AVAIL Media Host, Virgil Sierra, recently sat down with Lisa Bevere for the AVAIL Leadership Podcast. They discussed the value of mentoring, leaving a legacy and why the church should reclaim the concept of godmothers and godfathers. To listen to the entire conversation—and others like it—subscribe to the AVAIL Leadership Podcast.
Virgil: Can you just share a little bit of your story, Lisa—who you are, so that the people connected can understand a little bit more about you?
Lisa: I was raised in an incredibly dysfunctional family. Our family was doing dysfunctional long before the Kardashians figured out to make money out of it. I had never really heard the gospel until I was 21 years of age. I had become everything I did not want to be in just a short amount of time while I was on my own in college.
I met this man named John Bevere, and he invited me to a Bible study picnic. For the very first time I heard about the love of God. I did not grow up in the church. I grew up thinking Jesus is angry at me. So, when John shared that God loved me so much that He sent His son to die for me, that God had told John to ask me out, to share the gospel—I grabbed ahold of it with both hands, and on my very first date with John, I was born again, filled with God’s Holy Spirit and healed.
Virgil: You and your husband, John, have been leading together for a long time. So, what would you say are the biggest challenges or struggles in that in leading together?
Lisa: I had to overcome a lot of fears, and I had to learn that I could have a concern and bring it to my husband. I had to learn how to say things in a way they could be heard because John is very visionary. And, so, when I would come to him, instead of putting up roadblocks or obstacles, I would have to come to him and say, “Listen, I am for you. I am with you. But here’s a concern I see that you may not have noticed.”
My husband is very direct, and so he would say to me, “Don't hint, but don’t be disrespectful.” If I felt like I wasn’t heard, I would say it, then I would layer it with nagging or a threat or whatever. It was counterproductive. So, I had to learn, as a good leader, to lend my strength without compromising my input by overloading it with emotion.
Virgil: You mentioned two regrets. One was to let John make more mistakes. The other?
Lisa: I came from a broken family, and I was raised not to trust men. They’ll always leave you. They'll never be there for you. Be independent, get an education, get a good job. I did not follow my career path. I studied international economics at the University of Arizona while I was majoring in partying and suntanning. But I ended up going a completely different path, standing alongside John. For many years alongside was behind, which I was great with. I was like, I’m going to love my husband this much, but now no more, because what if he hurts me? What if he leaves? I don’t want to give him my whole heart.
Virgil: That’s related to something that you shared earlier that’s on your heart—this idea that in this culture and the season of the world, it seems like men are under attack. And you’re talking about the role that that women can play in the lives of the men that are in their lives. Can you touch on that?
Lisa: Well, going back to the Genesis, God created this man in a perfect world and gave him the ability to name everything, and then the man realized that there was something within him that needed to be outside of him, that there was something that was hidden within that he needed to have a conversation with. So, God created woman as the answer to the very first problem—that it is not good for man to be alone. Our culture is saying that men are not good. Men are jerks. Men are bad—toxic masculinity. I think that there are branches of toxicity in what our culture might call masculinity. Absolutely. But looking at the masculinity of a man, I should not call that toxic any more than I would call the femininity of a woman toxic. Both masculinity and femininity are God-given.
Virgil: I want to ask you about your book, Godmothers. It’s connected to all these things we’re talking about. You write that the concept of godmothers has been lost throughout time. Talk to us a little bit about your book.
Lisa: I am half Sicilian, but this is not about mafia. This is a dynamic that the early church understood was necessary. In the early people had godparents because, when they were born again, they lost everything—family, social status, their place in the temple. It wasn’t just a new attribution. It was a major shift. So, godparents were those that came alongside of them and said, “I take personal responsibility for your growth.” I’m a woman. So, I wrote as a godmother, but Paul was a godfather to Timothy. He also wrote, “Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers” (1 Corinthians 4:15). We fathers and mothers want more for their children than they ever have for themselves.
Virgil: In the book you talk a lot about mentoring and discipleship from a position of experience, from one further down the road. Something I know you’ve mentioned over and over again, and it’s evident in your ministry, is a commitment to discipleship. Would you speak on that?
Lisa: Jesus didn’t say, “Have people pray the prayer.” He said, “Make disciples.” A disciple is somebody who practices the disciplines of Jesus Christ. And we don’t necessarily understand what that looks like just by a Sunday service. Jesus had His 500. Then He had His 50. Then He had His 12. Then He had His three. There are people who you can look and say, “Hey, follow me as I follow Christ.” If you came to me and said, “Lisa, I want to write a book.” I can help you with that. If you said, “Lisa, I want to build my marriage.” I could help you with that. “Lisa, I want to build a message.” Then, there are other things that are not in my lane—not something I’ve got as a strength. I can look at my life and say, “These are the areas I know are strong. And then these are the areas where I’m working still—don't follow me in this area, but do follow me in this area.”
Virgil: Lisa, I want to just say on behalf of the AVAIL team, myself and my wife, Gislaine, we're so thankful for your life and for your ministry. As a young pastor, who’s pastoring together with my wife and raising up young kids and being a pastor’s kid myself, we honor you, we thank you for what you’re doing.
Lisa: Thank you so much, Virgil.
For more information on Lisa Bevere and Messenger International, visit messengerinternational.org. Lisa’s new book is Godmothers: Why You Need One. How to Be One.
This article was extracted from Issue 4 (Winter 2021) of the AVAIL Journal. Claim your free annual subscription here.
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