An Interview with author and podcast host, Gina Duke
Gina Duke is an award-winning author, speaker, strategy coach, and podcast host of the Gina Duke Show. She is the Christian author of Abingdon Press’s book Organizing Your Prayer Closet that introduces the gift of structured prayer journaling. Gina helps Christian women grow in faith, order, and influence as leaders in both ministry and the marketplace. She is a content provider for iDisciple, Jennifer Rothschild’s Womensministry.net, and Proverbs31 Ministries’ latest devotional, Hope When Your Heart is Heavy.
Gina lives just outside Nashville with her husband. She is the mother of two daughters and Gigi to five grandchildren. As much as she loves her family, she is keenly aware that hot fudge cake comes in a close second.
3 Great Takeaways from our Chat…
I. We don’t clean ourselves up…
…and come to the Lord. He begins to break stuff off of us. In other words, just because we find Jesus doesn’t mean everything about how we are doing life suddenly changes. Our perspective changes. Holy Spirit is working inside us, but it takes time living for Him before all those changes are seen.
2. God’s Steadfast Love is there…
… even when we change. He invites us with open doors and open arms. He is living water and refreshment for our soul.
3. God is Gentleman…
He will stay out of our way and He will let us come to the end ourself and we need Him. And He is always patiently waiting for us. He is the answer to unlocking everything in our lives.
Where to find more about Gina Duke~
Helping you make sense of yourself, life, and God’s plan>>
The Gina Duke Show Podcast>>
Gina’s award-winning book, Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray (Abingdon Press)>>
Grab your Copy
Coaching, consulting, or collaboration>>
Hi, Gina. I am so happy you’re here with us today. Hi, Shelby. Thank you for having me. Yes. I just love it. I love that you’re here. And I’m so excited to hear your story. So you are doing just have so much going on for the Lord right now and working in such amazing ways on your podcast, The Gina Duke Show. But I wanted to know, and I know all of our listeners want to know a little bit more about how you came to find that faith and what was the moment that brought you to Jesus. And I guess let’s start at the beginning, where you grew up and how you came to find God. Okay. Well, first of all, I was raised in Church. So my parents were raised at the same small country Church. And if you can tell, I’m from the Southeast portion of the United States. So it was a small Church in Robertson County, and my story is kind of like your parents story. So my mother got pregnant at 17, and so they got married. And so I was raised in this little General Baptist Church way back in the Boondocks. And I just always loved the Lord. And so when I came into Salvation, I was ten years old. It was the last day of vacation Bible school. And I just remember one of my friends going to the altar, and I thought I’m going to go to the altar. So I never really felt like I had this realization like, oh, I’m a sinner and I need Jesus. I always love Jesus. I always did my Sunday school lesson. My mother didn’t have to prod me to do it, because back then, they would send you this little booklet home, and you take it back every Sunday, and it have for the Quarter. All your lessons always did my lessons. And so I always love the Lord. But when I was 13 years old, my parents stopped going to Church. So we had a new pastor come. They weren’t really enjoying his preaching style. And I don’t know why they didn’t try to go to other churches, but they just quit going to Church. And I was 13 at the time. And so for me, I thought, Well, it’s just another day to sleep late when you’re a teenager and you just want to sleep all the time. So I was like, okay with it. But what happened is my parents actually went in a different direction, the opposite direction, and they just started partying. I don’t know, because they missed out on that getting married so early because they were always super protective of me. You didn’t miss Church unless you were sick. And now they’re like, party, like my senior prom night. I got home before they did. So for those years, it was rare that I had any spiritual input. So it was just me and all my wisdom and my girlfriend’s wisdom. And I was doing everything I was big enough to do. And so I was the big party girl. I love partying and went on into College, joined us awardee. I’m partying all the time. I remember the summer after my sophomore year, I went to Western Kentucky University, but I had a lot of friends at the University of Kentucky. So in the summer, I’d go up there and stay, and I’d party all summer. And I remember coming home. And right before, like, I had a week to get back, move back into Western, and I couldn’t do it. I was literally spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically exhausted from my lifestyle. And I thought I’m going to take the semester off. I literally could not mess up the energy to do it. And so I just remember looking at myself going, Whoa, if I don’t make some kind of change, I don’t even think I’m going to turn out as well as my parents have in life because I was changing my major all the time. I was on academic probation a lot, and I just feel like I have no real vision or direction for my life. And so I thought I’m going to take this pause. And I remember looking at myself thinking, okay, I cussed like a sailor. I was a big drinker. I was promiscuous. I’m just doing all the things. And my formidable years when my parents, up till I was 13, was all in Church, he had a sense of feeling like, you’re a good person. You’re good people. And I had this realization. I couldn’t say that about myself. I was thinking, I don’t even think I do anything that’s good. And what could I do? What is something I began to think, what could I do? That would be good. And I thought, Well, my grandmother, she depends on other people to take her to Church. I could take her to Church one Sunday. And so I remember I took her to Church. I walked through these Church doors that I had not graced. And I guess it had been probably seven years because I was six or seven years. And I just remember when I got back into that Church building, I’m like, it was like a veil was lifted. This is totally what I’m supposed to be like, this is me. Hey, I’m back. I love it. I love it. And I just remember. So then I just went from one extreme back to the other. I was rightfully sold out for Jesus. And then I got married. Here’s how the enemy works. So as soon as I’m back in fellowship with the Lord, I met my first husband. He’s now my ex husband. And he was a big partier. So I didn’t just immediately stop partying because we don’t clean ourselves up and come to the Lord. He begins to break things off of us. And so I’m still kind of partying. But I’m all about Jesus. And it’s like the next year we got married. He started slowing down his party. I’m slowing down mine. We’re now going to Church together. But it’s like we met at the altar that day in May, and I kept moving toward the Lord. And he went left. And so it was ten years of just a bunch of terrible stuff. But we have two beautiful daughters. And then I’m still serving the Lord. I’m feeling called to serve the Lord, feeling called to Minister the word of God. And he finally found somebody else he wanted to be with. And I was then divorced. And it’s hard to be divorced in the Church. And I had something immediately following that that I felt like the Lord just jerked the rug out from underneath me. I won’t go into it because it’s just so complex and highly personal. But that was the first time in my life that I felt disappointed in the Lord. And it was so painful. I couldn’t stand it. I felt like the Lord kept saying, Wait, just wait. And I was like, no, you don’t understand if I wait and I feel like you fail me at the very end of this. Wait. I think I will walk away from you forever. I just could not stand the pain of that. And I thought, you know what? I’m used to being disappointed in Gina Duke. Back then, I had a different name. I’m not used to being disappointed in you. So I became that prodigal child. I just reverted back to my College days. I had two daughters, but we had already moved back in with my parents because I wasn’t making enough money. I wasn’t getting consistent child support. So I put my girls to bed at 08:00 at night. My parents are there with them. I’m out partying every night, drinking my sorrows away. If I’m home, I’m up listening to country music videos with a bottle of strawberry wine. I’m like what has happened. But just like the prodigal son when he was eating with the pigs, and he’s like, I can’t do it anymore. I got like that within about four months. This was only about a four month ago. I’m like, I cannot do it anymore. I went back to Jesus, but it was slow. It was slow. But here’s the thing. I thought, where else can I go to the Lord? There is nowhere else. And so over time, he has slowly restored me. It was a slow process to restoring me and helping me understand things I didn’t understand. Over time I feel like that period of time, like I’ve got clarity on it. I understand where it was. Never him. Of course it was me. He said, Wait, I should have waited. But I’m sorry. That’s a long kind of a winding road to my faith. But for the past 20 years, I’ve been steadfast in my faith, and God continues to grow my Ministry. But I’ve been through some more rough patch just won’t be menopause right now, finally figured that out and thought I was losing my ever loving mind. So it’s me and Jesus again. It’s the worst. It’s the worst. You know, what I love, though, is that he never leaves us. And he doesn’t change. And we change. And we go through these things and it’s the ups and the downs and the crazies. And this happens. And that happens. But he’s still there. And it says in the Bible over and over again, his steadfast love. He’s there. He’s consistent. He shows up. We go through things, though, that change this and alter this. But he doesn’t leave us. And so when we have those moments when we can say we can come back to him, it’s easy to just move back to him. And he comes with open doors. And I love that. It’s kind of like a fun analogy with you going with your grandma, like with the open doors of the Church. He was there. He was like, I remember it was in September. So we’re wrapping up in September. And you know how, like, it can still in the south, it’s still really hot. And when you go into a Church, it’s always nice and crisp and cool feeling. And then the walls are white on the inside of this small Church. And I just remember just feeling this sense of cleanliness and refreshment. And it was like, Why have I been out in this world just running and doing and partying and playing in this nonsense that’s gotten me to the point of where I can’t even go back to College and finish up right now because I’m so exhausted by it and just to walk in and go, oh, my gosh. He’s living water. I mean, I felt like the woman at the well, and he was like, hey, do you need some living water? Do you need some refreshment? And I’m like, yes, please, yes. Pour my I need my gut overflow because I needed so much of that. Yes. And he’s there waiting for us to do that exact thing. I think it’s so cool to your story, how as you maybe moved away, and then you did come back that you had enough knowledge of his piece to know that you could come back. And I think that’s something that’s really big for a lot of people. It’s interesting how many people I talked to whose lives kind of did change or get a little upended by leadership or different things with the Church kind of changing. And then their parents may be deciding not to go, and then they end up kind of lost for a bit. I think for a lot of my gals, a lot of them have left religion altogether. And so they’ve had this change of Church and a change of kind of what was their grounding. But you always knew to come back because at ten years old, you felt that peace in some way. You felt that peace. And there’s nothing quite like Jesus peace. And I think that is just an amazing thing. Well, I think I have always. And I don’t know if this is how I’m wired, but I’ve always had this childlike faith in him. I’ve always known he is a good father. I’ve always known that he loves me, that he’s real. I’ve never wavered in that. And even like when I was in high school, I remember we used to go to this place called Flat Bridge, and it’s just a flat bridge in the road. And we would go after the Friday night football games, and we would all sit on the hoods of cars. There’s all kinds of activities going on down at Flatbridge. And I remember sitting on the hood of a car. And the Lord convicted me of how I was behaving. And I remember telling him, look, when I’m 30 something, I’ll come back to you because I will be bored to death by then. Like, I’m negotiating with God. And I had no negotiation power. But he was graceful and merciful to me. And I’m like, but right now I just want to have fun. But when I’m close to the 30, let’s do this again. And when I got to be about 27 and I felt like the Lord was calling me to Ministry, and then I was looking backward at my past going, oh, my Lord, how am I going to tell people that I am now ministering the word of God when I have acted like this? I mean, I was doing all kinds of things. And I remember thinking, God, why didn’t you tell me a long time ago? This is going to be the road. I would have done things differently. I would have went to seminary, and he took my mind back to Flatbridge sitting on that hood going, I tried to tell you that he’s a gentleman. And I said, let’s talk again later when I’m married and I’ve got kids and I’m about 30. And I’m born out of my mind that’s when I’m going to be ready to be serious about you. And you know what he’s like. This is what you ask for. You know what? It is so funny that you say that. So we had a place called the Towers, which that was our Flat Bridge. We went to the Towers, and this is a little known secret. I’m just going to reveal this. I don’t know if I want to or not, but we’re just being honest here. I was actually voted biggest partier of my senior superlatives. Oh, my gosh, yes. So I had my moments like that, too. And I did have a talk with God when I was younger. I’m like, you know what? I’m just going to kind of do my thing for a little while. And when I feel like I’m getting closer to maybe a time when I need to figure this all out. Then we’ll talk again. And I don’t know if that was the best way. Obviously, that was not the best way to go about things in my life. And he did intercede many times before. I got to that point. But I do understand that concept of when you’re young and you are a bit lost and you’re trying to find something. And I think a big thing with how I was and you can speak to them and see if it’s the same for you. But I feel like at that time I was trying to fill this hole in my heart because I was a little lost. I was trying to fill this hole in my heart that can only be filled with Jesus. And I wasn’t ready or I wasn’t at a place to be able to conceptualize it or to understand his Grace yet. And so I just filled it with all sorts of other things. And then eventually, like you said, he’s a gentleman. He doesn’t leave us. His love is there, and he’s ready to talk. When you are, he will let you come to the end of yourself to where you’re like, okay, where else can I go now? But to Jesus, and he was definitely like that with me. I just know that I was just again just doing all kinds of things. And he was patiently waiting for me and so merciful to keep me safe during that time and then to actually even use me as an adult. It’s just amazing after all the things, but at the same time, those are things that I can use to relate to people because we’re not perfect. And going back to what you were saying about filling in the hole in high school and College, I felt like I didn’t have a good grip on anything. Like I battled depression, and I didn’t feel like when I went to College, my friends kind of knew what they wanted to do. I didn’t really know. And it was after I came back to the Lord and made him priority, things just started falling into place, my direction where I ended up with my career. Things started making sense. But as long as God was not the priority in my life, I was flailing. And then I was depressed because I’m flailing. So he was the answer or the key that unlocked the doors to all the things in my future? Absolutely. Was there a moment for you when it all became clear that you needed him, that you couldn’t do it on your own, that you needed him to help you move forward. I think when I took my grandmother back to Church that Sunday and sat through that service and realizing, okay, I’m back home now and then. There was a couple of things that immediately changed. First of all, I cussed like a sailor, and it was really bad. I had no shame in my game, even a mixed company. I’d talk about anything and people that know me now, like, I could never see you doing this. But I was. And he immediately the cussing part went away. He literally changed my vocabulary because I remember being at a softball game. And I had met this girl, and she’s kind of like a new friend. And I remember saying to her, oh, I met your mother at the bank the other day. She is such a lovely woman. And I remember thinking, lovely woman that was not even part of my like, he replaced my communications and how I spoke. He didn’t just take it away. He gave me a whole new vocabulary. And then I no longer had depression. I felt I had purpose. I felt like I was getting a clue. And so that was pivotal for me, knowing that he’s the man with the plan for my life. And that’s why I think when and then I was just so happy to serve him. And when my marriage fell apart, I was actually relieved because it was so bad. It was so emotionally abusive and just all the things going on there. And I was relieved. So when I felt like, right after that, I’m still trekking with the Lord, and I felt like he jerked the rug out from underneath me. That’s why that was so painful, because I just couldn’t deal with this pain. But there were some things he was negotiating. And that’s the thing that a lot of times we don’t understand. We’re just so caught up in our own selves and our own lives that we don’t realize that he’s negotiating a lot of different parts and people that he’s just trying to prepare us and get us ready. And so for me, one little thing didn’t go as I thought it would when I’m completely misunderstanding. Then I’m like, okay, you’ve hurt me so bad. I just can’t go on. But the truth was going back into this world and picking up those old ways. Well, in four months, I was like, oh, I can’t do this anymore. Okay, God, where else can I go? And so over time, he worked everything out so beautifully. I don’t even deserve it. But he’s a good father. He really is. Yeah, I’m doing a lot of work right now. Kind of diving into relationship versus religion. And religion is biblical. And it has a beautiful meaning in James. But the way that our culture has kind of absorbed the word religion is meant to be more legalistic and more. These are the rules and the laws. And I think that a lot of people who have left a more serious religion where they’re at a place where they don’t cuss because it’s against the rules, they don’t drink because it’s against the rules. It’s so interesting. And I love to hear you say that it wasn’t because of a Church that that happened, that these things changed in your life because of the relationship that you developed with the Lord, and he’s the one who forms the relationship. It’s just up to us. He extends the hand, it’s up to us to grab it. But because of that, that’s what transforms us. And that’s where all the good things and all the good works and all the good stuff that we do. It’s not because it’s a rule, but it’s because he transforms us. And so I love to hear you say that that was your experience. It was mine, too. Yeah, he does. And I’ll say the last few years, I have really feel like I’ve been being set free from some of these legalistic things. That a lot of times as Christians, we get caught up in. And for me, obviously. So for my language, I do like to keep it clean just because now I’m not saying at home perfect. But I will say for like, I do see people in Ministry that will use profanity. And I dislike that. And the reason I do dislike it is because if you remember when Peter was trying to convince people that he was not with Jesus, that’s what he did. He started cursing. And that does it throws people off. And in the Book of James, it says that if we can control our tongue, this is key. If we can control our tongue, then we can bring our whole body under subjection. So when I start feeling like, out of sorts, I focus on my mouth. And if I can just hold my tongue, and then I just start feeling much more in control or more spirit control than what I’m just letting my words fly. And whether that’s anger, whether it’s cursing, but even like food. I mean, that’s my big struggle right now. You and I were on a Zoom call earlier today, and I was drinking a McDonald’s Diet Coke and eating two Pop tarts.
I know better. I would eat like a teenager every day. And so it’s like if I want to really have my whole body under subjection and feeling again spirit controlled, not in a legalistic way checking boxes, but I want to feel spirit controlled so I can feel spirit led. But there’s a lot of things that I just don’t get upset about with people. I’m not judgy with people. But maybe in the past I had been where I’m like, you know, what? If it’s non essential, I don’t care. I just don’t care. And I feel very freed by that. And I love that you use the word freed because I do think that when you’re walking in alignment with Jesus and you understand Grace, it is freeing, and it’s almost opposite of what you would think. You would think like, Well, I’m doing this and I’m doing that, and I’m doing this. So I’m not free. But no, when you understand Jesus love and that Grace, when you are able to surrender and put it all down, it’s wild how good things come from that in such a peaceful alignment type of way that you’re walking with him, I think. Absolutely. So I wanted to ask you to moving forward with where you’ve been. How has God worked within your life over the last few years? And what have you seen from walking in alignment with him? Well, like I said, back when I turned 27, and this was in 94, I felt called the Minister of the Word of God. And I didn’t tell anybody because I did not know any woman who was ministering the word of God other than Joyce Meyer. She was my only point of reference. And then a couple of years later, I ran into Beth Moore, who was teaching Bible studies. So I began to see where God was beginning to use women to Minister the Word of God because I can only think about preaching. I mean, that was the only thing my grandmother felt called to preach. Now that was the word that she used. But I didn’t know this. And I remember she lived in a trailer. We lived on my grandparents, my mother’s family’s farm at the Kentucky, Tennessee state Law. It was a large farm, and my dad’s mother lived in a trailer in our backyard. And going to her house was like going to Church. She’d get up on Sundays and help to preach or preach. And so she felt called to Minister to preach. She really felt called to preach. That was it because that was her only point of reference because she’s wanting to share the word of God. But she had nine kids. She didn’t know how to drive. She know how she’s going to do it. And I didn’t realize this. I just know she loved talking about Jesus. And one night I remembered this night because it was dark outside. She comes pounding on our back door, frantic. And my mother said it was like early morning. So I guess as soon as she saw that the lights were on, she’s banging on the door. They opened the door. I remember standing there because we were like, she was pounding like something was wrong. And she told my Daddy, she said, James, the Lord is going to call you to preach. And he said, Now, Mama, the Lord is not calling me to preach. You’re not calling me to preach. They calmed her down, sent her back home. But I realized later, after one of my aunts was given a testimony about how God was using me in Ministry and stuff. And she’s like her mother, which was my grandmother always felt called to preach. And she felt like she couldn’t because of all these reasons. But she always prayed that the Lord would take her mantle and pass that down to one of her children. And so I realized when I’m driving home from Church that day, I was like, oh my gosh. When she came to my house, when I was little. She thought it was my Daddy, but it was me. It’s like, no, this mantle is being passed down. It’s falling to the house of James, my dad. And it’s really me. And I’m like, I mean, I have been called from when I was a child, and that is so funny to me, because when I was telling you, I’m sitting on this car in flatbridge like, one of the reasons I was pushing back on the Lord. I was scared to death. He was going to make me marry a preacher. But, no, he was calling me to Minister the word of God. He was calling me to preach the word. You don’t need a man for what I’m going to do with you. But I just remember thinking, oh, my God, I’m not going to get stuck with a preacher. That would be the most boring thing I could ever think of. And now I think Ministry is the most exciting thing. And so years later, he gave me a book idea and about structured Prayer Journaling, and that was published in 2013. It went on to win the best book award in Christian retailing. It’s called Organizing Your Prayer Closet. It has nothing to do with organizing prayer rooms. It’s got a structured prayer Journal and then again, speaking and whatnot? But then I left Ministry in 2015 because my younger daughter, we had two daughters, and they’re five years apart. And one, we’d already put through College. And that was time to put the other through College. And my husband had this role. They had to go to community College for a couple of years. And if they did well, they could go to a University and we pay for everything. My younger daughter did not do well enough to do that. But I was like, no, she has to go to University. We sent the other one. I might jeopardize her whole future like, no. And so I left Ministry, went back into work. I got chastised over that. The Lord’s, like you were not submissive to your husband on that because he set the rule. You overrode that. And now you’ve abandoned me in the Ministry that I was giving you. And so I crashed and burned last year. And I just feel like I have to come back to this Ministry full time. It is something I love to do. And our children, our colleges paid for. We’re in a position to do that. And so now I’m trying to really be obedient to the Lord and reach women for Jesus. And that’s what I love to do. I love to help Christian women grow in faith in order and an influence in their leadership role, because my background is I was a human resources executive, and so I love taking all that and coaching women and getting them back on track. I wish I had someone like that. I was young, that I could be a go to that I could go to and ask questions and get a plan. And so that’s really what I love to do. Not everyone loves coaching, but I do love it. I love that. So where can people find you if they’re wanting to come find you and come work with you? Okay. Well, my website is Ginaduke. Com and my name is spelled G-I-N-A and the last name is D-U-K-E like Duke University, and there’s no s at the end. It’s not Duke. It’s ginaduke. Com and I’m in the process of upgrading my website. So what you see now is from back years ago, when I was solely pretty much doing women’s Ministry. I was a director of women’s Ministry for a time at my Church and doing the prayer clause that organizes the structured prayer journey. But I’m moving more into coaching and creating courses and helping women grow in their faith or an influence in their leadership roles. Also on Instagram at the Gina Duke, if you want to see my structured prayer journals because I like to junk them up, and I think that probably says something about how my mind works. Like, I want order in my prayer life. It’s structured, but I’m going to junk it up to make it fun because it’s a little bit of my personality. These are probably two of the main places that you can reach me. And then I have a podcast called The Gina Duke Show, and I do a faith episode, and then I’ll do one weekend in order to have an order in your life, ordering your home order in your mind. And then I’ll do an influence episode because I believe we’re all to be influencers and thought leaders as Christian female leaders. And then my second, like I’ll do a major segment episode on one of those three topics. And then at the end of the week on Thursdays, I do a mini planning session because I want to walk with women through the calendar year, helping them stay on track with things that are important because women who are working and are professionals, we get busy and then all of a sudden things pop up in our life and we’re not prepared and we don’t enjoy life. And I want to help women enjoy life. So it’s kind of like a little freebie mini planning session. It’s like a concierge service. Oh, I love it. Well, thank you so much, Gina, for coming and sharing with all of us today, your story and how you’ve come to the Lord and how he’s working with in your life. I really you being here and good luck with everything. I’m happy to see where he’s taking you right now. Thank you, Shelby. All right. I’ll talk to you soon. Ok. Bye.