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Christine Caine: The Secret to Being a Great Leader

Christine Caine: The Secret to Being a Great Leader

When it comes to leadership, there are a lot of examples of what to do and what not to do. It’s easy to pick out good and bad leaders throughout history. But what truly distinguishes a great leader from a good one? 

You could ask a million different people that question and come up with a million different answers. With so many points of view out there, we turned to a leader who has spent the last several decades trying to find out that answer for herself. Christine Caine is a speaker, a Bible teacher, author and an activist. Along with founding the ministry Propel Women with her husband Nick, they also started the A21 campaign, an organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking around the world. It’s safe to say, she’s learned a thing or two about being a leader. 

Here’s what she had to say about being a great leader:

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?

Two things jumped to my mind — and I don’t know that you’re going to want to hear these, young leaders — but truly trust God and be patient. Allow God to open doors and opportunities and to put you somewhere. In an era of being encouraged to build our own platforms, build our own brands, build yourself — be very careful that you don’t try to outrun God and put yourself in a place prematurely that God did not intend for you to be at just yet.

Because if you have the spotlight on you before the character of Christ is developed in you, the light that is on you will destroy you. The light that is in you is only forged in the sanctification process, and that’s through the hard years of hanging in there, being overlooked, being unapplauded, being ignored, being put on the side. It’s those times that God is building character on the inside of you. It’s those times that you’re learning to do it for God and not for people. It’s the time you’re learning to be a God pleaser, not a people pleaser.

But if you prematurely get into the game of comparison and competition and the world’s success measures, you’re not going to make it. You’re going to be taken. There is a real enemy. We forget that there is a real enemy of our soul that wants to still kill and destroy the purpose of God in our life.

Tell me about the beginning of your leadership journey. When did you first feel called into this role?

Well, you know, I certainly wasn’t the fastest one out of the gate. I started A21. Nobody would have picked me as the most likely to succeed and be doing what I’m doing today. I was way overlooked, way in the background, because of years of anonymity and obscurity. And I was born and raised in ministry before there was ever any social media. So I couldn’t be scrolling through anybody else’s life because there was no device to be scrolling with and there was no internet. But it was a grace because it taught me to lay a hold of God. It taught me to know the Holy Spirit. It taught me to trust God, to open doors that no man can shut. It taught me to trust that promotion does not come from the north, south, east or west. It comes from God.

It taught me the difference between being marked by God or marked by man. And if you can’t tell the difference between being marked by God or marked by man, then when the enemy gets you where he wants you, he will take you out. Scripture says that our job, the only labor that we’re supposed to actually do, is to believe God. But here is the issue: there are many unbelieving believers. We don’t truly believe what God says about us. And that’s why we don’t do often what God says we can do because we don’t believe that God is who he says he is, that God would use the kind of people that God can only use, which is flawed, broken people, to bring himself glory.

See, my job’s not to bring me glory, it’s to bring God’s glory. People have said to me constantly, “Look what God’s doing through Propel Women or A21 with your life.” I laugh immediately and tell them that I am the least qualified. I’m not just making this up. I know and God knows.

So nobody has to go, “Chris Caine isn’t really that good” and “Chris Caine really isn’t that smart” and “Chris Caine isn’t really that qualified.” I know. And that’s not even the half of it. I’ve got a whole lot more junk on myself that you don’t even know. But what I do have a revelation of is who God is and the kind of people that God uses.

And to the best of my ability, as much as I can, I try to walk in obedience to God. I try to honor God, but I fail. Everybody does, that’s the issue. And this side of eternity, I always will. I always say to people, “What, am I so healed that I don’t need Jesus? Am I so perfect that I’m not gonna need forgiveness? Do I never say anything wrong that I’m never gonna need to confess?” I think it’s because I’ve got this awareness of my own flawed humanity, about this incredible greatness of God, who has only ever used imperfect people. God has always only used highly unlikely people to do highly unlikely things.

Some people doubt they’re being called because of obstacles or limitations they face. What advice do you have for them?

Look at the story of Moses. The Lord told Moses to set His people free, and Moses says, “Well, who am I?” I’m thinking God’s probably thinking, who cares who you are? Moses came up with excuses like he wasn’t eloquent enough to speak. And the Lord tells him that his ability to speak was never going to be the deal breaker on Him parting the Red Sea.

If I want God to do signs and wonders and miracles in our lives and if I want to see God do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond anything I ever ask, hope or think, if we truly believe that my eye hasn’t seen, my ear hasn’t heard nor has it entered into my heart, the things that God has for me, then it doesn’t matter how perfect I am. It’s never going to be enough. So I can accept that I’m not enough. I know that I’m not good enough. I’m not talented enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not eloquent enough. I’m not connected enough. I know that. But I serve the God that is more than enough. And I think the only difference between me and other people who are way more gifted than me, way more talented than me, is I just believe it.

So when people say, “God shouldn’t be using her.” I’m like — I know, I know. But this is how God gets glory. The bottom line is I can’t be anything else. My start in life was so broken from being abandoned in a hospital. I don’t have a name on my birth certificate. It says: “child’s name, unnamed.” That’s how I started, followed by 12 years of sexual abuse. I can’t start over. So all that God has to work with is what I am and where I’ve been and what my story is and the narrative of my life.

But it’s not that God’s in heaven in shock, falling off the throne going, “I had no idea. I wish someone had told me before I called Christine that she had such a broken past because I would have picked someone that was more perfect.” I mean, of course that’s absurd, but that’s how we treat God.

When did you first feel called into leadership?

I’ll tell you a funny story about when I felt called to start A21. I’m standing in Greece. This is 2007, just before the economic collapse in Greece. So Greece is in a financial mess about to bankrupt the earth. There is so much corruption throughout every institution in the country. That’s why it’s just so economically collapsed. So much corruption. The church is very embryonic, very, very small there, very little light.

Here I was, this chick from Australia. I didn’t even know what human trafficking was at that point. I had not learned much about it. I didn’t have the kind of money that it takes to do this sort of thing. I had just popped out my second kid at 40 years old. So I’m looking for a purple heart. I’m not looking to start another ministry. I’m like, are you kidding me? And I remember distinctly where I was.

I was having this conversation with God, saying, “But God, I’m a woman. But God, I’m from Australia and that’s really far from Europe. But God, I don’t have this kind of money. But God, I just had a second child. But God, I’m 40. But God, I don’t know anything about trafficking. But God, Greece is on the verge of economic collapse. But God, the church is embryonic over here. But all my but, but, but, but, but…”

And in retrospect, God was probably just laughing and thinking, “Wow, I had no idea. I’m so glad you told me, Christine, because I didn’t know what the economic situation was in Greece and didn’t even realize. Did I miss your baby shower? I didn’t even know your birthday. ” We laugh, but that’s how we treat Him!

And it sounds really pious. It actually sounds really holy to people. They think, “Oh, she’s so humble.” But the root of it is actually pride, because the root of it is saying, my limitations are bigger than God’s supernatural ability to do something astounding through my life. And so as pious and holy and humble as it sounds, it’s actually narcissistic and very prideful, because it says I actually have the power in my limitations to limit what God could do in and through my life and you know, last I checked he was God and I wasn’t. So I don’t have that kind of power.

If I truly believe He’s sovereign, all-powerful, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, all those nice big theological words, then why don’t I act like He is? That even despite my brokenness He could use me just like He’s used every single other flawed person in history.

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