At the Dauntless conference held on Sunday, August 27th, this was my full address:
Pastors, esteemed guests, members of the press, family, friends, volunteers good evening.
I don’t know where to start. I’ve learned from experience that this phrase always signals the beginning of long, boring speeches. So I will not use it today. I will simply have very many different starts.
I will start first of all by saying thank you. You could have chosen to be anywhere else on a Sunday afternoon, but you chose to be here to support me. I cannot thank you enough. I also want to thank God, the one who made everything possible in the first place.
It is quite interesting that I of all people would be hosting a programme themed: ‘Dauntless.’ For years, I had struggled with fear in a few areas of my life. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to exaggerate my experience to be extra-emotional. I have never been the timid, can’t speak up for herself type. Knowing God early helped build my esteem from a young age. But there were a few areas that fear reigned supreme. One of them was literally a daily journey on my way to work. I had known for a long time that God wanted me to preach in the bus. But I couldn’t. I could speak up if the conductor owed me change or the driver was over speeding. If there was an interesting conversation about the government or the state of things in Nigeria, you would hear my voice. Loud and clear. But when it came to preaching, it was different matter altogether.
I guess most of us aren’t afraid of everything, more often than not, it’s one thing that would not let us be all that God has called us to be.
Your one thing is probably different from mine:
That abusive relationship you refuse to leave because you’re unsure of what the future holds.
That dream you refuse to work on because you’re afraid it might not turn out as you hoped.
That ministry you won’t take heed to because you are worried about every other thing.
That business you won’t kick off because you’ve failed before.
That pregnancy you won’t rejoice over because you lost the last baby.
Perhaps your ‘one fear’ is so unique, I did not even mention here. That’s alright. This message is for you still
There are few things that I believe have helped me overcome fear in my life.
Chief among them was coming to the realization that Christ is the purpose of my life. What truly defines me isn’t whether I fail or succeed in my efforts. What defines me is Christ. I am special because I’ve been purchased with the blood of the lamb. Whether I succeed or fail, whether I am popular or despised, whether I live or die, only one thing counts for eternity. That Jesus died for me, so that I can live for him. I don’t have a reputation to uphold, the one who sent me can defend himself.
The second was learning to do things even when I felt afraid. Forgive the weird analogy, but fear is just a feeling, like feeling pressed. The moment you make a move in the right direction, it disappears. By God’s grace, I’ve preached to more people in the bus this year than in my entire life put together. But I began by doing it afraid. The next few words I will say might sound like cliché’s but they are clichés because they are true. You will never know if you never try. The worst you can do is fail. And if you’ve failed before, you are halfway there. You’re less likely to fail again. Let failure teach you the right lessons; to stretch yourself, to push for excellence, to improve, to stay in God’s word and insist on what it says about you, to surround yourself with the right counsel. If you’re really afraid of failure, you will keep trying, because refusing to try means that you have failed already. Let failure teach you the difference between what you can do for yourself and what the Holy Spirit can do through you.
This leads me to my third point. In a sense, I guess you can say that there is a kind of fear that makes the others seem so small; a kind of Uncertainty that swallows up other uncertainties. A big ‘If’ that swallows other ‘what ifs’:
I learned to replace : What if I preach to them and they don’t listen? With, If I don’t, they may never know the saving grace of Jesus.
In place of: What if I start this business and fail? Think: ‘If I do this, what about the problems I’d be solving, the people I’d be empowering?
What if I quit my job, and don’t succeed at anything else. But I did quit. If I didn’t, I may never have written Selfies With Bible Girls, or reached over 50,000 people with lajuiren.com.
I moved from: What if I can’t overcome this habit, will God still love me. To understanding that I had already overcome as a result of his love for me. That I could live up to his standard because his spirit was enabling to do just that on my inside. And that if I could, I could teach others to do the same.
If those ‘ifs’ never replaced ‘what ifs’ I may never have heard comments like this one I received a few days ago:
‘Laju, thank you. I struggled with pornography for six years until I met you. Now I’ve been free for several months.’
Or the now regular:
‘You blog saved me from the wrong relationship.’
Or fast becoming popular:
‘Selfies With Bible Girls made me see myself differently’
There is yet another:
‘I was afraid that I would lose this baby because of what happened last time. But you strengthened my faith.’
Don’t you see? Your life is too big to be all about you! People need what you carry, and for their sakes, you cannot afford to be afraid.
I told you that I would have various starts. My second start will be from my new book, the critically acclaimed, Selfies With Bible Girls. I will tell you a little bit about the project, then conclude with a short book reading.
It is a project that I know without a shadow of doubt was a hundred percent God inspired and is unarguably one of the most dauntless things I have ever done.
I remember the first time we got a quotation on how much it would cost to get it printed.
My husband looked at me and said: ‘This is really dauntless.’ But he has been on my case to live above my fears for so long, he had no choice but to support my dauntless move and many others that came after that. Like driving the car with our one year old even though I’m fairly new at it.
Back to Our Dauntless Pursuit of excellence in publishing Selfies With Bible Girls. It was nearly ten times all the savings I had accumulated in my five years of journalism. Over four times what we thought it would cost originally. For someone just recovering from the fear to doing things on a major scale, this was the ultimate test.
It could have cost less to do less.
Shave off a few hundreds of thousands by making it paperback.
Make it a little cheaper by printing the pictures in black and white.
Forget the cream burnt quality paper and simply go for less.
But I’ve learned that it is more expensive to sacrifice value on the altar of cost.
But we didn’t just want you to have a book, we wanted you to have an experience. Something that excites you when you hold it in your hands or flip through the pages. Something that you can’t ignore on the outside, because you should not ignore it on the inside.
And so we said yes. And God began to provide for each stage in the process.
You don’t have to know tomorrow, you just have to trust the One who does!
If I had known what it would take to get it published, I may have been too afraid to start. But I trusted God. The same God who helped me finish a 50,000-word material in less than four weeks, saw me through every stage. He brought helpers my way.
Even people who had never even met me began to pre-order books that they had not seen-that no one, not even I had held in my hands.
But we trusted God, worked hard and stayed confident. Today, this is the result!
To God be all the glory.
I believe that this is the best opportunity to encourage you to join hands with us in ensuring that more people can read this life changing book.
God sees my heart. If I could afford to put this in the hands of every woman I know, I would.
As I conclude with a short book reading, ushers are currently on the aisle with envelopes and slips, please signal to them if you would like to launch the book.
There are women in broken homes who need to take a selfie with Abigail.
There’s someone waiting for a baby who can identify with Sarah and Elizabeth.
Someone who is considering abortion that should take a selfie with Jochebed.
Someone who recently faced tragedy that needs Ruth’s company.
Out there, there is prostitute who can find hope in the story of Rahab.
A young, single student who can learn wisdom from Mary and Rebecca.
An orphan, who should take a ‘Cinderella’ selfie with Esther.
Someone battling a long term illness who can draw faith from the woman with the issue of blood.
A divorcee whose life will change when she meets the woman at the well.
And a widow who will find joy in Anna’s story.
But cannot afford, Selfies With Bible Girls.
When you partner with us, you enable us to give free copies, and sell it at a subsidized rate to such precious people.
Perhaps you know a workaholic who should take a selfie with Martha.
A feminist who can glean wisdom from the daughters of Zelophehad.
A super girl who can relate with Deborah.
A woman in ministry who Priscilla can mentor.
A daughter in law that can learn from Ruth.
A Mother in Law that should learn from Naomi.
A housewife who should take a selfie with Eunice.
A grandmother that can relate with Lois.
A new convert with a past that Mary Magdalene can strengthen
Get them a copy of Selfies With Bible Girls.
I’ll take my short reading now from paged 297: Caught in the Act.
You can signal to the Ushers if you have any financial contributions
(Go to book)
Lastly, I’ll say this:
We aren’t Dauntless because we can try anything and damn the consequences.
We aren’t Dauntless because we feel good in our own skin and love ourselves with an unending love.
We aren’t dauntless because of how pretty, smart or highly connected we are.
We aren’t Dauntless because we haven’t been hurt and have no idea how it feels.
We aren’t dauntless because we have been hardened by life’s experiences. Experiences shape us, but they don’t make us.
Living Dauntless is beyond making a name for ourselves in the sands of time.
The sands will pass away, the flowers will fade. Just like beauty, intelligence and connections. But one thing will last forever. That is faith in One Person.
He is the one who has loved us with an everlasting love. Regardless of our experiences, adequacies or inadequacies. He empowers us with the spirit of power, love and a sound mind. His name is Jesus, the Dauntless One. And we are dauntless when we live for him!