The Dream of You: A candid chat with Jo Saxton

You ever have God do a 1-2 on you? I’m talking about a time you walked into something expecting one thing, to have Him completely turn it around and do another?

This happened to me when I picked up a copy of The Dream of You by author, speaker and leader Jo Saxton. I went into the book thinking, “Oh this will be a nice read” and I left the book changed. I left the book with my identity renewed. I left the book with a NEW NAME!

So imagine my delight when I was offered the opportunity to interview this powerful woman of God. I have been following Jo for some time. Can I be honest with ya’ll though and tell you what first drew me to her….ok lean in and let me whisper it to you…Here it is…I was overcome with emotion to see her brown face being prominently displayed with authority, grace and power in an arena where there few. I rejoiced that she was in this place of influence to break barriers and to build bridges because indeed we are one family in the body of Christ. Since then I’ve just grown to love her. She shares the gospel in a way that is funny, candid and approachable. So without further ado, let’s hear from Jo as we talk about her new book, The Dream of You.

Jo, I’m so excited to be holding a copy of The Dream of You in my hands. Tell us, what prompted you to write this book?

When I spoke at conferences or in coaching sessions I met many women wrestling in their faith. They loved God, they sought to be faithful, but they could never get past their past. Or they were confused about who they were and their place in a rapidly changing world. A number of women felt they had lost their voice, some felt they never had it to lose. They were stuck and God has so much more for them! I wanted to put something into people’s hands that showed them that God can rewrite our stories. I want to help them rediscover God’s dream for their lives and His vision for their purpose, so they can live in freedom.

Break it down for us…What does “The Dream of You” mean?

The Dream of You is God’s vision for your identity and purpose. It’s about how God made you, your personality, your gifts and celebrates them. It’s about the voice and the contribution he’s given you to share in your world.

When I got my copy and read the back cover, it asked a poignant question.  It said are you ready? In the tiny phrase was packed so much. What keeps women from being ready to embrace their authentic God identity?

I think our life experiences and relationships have a profound impact on our lives. We grow up surrounded by definitions and expectations on what makes us valuable as women, on our potential and purpose. We’re told how we need to look, and how we should think, what we should do with our lives. Even our wider culture has multiple (and often conflicting) opinions about our womanhood. All these leave an imprint on us. It’s hard to embrace what God says about you when the voices for your culture, relationships and experiences are so loud.

How does the view we hold of ourselves impact our relationships?

We human beings never live beyond what we believe about ourselves, so the view we have has a critical role in how we live, including our relationships. So for example if we believe we are inadequate and unworthy of love, it can affect us in a number of ways. We feel that love has to be earned, so work harder, try harder, do more  – and yet still feel insecure. In addition – we might also not recognize when we are being mistreated or taken advantage of, because we accept the treatment think we deserve. So it’s vital we embrace our God defined worth and value!

What would you say are some major issues, or “Giants” as you refer to them in the book that distort our God identity? 

Comparison is one of the giants we’ll need to learn to slay in every season of our lives. We compare our bodies, our families, our talents. Comparison towers over us, intimidating us, making us feel small and that our God given design is somehow insufficient for life.

The experience known in popular culture The Impostor Syndrome  (where regardless of how qualified and experienced you are in work or life you feel like a fake about to be exposed and ridiculed) is a huge giant we need to slay. God did not get it wrong when He made us. He is not embarrassed by our gifts or good qualities – he created them! But these distortions have the power to hold us back and wreak havoc over our identity and purpose.

Can you share with us a time when you did not embrace the dream of you?

I was single throughout my twenties when my friends were getting married and starting families. I’d bought the lie that my value was determined by my marital status,  and it had an erosive effect on my heart. I was defined by disappointment. It took a long time to embrace God’s dream for my life because I wanted someone else’s!

In the book you talk a lot about names and knowing your name. So tell us what’s in a name.

In the Bible a name often spoke of someone’s, character, their personality and potential. It might be a comment on a person’s relationship with God.  All in all, a given name declared a person’s identity and it was definitive. Today, our birth names certainly define us, but I’ve seen that other labels or names we’re given- “The strong one”, the rebel, the good girl, the fat one, the ugly duckling’ can shape us too. It’s essential that we exchange these old names for the name God speaks over every inch of our lives.

You also discuss a want for daddy. Can you share a bit on how knowing whose we are impacts how we see ourselves?

When my kids are facing a tough time at school, one of the things I’ll say is “remember you’re a Saxton”. It’s a shorthand way of summarizing who we are as a family – our values.  Being a Saxton means we look out for the marginalized kid in class, it means we work hard but that trying our best is enough. It means we have fun and are a bit goofy. Its means that we are fearfully and wonderfully made; and so are the people around us. It means we advocate for ourselves and that we serve and follow Jesus. It also means that we are not alone, we belong and are part of something bigger. When we know whose we are, it indicates who we are, are values and what we are living for. And it’s a reminder that we are not alone; we belong.

I’m a women’s ministry leader so can you talk to the women in leadership for a minute. How is our ability to lead effectively impacted if we do not have an accurate vision of ourselves?

I’ve noticed that for women in leadership one of our biggest battles is in the mind. If we don’t have an accurate vision of ourselves, it will drastically limit our leadership. We second guess our dreams and visions, we minimize our ideas. We fear our leadership passion and goals – just in case we’re too proud. What kingdom dreams remain unleashed because we’ve felt too insecure to run with them? NGO’s that haven’t been started. Community initiatives that never began, businesses that didn’t start. Conversations that would heal our families that remained unspoken. What are we missing out on?

Another thing that happens is that we fail to set boundaries and we exhaust ourselves and resent our tiredness. Then we feel ashamed of our resentment. We work hard to make amends, failing to set boundaries and the cycle starts again….

We live, love and lead from the inside out. So we need to be aware of what is happening on the inside – (our heart and minds) because it will shape how we lead.

Once we’ve come into alignment with the dream of who God says we are, how do we keep from sliding back into the mold of our old broken identity?

It can take a lot of work to break the old molds!

Since it’s God’s dream – it’s important to keep investing in your relationship with God.  Pray about these things, find verses from the Bible that speak to who God says you are and digest them daily, spend time in worship, spend time in Christian community.

Next, I would suggest you surround yourself with life giving people – the kind of people who will encourage your True identity, who will celebrate your real voice and purpose with you. You need people who will speak the truth in love to you when you are holding tightly onto lies. Build those kinds of relationships.

For some of the things we are dealing with we might need some professional help. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to visit a doctor if you are struggling in your mental health with anxiety or depression. Arrange to see a qualified therapist or counselor if there are issues to unpack that need specific attention. This is not a sign of failure – it’s one of COURAGE!

And for those of us aware that aligning with God’s dream impacts our calling and purpose, begin to dream with Him, but also begin to take practical steps. Talk to friends about what you can do to live into your purpose more fully, and be accountable for those steps you plan to take.

Any final thoughts for the people…

It’s not too late for a new beginning. God is making all things new, and that includes you. Your history, your story is not beyond the reach of his love and transformative power. Your broken identities are not too much for the Cross. Yes it may take time to live a new way when the old was has defined you for years, but it’s worth it. Let go of your broken identities, and live the life you were made for.

Whoo! Thanks Jo, that was awesome. I’m inspired to walk in my God given identity and to pursue my purpose with passion.

So friends, go ahead and pre-order your copy TODAY by CLICKING HERE. I KNOW this book has the power to transform your life. I’m excited to journey with you as you unpack The Dream of You so let’s keep the conversation going. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

As always it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

Jo Saxton is an author, speaker, leadership coach, church planter and visionary, who empowers women, challenges societal stereotypes and helps people discover who they truly are, by seeing themselves the way God sees them. 

Born to Nigerian parents and raised in London, Jo brings a multi-cultural and international perspective to leadership. She has served on staff in multiple churches in the United Kingdom and the United States. Jo is currently the Chair of the Board for 3DM, a non-profit organization that equips churches in discipleship and mission, on the advisory board for Today’s Christian Woman, and co-hosts the popular podcast Lead Stories: Tales of Leadership in Life with Steph O’Brien.

A sought-after speaker, Jo has spoken at colleges/universities, churches and acclaimed national conferences including: Q, IF: Conference, Catalyst and faith-based gatherings across the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Notably, Jo Saxton has also been featured at the esteemed National Day of Prayer.

Her message challenges listeners to:

  • Engage in missional living and discipleship.
  • Empower women to lean into their leadership and influence.
  • Equip leaders to lead from the inside out and reframe their vision and purpose.

Jo is the author of two well-received books; More than Enchanting: Breaking Through Barriers to Influence Your World, and High Heels and Holiness: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Living Life Well. More than Enchanting discusses the central role of women in the church and society and High Heels and Holiness is a discipleship guide for young adult women. 

On January 23, 2018, Jo will release her much-anticipated new book The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For through publisher WaterBrook & Multnomah (imprints of Penguin Random House). The book aims to help readers confront their past, break through stifling perceptions, and live authentically.Jo and her husband, Chris, live in Minneapolis with their two daughters.

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