Kristin Chenoweth: I struggled with seeing the light. I’ve struggled with hearing what I need to hear, but light is coming. Light is here, that we’re not acknowledging, but light is coming. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Being Light Bearers for Jesus: Kristin Chenoweth and Sadie Robertson Huff – Episode #277
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Have you ever heard the phrase “to whom much is given, much is expected?” In the case of our two guests this week, God has gifted them with amazing platforms to reach thousands of people—and they take the responsibility to lead well very seriously. Actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth has graced the Broadway stage as well as movies and television, and she uses her platform to spread faith, hope, and light to everyone she encounters. Sadie Robertson Huff was part of her family’s TV show as a kid and as a young woman went on to find an even bigger audience through her appearance on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Both of these women wanted to be faithful to the opportunity given to them to be a light to their followers—and though it’s not always easy, they trust that God will help them when things get hard.
Let’s start with Kristin Chenoweth. She’s just put out a brand new Christmas record and talks about what making the record and bringing songs of joy to people has meant to her.
Kristin Chenoweth: Happiness Is…Christmas! is the title. I went to Nashville in May to make this record because it felt like Christmas had been canceled for two years. It wasn’t, but you know what I mean? And I just was like, “I want to do another Christmas album, and so we’re going to do it.”
I went to Nashville and hired some of the best musicians in the world. I did some songs that everybody knows that we have to have, and then some that I found that were not famous. Then my producer—I have two producers on this record, Jay Landers and Fred Moeland. And Jay said, “Listen, I’ve got a song called, ‘The Stories That You’ve Told,’ and you don’t have to sing it, but you might want to just hear it. It’s about a person who’s maybe passed on in your life that you’re talking to and laughing with and sharing memories with.” And I love that song because that’s how people stay with us.
Turning a Season of Loss into a Season of Light
I’ve had a lot of losses this year. My best friend died and my voice teacher died, and my aunt and my uncle died over the past year and a half. And if anything, it’s made me stop, because I had to—I go, go, go, go, go. And the hardest part and the most beautiful part has been stopping.
I’m back at it again, but stopping and listening to what is being said to me has been really important. In other words, that old saying of “stopping and smelling the roses.” You know, I’ve taken many walks with my fiancé and my dog, and we’ve been like, “Wow, look at that pretty flower,” or, “Look at these squirrels everywhere. Oh my gosh, what’s that creature?” You know, it sounds very Pollyanna-ish, but I might not have noticed before.
And of course, there are beautiful Christmas songs on there that I’m really proud of that people will like: “A Little Road to Bethlehem,” which describes Mary’s journey getting to give birth to Jesus. And I also had an ode to Karen Carpenter because I loved her so. “Merry Christmas, Darling,” I just love that song.
And I end the whole thing with, “My Dear Acquaintance,” which is not necessarily a Christmas song, but I’ve decided it is. Peggy Lee sang it and it’s about, “My dear acquaintance, it’s so good to know you. It’s so good to be with you. And those who are gathered here and those who are not, we remember you, and let’s have a cheer to all those who have been here and all those who are not here now and all those who are here, gathered here now.” I ended it with that.
So anyway, I’m really happy with it. It’s intimate. I’m back out on the road. I wish I could tour more, but I’m trying to be very safe about that and I hope when people listen to it, they just are eating good food and laughing and remembering and having moments of gratefulness and enjoying the music.
We’re All Just Doing the Best We Can
We’re all just humans trying to do the best we can. So why don’t you give yourself permission to be human? There’s a weight that lifts that you go, “Oh yeah, that’s right. I’m not perfect. Only God is.” I tend to forget where the focus has to remain—and by that, I mean giving it all up. ‘I surrender all. I can’t do it by myself anymore.” And He says, “It wasn’t ever meant for you too.”
“We’re all just humans trying to do the best we can. So why don’t you give yourself permission to be human? There’s a weight that lifts that you go, ‘Oh yeah, that’s right. I’m not perfect. Only God is.’” – Kristin Chenoweth
One of the things for me that Jesus Calling has given me is it seems to be—I don’t know if a lot of people say this—exactly what I need on the exact day. I don’t know how that happens. You know, I just don’t know how that works. But one of my favorites was—and I pulled it up because I have it on my phone all the time so that I can always look at it, not just on whatever that day is—Jesus Calling, January 29th. It says:
KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON ME. I have gifted you with amazing freedom—
Because I haven’t felt very free this year.
…including the ability to choose the focal point of your mind. Only the crown of My creation has such remarkable capability; this is a sign of being made in My image. Let the goal of this day be to bring every thought captive to Me.
For me, Jesus Calling has had that a lot this particular year. And I wonder how they knew. You know, how that happened, I don’t know. Like in Corinthians, time with Him is so important.
[My fiancé] Josh and I were just talking the other day about how for the first time ever church doors have been closed, at least in New York, and how we needed to spend more time with Him. And luckily, I have a person in my life who’ll pray with me and shares with me what’s going on in his mind spiritually. And when you find that, when you find that tribe or you find that person, that can help you—”Let’s see what Jesus Calling says today,” and then send you to your Bible, which is the Word of God—you know, that’s how Jesus Calling has helped me in this particular year.
I’d love to read January 25th.
LET MY LOVE ENFOLD YOU in the radiance of My Glory. Sit still in the Light of My Presence, and receive My Peace. These quiet moments with Me transcend time, accomplishing far more than you can imagine. Bring Me the sacrifice of your time, and watch to see how abundantly I bless you and your loved ones. Through the intimacy of our relationship, you are being transformed from the inside out. As you keep your focus on Me, I form you into the one I desire you to be. Your part is to yield to My creative work in you, neither resisting it nor trying to speed it up—
Which I’m really good at.
Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Me set the pace. Hold My hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.
So it’s ironic to me that everything that we just talked about is right here. And I had no idea. So there you go.
Narrator: You can find Kristin’s new Christmas record, Happiness Is…Christmas!, everywhere music is sold.
Stay tuned to Sadie Robertson Huff’s story after a brief message.
A meaningful holiday gift: Jesus Listens by Sarah Young
Many of us want to develop a deeper prayer life. In this new 365 day devotional, Jesus Listens, Sarah Young offers daily prayers based on Scripture that will help you experience how intentional prayer can connect you to God and change your heart. Learn more about Jesus Listens and download a free sample at jesuscalling.com/jesuslistens.
Narrator: Our next guest is Sadie Robertson Huff, once a star on A&E’s show Duck Dynasty alongside her family. After stepping into the spotlight on the show and on Dancing with whe Stars, Sadie was unsure of what she was supposed to do with the fame and platform God had handed her, and she was scared. After attending a summer camp through a friend’s church, Sadie heard a woman speak about her faith and her purpose from the stage, and Sadie felt God calling her to her own purpose—spreading His Word and helping others reach their fullest potential in Christ by living with intention.
Sadie Robertson Huff: Hey, friends, I am Sadie Robertson Huff. I’m married to Christian Huff. We have a beautiful, crazy daughter named Honey. She is absolutely amazing. She’s four months old. We have a dog named Cabo. And I run a ministry called Live Original, have an incredible team by my side, and we get to do fun things, all, of course, for God’s glory. And to just meet people and, with love, help them feel more known and seen and more rooted in truth.
I have a devotional book out right now called Live on Purpose. I’m very excited for that because every day, I encourage girls to live on purpose, and now I have a devotional book about it, so I’m excited about that.
Growing Up on Reality TV
I’m from western Louisiana, it’s a pretty small town. I mean, there are some smaller and there are many bigger than West Monroe, Louisiana. I grew up in an incredible family. My parents are awesome. And my dad worked for his family business making duck calls. My family business is called Duck Commander. He made duck calls and t-shirts and kind of ran the business for a little while.
And then years into running the business—I guess I was in middle school, probably, at the time—my parents thought it would be a fun idea to try to have a reality TV show. My mom loved reality TV, and she would always say my dad’s family is weird enough that they could have a reality TV show. And so that is what they kind of went for. Originally we got put on The Outdoor Channel to do a hunting show. But because we added family to a hunting show on The Outdoor Channel, it kind of got a lot of attention. And so other bigger networks noticed. That’s when A&E picked up Duck Commander, but changed the name to Duck Dynasty. And our family had a reality TV show for a little while.
When I was like five years old, I used to stand on my countertop and preach to my parents, and I would just give full messages and preach and be so passionate. There is even a little song that I would sing at the end of my preaching when I was five. And I would say, “So let’s give it up for God,” and then I’d do a toe touch, and it was epic.
But a lot of things happened from when I was five to when I was seventeen years old.
I think when you’re five, you’re confident and nothing can stop you. You’re fully the original person that God created you to be because you have family and people around you. We have families that inspire us. We have friends around us who make us laugh and giggle and be able to be ourselves. But then as life goes on—someone says something that tears you down, someone says something that makes you feel embarrassed about the thing that you used to be so confident in. And so by the time I was seventeen, I did not think about preaching or speaking. That was not on my radar at all. And to be honest, I went to a very traditional church where women did not actually speak in the church. And so I had not even seen an example of that or what that looked like.
“We have families that inspire us. We have friends around us that make us laugh and giggle and be able to be ourselves. But then as life goes on, someone says something that tears you down, someone says something that makes you feel embarrassed about the thing that you used to be so confident in. And so by the time I was seventeen, I did not think about preaching or speaking. That was not on my radar at all.” – Sadie Robertson Huff
And then when I was seventeen, I got asked to be on Dancing with the Stars. And so that was pretty crazy, and that’s when my life took a major turn.
So when I was seventeen I moved to L.A. for a little bit to do the show and had a blast. But it was crazy. And then that kind of led me to ask myself, “God, if You’ve given me fame, fame scares me. I don’t know what to do with it. I feel like You could have chosen anyone who would have rather had this but me. So what are you trying to do through me with it?” And that’s when I kind of discovered that if I’m going to be famous, then I’m going to do it with a purpose, and if I’m going to say words on a platform, then I want to say words that matter. And if people are going to look at my life then I want to point them to Jesus. And so that’s kind of my back story and what led me to today.
“If I’m going to be famous, then I’m going to do it with a purpose, and if I’m going to say words on a platform, then I want to say words that matter. And if people are going to look at my life, then I want to point them to Jesus.” – Sadie Robertson Huff
Called to Be a Sister and a Friend
After Dancing with the Stars, I actually went to a summer camp. And it was not with my church, it was with a friend of mine’s church. And there was a woman who was preaching that night, and I’d never seen that. She was preaching and she was just—everything she said was just so impactful. I can still remember the way that she moved around the stage and the way that she spoke with such authority and even the words that she said. I just remember sitting there with my jaw open saying, like, Wow, like this is the coolest thing that every word she’s saying matters. I want to do that.
I remember looking at my friend beside me and I said, “I’m going to do this one day.” And I remember they kind of laughed because that was not in my personality to do that at the time, I would be way too timid to do something like that. But I just kind of felt God calling me. And so I responded to her message and went forward to the altar and got on my knees before the Lord and just said, “God, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do with this fame. Honestly, this scares me.”
And I remember the Lord giving me this image, and it was like an Instagram account—which I know this sounds funny, but this really did change my life, this image of this Instagram account. It was my page, but you didn’t see me, you just saw Jesus. And so sweetly, I just felt the Lord saying, “I’m not calling you to be famous. I’m calling you to be a sister and a friend to those who don’t have a sister and a friend and point people to Me.”
Honestly, it just took all the pressure off. I didn’t feel like I had to be famous or I didn’t feel like I had to go land a role in a movie or get on the next TV show that was available. I just kind of had a peace of like, “I can do something bigger with this, something different with this.” And that’s kind of what I started to do.
It just gradually started happening. It wasn’t like an overnight thing. I made a YouTube video that was encouraging and that got seen by a lot of people. And I think that was kind of a start of the ministry moment and then just kept saying yes, then I just thought God was calling me. I ended up moving to Nashville for a little time and started a tour and wrote another book and different things. And so I think, you know, that’s for everybody. Whenever you feel called by God to do something, it actually says this in my new devotional book, Live on Purpose, I talk about how sometimes you’re going to get a revelation before you actually have a realization of what that actually means. So God might drop something in your spirit, and it might be a revelation like, “Hey, you’re going to speak, you’re going to preach,” or it could be completely different. “You’re going to go to nursing school,” or, “You’re going to write a book,” or, “You’re going to start the blog,” or whatever it is. “You’re going to go to this college.” And you might have this revelation, but you don’t actually know what that’s going to come out to be. You’re not actually going to have a realization of what He’s going to do through that until you just start saying yes.
Think about Noah. God gave him a revelation. “Hey, build an ark.” But Noah didn’t have a realization of why until it started raining. But thank God he started building whatever God said build, right? Instead of waiting and trying to just figure out like, Well, what is this? I don’t really know. Doesn’t apply to me, blah blah blah. And then it starts raining and you’re like, Man, I really should have built the ark. And I think so many times people forget that God’s on the journey to get to where you’re going, not just where you want to arrive. And I try to encourage people with that daily, even though that’s a hard thing, I think, to believe even for ourselves.
“I think so many times people forget that God’s on the journey to get to where you’re going, not just where you want to arrive. And I try to encourage people with that daily, even though that’s a hard thing, I think, to believe even for ourselves.” – Sadie Robertson Huff
Combatting Purpose Anxiety
My new devotional, it’s called Live on Purpose, it is 100 devotions for letting go of fear and following God. I wrote this devotional book because I think our generation has this thing that is actually a thing you can Google. It’s called purpose anxiety. And it’s basically just where we are so worried about what our purpose is and we can’t figure out what our purpose is or where our purposes are or if we even have a purpose that we get so anxious about it. And doing that is actually stalling us from living out our purpose and trying to encourage people that your purpose is not some mystery destination, that one day if you do all the steps right, you’re going to stumble upon. Your purpose is here and now. Your purpose is along the journey. And I just hope that I can help people overcome those anxieties and fears to actually just say yes to following God in the purpose that He has for them.
“Your purpose is here and now. Your purpose is along the journey.” – Sadie Robertson Huff
I think live on purpose really means living intentionally. It means focusing every day on how you can actually better someone that day or better yourself that day. I think if we don’t live intentionally and we don’t live on purpose, then we live our life without actually living it, right? Live is a verb. Live is something that should have an action behind it. But because life is just given to us, sometimes we just forget that we actually have to live it. We actually have to show up. We have to try.
And so I just hope that people would actually start living and living it on purpose and not letting fear of what people think of you or fear of what might happen or fear of what’s to come stop you from actually just fully going for today. I really do hope that it encourages people on a practical level, but also on a really intentional level, letting them know that their life is a lot bigger than they might think and a lot bigger than they might give themselves credit for. And the truth is, your life isn’t even just about you. It’s about the fact that God gave it to you. And so, you know, it’s been a gift, and use the gift well.
I think, you know, Jesus Calling and any devotional or any type of thing that’s putting out godly advice or even just like scripture in your day, that’s something that can help you be intentional with growing with God. And a lot of times, we have to ask ourselves, like, What in life are we prioritizing? If you’re going to prioritize social media, then that’s the first thing you’re going to do whenever you get on your phone. If you’re going to prioritize God, then that’s the first person that you’re going to want to talk to in your day. But it is something to intentionally seek out His Word, intentionally seeking out prayer, intentionally seeking out, speaking to Him and making sure that what you’re doing aligns with what your heart really desires.
Jesus Listens, December 12th:
You designed me to live in union with You. I’m thankful that this union does not negate who I am. On the contrary, it makes me more fully myself. I’ve discovered that when I try to live independently of You—even for short periods of time—I experience emptiness and dissatisfaction. But when I walk in the Light of Your Presence, You bless me with deep, satisfying Joy. I delight in praising You—exulting in Your righteousness.
Help me to find fulfillment in living close to You, yielding to Your purposes for me. Sometimes You lead me along paths that feel alien to me. At such times I need to cling to You— trusting that You know what You’re doing. When I follow You wholeheartedly, I can discover facets of myself that were previously hidden.
You know me intimately—far better than I know myself. In union with You, I am complete. In closeness to You, I am transformed more and more into the one You created me to be.
In Your beautiful, righteous Name,
I think even just reading, “when I walk in the Light of Your Presence, You blessed me with deep, satisfying Joy,” that what we’re seeing in our world today is great sorrow, great sadness, a lot of fear and a lot of temporary highs and moments of happiness, but nothing sustaining. But when we’re in the presence of Jesus, then we have a deep, satisfying joy. And I hope people can read that and actually understand that that is what Jesus offers to everyone, that He can be their deep, satisfying joy and their life, and not just another temporary high that the world has to offer, but true joy that sustains even in the hard times.
To change the world for this time is exactly what it means to be a part of being in the light of the world. And so just go out there, live on purpose, and don’t let the fears hold you back.
If you’d like to hear more stories about purposefully sharing with the world, check out our interview with David Crowder.
Dan Allender: If we can get a sense of how our harm actually creates a trajectory toward who we’re not only meant to be, but how we’re meant to offer the goodness of God in the land of the living, then we will be free not just from shame and despair, but in many ways from what evil intended for that past harm to bring us, which is fear, hatred, a sense of despair. But when we begin to see that that is the context for the life of God to shine, we’re then put in a position where our faces are lifted. We’re not brought to shame, where we actually can begin to encounter what it means to be beloved. And in that freedom, we actually have not only new power, new purpose, but new joy.