Bobbie Houston: My Story
‘Shout to the Lord’ is probably one of the most famous Christian worship songs across the globe today. Sung in congregations, home groups and in the mission field, this song has literally crossed all borders and cultures with the message of God’s splendour – in fact it’s estimated that ‘Shout to the Lord’ is sung by 35 million Christians each week! The song is associated with the worship ministry from Hillsong Church in Australia. Hillsong has become synonymous with Spirit-filled worship, excellence in ministry and a pastoral couple, Brian and Bobbie Houston, who really care for their people and lead the church with integrity.
Her husband, Brian, speaks all over the world, but not enough is known about Bobbie, the vivacious woman at his side. Brian and Bobbie have three children and have been married for 30 years. They met at a Christian convention when they were in their teens…Bobbie who is 50 years old, recalls how she came to Christ:
“I was born in Auckland, New Zealand. My mother was a delicate, gentle woman of Scottish descent with pale white skin and flaming red hair as a young woman. Towards the end of her life, she became frail and incapacitated, but prior to that my only memories are of a placid and softly spoken woman, from whose mouth I cannot ever remember hearing harsh or unkind words. She taught me dress-making and only once did I ever see her disagree with my father.
My dad was a truly amazing man. He was of Tongan-Island descent and had that gentle disposition that often marks Pacific Islanders. Totally dedicated to his wife and two girls, he spoilt us rotten. I fell asleep in his lap or reclining on his strong, muscular arms every night of my life, and almost every day of our lives he gave my sister and I breakfast in bed. He died when I was fourteen years old, and my world momentarily fell apart. My memories of him are sweet – big strong hands lifting me as a child to reach the ceiling; a daddy who never denied me crawling into bed with them when I was afraid, a man who loved creation and rose at dawn to watch the birds and sunrise; a man who worked hard and diligently, and always put others before himself. (Herein lies a challenge for each and every one of us – to create sweet memories for our children.)
The reason I speak so strongly and affectionately of my father, Arthur Gordon McDonald is because he had a profound and powerful effect upon my life. I was blessed to have a truly ‘perfect’ earthly father which made it very easy for me to comprehend an ‘even more perfect’ Heavenly Father.
There are many women in this crazy, sin–affected world of ours who cannot comprehend their Heavenly Father because they judge God according to what their earthly father was like. They were neglected, abused, and unloved. That was not my experience, but the reality is that even though they may have been denied such an earthly example, it does not mean they cannot experience to the fullest and deepest, the love and care of their Heavenly Father.
The Word of God declares that “He neither slumbers nor sleeps” Ps 121:4. He doesn’t sleep which means His eyes are continually toward you and His ears are continually attentive to your cry. The Word says that “His hand is not so short that it cannot save” Is 59:1. He is a covenant-keeping God. What I am writing is truth. The only thing that prevents a beautiful human being from experiencing this amazing gift of love, is that person’s inability to choose and accept this truth.
My story is not one of abuse or tragedy (except for a father who died far too early), but I still needed this Heavenly Father. When my dad left this life, it began the process of this little lady coming to a knowledge of God. I had lived fourteen great and precious years, but I didn’t know Jesus personally; I wasn’t saved; I wasn’t walking in my created purpose and I was dissatisfied and hungry for Truth.
It was May 7th 1972 in the Auckland Town Hall where I met Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I still remember being dropped home by the friend who had taken me to church that night. I knocked on the front door and my mom opened it. I said, “Mom! I’m saved!” And she said, “Oh, that’s nice dear.” I remember it as if it were yesterday. I sat down in the lounge room. The TV was on and nothing seemingly had happened in the natural, but I felt distinctly different. I felt clean and forgiven – Someone powerful had entered my life.
I had lived a quiet and sheltered life. I was shy and insecure, and had never really been encouraged to excel or go after anything other than what was normal or expected. I tell you all this because I could have stayed that way – insecure and contained – but God had something greater in store for me. God has something greater in store for all of us. When a person experiences the ‘rebirth’ and becomes a Christian, Jesus Christ enters their life and the seeds of greatness are activated. What the born again, new believer then does with those seeds determines the rest of their life, and sets them up to win or lose in life.
GIVE PEOPLE A STORY TO FOLLOW
God wants you to be comfortable with who you are but He also wants you to excel in life. The Words says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and (that your body) may keep well, even as (I know) your soul keeps well and prospers” 3 John 2.
Should you find yourself in a position of leadership with the responsibility of influence over others, then understand that you are commissioned and expected to excel. This is the beauty and price of leadership. Leadership is about giving people something to follow. Don’t add unnecessary pressure or demand to this statement because all you have to be is the gorgeous person that God calls you to be. If you achieve that, then you will find yourself fulfilling your part.
For me, I find myself married to a wonderful man of God; together we find ourselves leaders of thousands. I could add drama to my nervous system by putting unnecessary expectation upon myself, but what I have learnt over the course of my journey is that I only have to be me. However I do have certain responsibilities. I have to discover WHO I am, I must discover WHY I’m on the planet, and then I must be sure to OBEY all that He asks me to do. I have a responsibility to give people a story worth following.
When the lights fade and eternity dawns, and we find ourselves faced with a Day of Accountability, the very thing Christ Jesus is going to inquire about is our calling. I dread to think how many will stand and say, “But Lord I was busy doing this and that…” and Christ may say “Yes, my love, but I didn’t ask you to do this or that… I called you to do….”
REPRODUCE AFTER YOUR KIND
In the church where I am planted, I am very aware that there are women, both young and mature, who are more gifted and talented than me. Many of them are connecting with the awesome and divine call that is upon their lives, and my responsibility (as a leader in their lives) is to help them fulfil that call. And if and when they soar higher and stronger than Bobbie Houston, fantastic!
When I was 15 years old and newly saved, I received a prophetic word from a speaker at a youth camp. (Parents, encourage your kids to go to camp. God turns up and does wonderful things in our babies). The prophetic word said I would have ‘many, many children.’ Now when you are fifteen years old, ‘many, many children’ can be frightening concept (could that mean many, many stretch marks too?!) Well, of course God wasn’t talking literally – I have three beautiful children, and a few stretch marks to prove it, but the Lord was talking about spiritual children.
I often feel like an old mother hen. I look at the hundreds of incredible, stunning, beautiful, gorgeous young people in our congregation and I feel like a spiritual parent. What is the mark of a maternal heart? It is to love and to cherish, to protect and nurture, and to raise and release her offspring to greater exploits than herself. You also have spiritual children in your life!
To give and release, we must first discover and begin to fulfil our purpose. Then inspiring others becomes the natural outcome. The challenge of handing the baton successfully to the next generation is in handing it in such a way that they connect easily, run faster, soar higher and achieve more.
TIME TO RISE UP
We are living in truly exciting and significant time - days which God promised would be more awesome and glorious than at the beginning. Time to rise up! Time to get over the negatives. Time to get on with your purpose. Time to be that effective example to all the people God has entrusted into your care, because believe me, they are watching your behaviour, your attitudes, your responses, your relationships. They are watching your pattern of life! Paul tells us to be “an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” 1 Tim 4:12.
What pattern of living are you showing them? A good life? A happy life? A marriage that is growing stronger day by day? Great kids? Friendships that are sweet? If you are single, are you content in your singleness? Is whatever you put your hand to moving towards blessing and increase? When it comes to life, let’s not settle for anything less than God’s best. There are so many things that can keep us contained, but let’s choose to break free of the limitations and pursue all that God has for us!”
Bobbie is a dynamic speaker, teacher and an author of two books. For more information please visit:
www.leadershipministries.com and www.hillsong.com