An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Claudine Broussard

This is the second interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted’ Life (Our first interview featured author Jaquelle Crowe and can be found here). This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture. This interview features Claudine Broussard. Claudine is a young writer from the East Coast. She is the co-author of Seeking Jesus: Stepping into a Life of Bold Surrender, Freedom, and Deep Joy (you can read our review of the book here). As copywriter/designer at Forward Marketing, she partners with churches and businesses to amplify their message. When not writing, she can be found playing Celtic and classical music, devouring a good book, or vending at a farmer’s market.

Claudine, would you begin by sharing your testimony of how you came to saving faith in Jesus Christ? Who and what did God use in your life to point you to Christ?

Claudine: I’ve been so blessed to grow up in a Christ-centered home. My parents created a climate saturated with joy, love, and the truth of God’s Word. One of the mottos we live by is, “When the doors of the church are open, you should be there!” Because of their faithfulness in taking me and my siblings to church, I encountered the gospel at an early age.

When I was just 3 years old, I recognized my need for a Saviour. My dad and I sat on white plastic lawn chairs as he explained the gospel to me. After he finished, I prayed to accept Christ as my personal Saviour. A weight of guilt was lifted off my heart. We walked up the stairs together to tell my mom, and she told me that the angels were having a party because of my decision (Luke 15:10). I remember being filled with new joy and jumping up and down in excitement. I’m so thankful for how God used His Word and my parents’ faithfulness to reach me with the gospel at a young age.

You have co-authored a book with Jason Homan, Seeking Jesus: Stepping into a Life of Bold Surrender, Freedom, and Deep Joy. Oftentimes, people pit surrender against joy. To surrender oneself makes for a life of drudgery, not joy. How do you take a different approach in this book?

Claudine: I can definitely relate to the struggle to surrender completely to God. There have been seasons in my life when I covered my ears to block out the voice of God. With one hand, I held Him at arm’s length. With the other hand, I clutched my goals and dreams in a tightly closed fist. I refused to surrender to His will. Yet a nagging sense of guilt, of things left undone, dogged my steps.

At the heart of my struggle was a lack of trust in God. I did not believe that He was truly good, truly wise, and truly generous. I feared what He would do with my life if I gave Him everything. What if I ended up as an old maid or a missionary to Fiji? (My apologies to any missionaries to Fiji 🙂 ) Yet, time after time, God patiently spoke to my heart. Not with a harsh command, not with a lengthy lecture, but with a gentle call to surrender. His Spirit would move in my heart, convicting me of my rebellion. Sooner or later, I would choose to surrender.

And I discovered a fascinating truth. Surrender to God gives me both freedom and real joy! Instead of trudging miserably through a swamp of disobedience, I can walk freely and happily down the path of His will. In our book, we explore what it means to truly surrender to God. Serving God is an amazing adventure, and it’s definitely not a life of drudgery. He is absolutely good and incredibly generous. Yes, it can be very difficult to surrender to God. But there is no sweeter place to be than in the center of His will.

In chapter 2 of Seeking Jesus, you share the story of how God used your time at Bible camp to call you into Christian ministry. How does learning to submit to God relate to the biblical concept of stewardship?

Claudine: The foundational truth behind both stewardship and surrender is that we belong to Christ. Often, we struggle to surrender because we have an incorrect perspective. We have assumed ownership of the time, talents, and treasures that belong to Someone else. When God asks us to surrender something, we feel that He is asking for a personal favour. “After all, it’s mine!

Yet, as a Christian, I know that my life is not my own. It was bought with the precious blood of Christ. Stewardship is not a favour I give to Him. Rather, it is a privilege that He gives to me. For the years I walk this earth, I get to borrow this body—to read with these eyes, sing with this voice, and write with these hands. I get to use His stuff, spend His time, and employ His gifts. To be a faithful steward of these, I need to submit to His plan for my life.

With a call into Christian ministry, how did you come to the realization God had given you the skill and platform of writing? How have you stewarded this talent?

Claudine: In the spring of 2015, Pastor Jason Homan started Forward Magazine, an online magazine for conservative Christians. I enjoyed reading the first few issues, but the headline that caught my eye read, “We need your help!” The editor went on to request article and photo submissions. I thought, “What if I submitted something? Could I write something good enough to be published?”

One afternoon, a wave of inspiration flooded my mind. I sat down and wrote an article on rosemary—how its fragrance reminded me of the fragrance our lives can be to the Lord (2 Corinthians 2:15). I found it both challenging and delightful to capture in words the beauty of a simple idea, a transient impression. I nervously submitted my article to Forward Magazine, and I was so happy to see it in print.

Over the next year, I wrote several more articles for Forward. I gratefully realized that God had given me a gift and a love for writing. After I overcame the initial writer’s block, I absolutely loved the creative process. Words gave me power—to express, to create, to paint a bare-bones idea in a thousand different hues. With words, I could shape ideas and define truth.

Last summer, God provided a part-time job which has grown to include writing for church blogs, marketing, and graphic design. In the fall, Jason Homan approached me and asked if I would like to co-author a book with him. We began last October and released our book, Seeking Jesus, on June 7. Throughout those months of writing and editing and marketing, I experienced the grace of God and my need for Him in a deeper way than ever before. God has been teaching me not to rely on my gifts, but rather to rely on Him. His grace is more than enough for my need.

Young people today are sometimes portrayed as entitled beings. However, as Christians, we know we are not our own (Romans 14:7–8, 1 Cor. 6:19–20). How does the understanding that we exist to glorify God and live for Him impact your writing?

Claudine: I am simply a steward of the hours, resources, and abilities He has lent me. Each starry night I gaze upon, each melody that lingers in my ears, each sentence I type—these are gifts of His grace. Without Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5). I cannot touch a life with pixels on a screen. I cannot write words that matter. I cannot discern what my readers need right now. But the glorious truth is this…He can, and He wants to use me! God doesn’t need my help to carry out His plans. He could progress a lot faster without my stumbling efforts. Yet because He loves me, God wants me to be involved. What an incredible privilege and joy it is to live for the glory of our Saviour! For He is so worthy.

An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Jaquelle Crowe

This is the first interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted Life. This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture. This first interview is with Jaquelle Crowe. For those of you who may not be familiar, Jaquelle Crowe is a gifted 19-year-old writer and speaker from eastern Canada. She is the editor-in-chief of TheRebelution.com and a regular contributor to desiringGod.orgThe Gospel CoalitionUnlocking the Bible, and Beliefnet. She is the author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway), which releases this month.

Jaquelle, thank you for your willingness to take part in this interview. Before we discuss your first published book, I would like for you to share with us your story as a writer. First, what gave you such a passion for writing? Along with that, when did you start to get serious about your work as a writer?

Jaquelle: My love for writing really started with a love for storytelling. As a little kid, I was constantly making up elaborate stories with my dolls (even before I could write) and as I got older, this naturally led into a love for writing these stories down. Non-fiction was something I dabbled in throughout elementary school but got passionate about the summer I turned 12. This was when I started a blog (largely from the encouragement of my parents) and began to record reflections of what I was learning in God’s Word and in his world. I was captivated by the art of making beautiful sentences and drawn to the capacity of non-fiction to tell truth compellingly.

I started to get increasingly more serious about writing when I was 16 and formally decided to pursue it vocationally when I was 17. Shortly before I turned 18, God provided an idea for a book and an incredible literary agent – and then a few months later, he provided a publisher and a book contract!

Now, here you are at 19 years old with your first published book, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms Our Teen Years. What were your motivating factors in writing a book on this subject?

Jaquelle: For me, the desire to write a book existed before the idea of what book to write. Because of that, I found myself routinely asking, “What kind of book should I write?” And eventually the question turned into, “If I could only write one book, what would it be?” And I realized it was this: a book for fellow Christian teenagers who wanted encouragement and instruction on how to follow Jesus as a teen. This was the book I wanted to read. Since I started the book at 17, it was (and still is) deeply relevant for the stage of life I was at.

Furthermore, I knew so many teens who were pursuing holiness or wanted to pursue holiness, and they were left to read books by adults and for adults. I also knew teens who were struggling in their Christian walk, who wanted to read something written for them, something robust but not exhaustive, something theological yet practical, something fun but deep. They wanted something specific – a book on how the gospel transforms the season of life they’re in right now.

Your book is said to be a “deeply theological and yet practical and accessible book on how the gospel radically transforms every aspect of the teen years”. As a young adult and as a youth pastor, this book timely. Even for teenagers who profess to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, there seems to be a disconnect between their life as a Christian and their relationships and habits. Why do you think that disconnect exists?

Jaquelle: I think culture plays a big part in this disconnect. They’ve subtly fed teenagers the lie that Christianity is not transformative. You can call yourself a Christian and do whatever you want.

Sadly, I think the church has played a part as well. There are often stunningly low spiritual expectations for teens – it’s thought that if they’re coming to church and showing some positive interest in Christianity, they’re living a gospel-centered life. But this is in radical opposition to the demanding, self-sacrificing, totally revolutionizing message of the cross.

In D.A. Carson’s endorsement of your book, he remarks, “In a culture where many young people feel entitled and struggle through the swamps of victimization, Jaquelle Crowe calls her fellow teens to Christian discipline…in response to the gospel of grace.” Based on your study of and meditation on Scripture, how does the gospel counteract an entitled mindset?

Jaquelle: From beginning to end, the gospel is a message of grace. It’s a story of us getting what we don’t deserve. We never deserved mercy, forgiveness, redemption. We never even deserved creation. We exist purely and solely because of the goodness of God. Entitlement is a self-focused framework that rejects this truth, that hates grace, and that boasts in itself. I really believe it’s an enemy of the gospel.

Where many young people are tempted to buy into an entitled mindset, you seem to work from an entrusted framework. One of the posts on your website sums it up, “That the day you hold in your grasp doesn’t belong to you. That your time is not your own. That every minute you breathe, every morning you wake up, every day you live is God’s. That you are only a steward of the time God has given you, and that you are entrusted to care for it well.” How has understanding this biblical truth affected your teenage years?

Jaquelle: The realization that my time is not my own completely changed the lens through which I viewed my teen years. I only have one life, one youth, and one fast and fleeting opportunity to make it count. I’m accountable to God for how I use this life, this uniquely precious resource he’s given me, and that means I don’t have the “freedom” (if we could call it that) to live for myself. I must live for his fame. I must use this life for his glory. It has to be about him, not me. And that perspective organically changed what I watched, what I read, how I treated my family, what kinds of friends I had, what I bought, how I dressed, how I spoke, and how I viewed things like dating and school and work.

The biblical concept of stewardship comes up not only in your life generally; it also comes up in your writing. As God has entrusted you with a gift, you are equipping and entrusting others to use the gifts God has given them. You are the co-founder of a program for young writers that you lead with Brett Harris called “The Young Writers Workshop”. Could you share with us what this program is about?

Jaquelle: Absolutely! The Young Writers Workshop is a monthly membership program for any writer aged 10-25 (from writing novices to publishing pros). We create exclusive content to motivate, encourage, and equip young writers to accomplish the individual goals and dreams they have. We interview experts, teach mechanics and skills, critique writing and book proposals, host Q&A events, facilitate a private online community for young writers, and lots more.

Brett and I firmly believe that writing is a powerful tool to serve God and that young writers have a unique capacity to wield this tool well. In the Young Writers Workshop, we teach them how to do that – write well and reach others for the glory of God.