I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need the reminder that life is not all about me. Even in the midst of the holiday season, when we try our hardest to give generously and lean into a slow and sacred waiting, I can still find ways to ensure the world spins in my favor. If this sounds like you, I think you’ll LOVE Sharon Hodde Miller’s new book, Free of Me. Check out this interview with her and leave a comment at the end to win a copy of the book. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? I am a Southerner–North Carolinian, born and bred!–and I earned both my undergraduate and M.Div. degrees at Duke. I’ve spent the last 15 years in some form of ministry, writing, and speaking, in addition to getting my PhD on women and calling. My husband is a pastor, and we have two little boys with a baby girl on the way (!!!!!).
I feel an especially strong pull toward writing, and I have been blogging at SheWorships.com for about 10 years now. I have also had the honor of contributing to places like Her.meneutics, Christianity Today, She Reads Truth, Relevant, and Propel. I have a particular heart for women in the church, and one of my favorite challenges is taking the deep things of God and making them accessible to the average follower of Christ. Nearly everything I write gets run through that filter.
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? Free of Me is, very simply, about self-forgetfulness. It’s about the freedom of focusing on God and others, instead of yourself. It looks at the different areas of our lives that we are tempted to make “about us”–family, calling, possessions, faith–and it examines the consequences of this misplaced focus.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? Several years ago, I was wrestling with some of my own insecurities–specifically, my need to be seen and affirmed in my work–but all the traditional “remedies” for insecurity weren’t helping. I knew God loved me and created me for a purpose. I understood my identity in Christ, and I believed it. And yet it wasn’t freeing me the way I thought it should.
Over time I came to the realization that insecurity has two causes. The first gets the most attention: low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is an inability to see yourself the way God sees you, and the gospel has an answer for it. We respond to the lies and wounds of low self-esteem with truth and affirmation from God’s Word.
However, there is a second cause of insecurity that we almost never address, which is self-preoccupation. Self-preoccupation raises the stakes on everything in your life, by making it all a referendum on your worth. It is the brokenness of making things about you that are not about you, and that was my problem. I didn’t need higher self-esteem; I needed to focus on myself less. Once I pinpointed that issue, and began the work of dealing with it, it changed everything for me.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? I hope my book will accomplish two things. First, I hope it will name a struggle that many of us have misdiagnosed. For many of us, our struggle is not simply low self-esteem, but self-preoccupation, and all the positive self-talk in the world can’t help it. So it’s important to know the difference.
Second, I hope readers will experience a new level of freedom and purpose in their lives. When we turn the gospel into little more than a self-help project, we take a lot of the power out of our faith. I want to help restore readers to a more Christ-centered vision for their lives, by inviting them into a bigger story that is not, fundamentally, about them.
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book? The beauty of this message is that it prepared me for the writing and publishing process. Authoring a book, and then releasing it into the world, is a risky thing to do. It’s easy for your identity to get entangled in the successes or failures of that journey. Thankfully, this book equipped me with the tools to receive it all in a spiritually healthy way. I truly do believe that my work is not about me, but for the love of God and others, and that conviction is both a freedom and a protection of sorts.
How and where can we find you on the internet? Instagram: @sharonhmiller, Twitter: @SHoddeMiller, Facebook: www.facebook.com/
Yup, she’s the real deal, friends! Leave a comment here or on the Instagram post to win a copy of Free of Me. What about this interview with Sharon make you excited to grab a copy of her book? What intrigues you? Contest ends Monday, November 27th. Good luck!
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