you to tell you they’re thinking about you.
If you keep forward momentum, and keep trying, and keep picking yourself up, you will eventually get to where you’re supposed to go.