Be Authentic: Sharing Your God-Given, Out-of-the-Box Message with Devin Schubert
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How Devin got his start in ministry at the age of 16
- The unique approach Devin’s ministry took – and why it resonated with the youth who needed it most
- Why younger and older generations need each other to reach their full potential
- How Devin learned to write with his authentic voice, even though it meant rejecting advice from friends
- Devin’s advice on moving forward to become the person God has called you to be
Be sure to read all the way to the end for important links and information!
We all want to be successful. But what if we're not being authentic in our pursuit of success? To be clear, being inauthentic doesn’t necessarily mean compromising your Christian values and beliefs – rather, think about those times when you pretend to be someone that you’re not, because you think it's going to help you get further, open doors, or make people more receptive to your message.
Yes, we all want to be successful, but the danger in chasing success is that sometimes we can lose sight of who we are in the process. So it's important to stay authentic, especially in the work that we do, because that's when our true passions come out and when God can use us the most powerfully.
As Devin Schubert has learned, the best thing you can do to impact more people and transform more lives is to stay authentic to who God called you to be. Of course, sometimes that means it's going to rub people the wrong way. But if you can stand strong and stay true to who you are, your personal life, your business, and your ministry will show the world what God is capable of doing through you.
An “Out-of-the-Box” Call to Ministry
Devin is what you might call an “out-of-the-box” person. When he was 16 years old, there were many things he could have been doing, but instead he chose to answer God’s call and step into ministry.
According to Devin, it all started with something a youth pastor said to him: “Devin, you are a leader. And right now, you get a choice to either lead for good or lead for bad. And what you're doing right now is you're leading everybody away from Christ, because everybody's watching you during youth group.”
Those words hit home. And, upon experiencing a personal encounter with God, Devin understood that it was time for him to fulfill his calling as a leader for Christ. To do that, he started up a middle school youth ministry, because one didn’t exist in his church at the time. But instead of focusing on teaching biblical knowledge, Devin focused on building relationships.
“That's really what started this out of the box,” Devin explains. “People wanted to draw in based on the relationships and not just based on, you know, ‘What is God doing?’ Not just, ‘What is the Bible teaching?’ But instead, it was really living a lifestyle of ministry through relationships with other people.”
Devin has a great point. After all, think about the ministry of Jesus – His model of discipleship was all about relationships! And through this kind of relationship-based approach, Devin’s ministries were able to grow exponentially fast, bringing in as many as 70 teens at once who were hungry and thirsty for God.
Not Traditional, But Desperately Needed
In Devin’s experience, everyone has a hole inside of themselves that they want to fill. And understanding what the teenagers of his day were trying to fill their desires with inspired him to go to those people instead of trying to get them to come to him.
Since Jesus went to people instead of expecting them to come to Him, Devin did the same, taking his ministry to skate parks, concerts, and people’s homes. “The people that were coming to the ministry weren't the church folk,” he says. “We were sitting outside. They were smoking their cigarettes. They were doing their skateboarding things. But you know what? They were reading the Bible. They were coming to know the Lord. They were getting baptized. And lives were being changed.”
It wasn’t the traditional model of what many of us expect church to be, but Devin followed the example of Jesus in creating a family atmosphere, and it drew people in.
However, it also caused some churches to reject his ministry, as well as to reject the people he was ministering to. One church even gave him an ultimatum to work with the teenagers in the church or to leave his position there. Devin chose to leave, and a week later, God provided an opportunity for him to gather not 70, but 200 teenagers in the local YMCA for a night of games, five-minute testimonies, and – most importantly – forming relationships.
“People really wanted to join together,” Devin explains. “They needed family. People wanted this relationship, because some of them didn't have moms and dads and real relationships – people that really cared about them. And so, when we really just love people where they're at, Jesus can do whatever He wants with that.”
Bridging the Generational Gap
Because Devin is so focused on relationships, he’s passionate about building bridges between people, and especially people from different generations. He recalls a time when God placed this passion in his heart and prompted him to speak about it to a gathering of church leaders who were all older than he was.
Although Devin didn’t know what he was going to say when he heard God telling him to grab the microphone, as soon as he started speaking, the words came pouring out in a lamentation for the ways people of older and younger generations have caused each other pain.
“The Lord told me, ‘This is your calling. This is an assignment that I have in your life: to connect the younger generation to the older generation as the bridge,’” Devin recalls. “Because if the older generation doesn't have somebody to pass on their wisdom and revelation, they don't have a legacy. And if they don't have a legacy, then they die with all that revelation and wisdom inside of them. And what good does that do?”
These two groups – older and younger generations – may be in different “camps,” so to speak, but they need each other in order to thrive. The older generations can pass on their wisdom and experience to help younger people grow and avoid making the same mistakes, and the younger generations can take what older generations began and breathe new life and energy into it.
As Devin has seen, it takes a willingness on both sides to open up to each other and learn from each other, despite how they may have been hurt in the past. “Just because somebody else burned me doesn't mean that the next person is,” Devin concludes. “I have to give them that same opportunity as I gave the last person, and the same opportunity I'm going to give the next person.”
Be Authentically You
Devin’s book, Authenticity Today, also came as a result of a direct prompting from God. When Devin obeyed God’s command to “sit down and write,” he didn’t know what he was going to write. But he did it anyway, and as God gave him the words, he wrote the entire book in a matter of 48 hours.
“I just went into this flow,” he recalls, “and it was just like I was in this different realm. I was in this different dimension of just releasing everything that was inside of me that needed to get out, that I knew people needed to hear. And it just drove me to not give up until I didn't have any lead left in my pencil.”
Once he had the book written, however, he wasn’t sure what to do next. He sent it off to a few friends to get feedback, and though they loved it, they also suggested making a lot of edits. Devin spent a long time making those changes, only to realize he was contradicting the very words he’d written.
He’d taken a book titled Authenticity Today and rewritten it into a voice that wasn’t his own – that wasn’t authentic to him. So he threw out the edits and returned to his original manuscript. “I made a few edits here and there of the normal grammar-type stuff,” he says. “But I left it the way that I talked, because the Lord said, ‘If you're going to talk about being authentic, be authentic.’”
However, despite knowing that his message had come from God, Devin admits he felt nervous to put it out there. Then, in the midst of his fear, he received a word of encouragement that inspired him to move forward. “You’re being authentic,” God reminded him. “You’re not trying to be anybody else – be you. The way that I created you was good enough.”
The assurance helped Devin remember that his identity is from God, not from how other people respond to him. And because he continues to share his authentic message, even when some people don’t respond positively, he continues to minister to people who really need to hear that message.
It’s an important lesson for us all: when you try to appease everyone with your message, it ends up being so general that you miss the people you’re specifically called to minister to. But when your message is clear and authentic, it naturally draws in the people who need to hear it.
Becoming a “Gravedigger”
In addition to writing and speaking, Devin also works with people to help them discover and embrace their identities through coaching. And this part of his ministry began with a miraculous healing from the Lord.
At the time, Devin’s physical condition was such that he’d been given three months to live. But after an encounter with Jesus, he spent those three months being completely, miraculously healed. And he also received a new name that he didn’t fully understand: “Gravedigger.”
Once he had been healed, Devin learned what it meant to be a Gravedigger. His God-given task now was to help people dig their hopes and dreams out of the grave and speak life into them so they could fulfill their God-given purposes, too. More specifically, Devin helps leaders get to the next level of who they’re called to be.
“I don't believe that leaders should be looking for followers,” he explains. “I believe that real leaders should be looking for leaders to be built up around them to be able to pass them up. That's how we leave a legacy.”
Currently, Devin works with people ranging in age from 13 all the way up to 70, believing that no matter how old or young you are, if you have a calling from God, not only do you have a responsibility to fulfill it, but you also need people to support and assist you in fully stepping into that calling.
The World Needs Your Authentic Voice
As Devin’s story teaches us, the way to truly fulfill your calling is to be authentically you, even if that means embracing the parts of you that are outside the box of what is considered “normal” or even “acceptable.”
You don't need to change your message or your style. In fact, you need to lean into it! God wants to use your unique voice. Whether that be in writing or in speaking, there is a hurting world that needs you, specifically. You are the only person that can reach them.
So how can you embrace who God has called you to be? Devin shares two important reminders to meditate on.
First, he reminds us that although Jesus always met people where they already were, He never just left those people there. So we should do the same: meet others – and ourselves – where they are, love them there, but then bring them along into who God has called them – and us – to be.
Second, Devin emphasizes the importance of setting boundaries and staying focused. “If you want to have progress in your process, you have to focus,” he says. “The only way you're going to get there is by focusing… And that means that you're going to set a boundary so you can get done what God has called you to do. And so saying ‘no’ is just the next step closer to God's ‘yes.’”
Devin believes that the key to your ministry’s success is a constant connection with the Holy Spirit. When you are tuned to the Holy Spirit you will always be on the right path.
Devin thoroughly enjoyed being a youth pastor and certified John Maxwell coach, speaker, and trainer. He is also a certified coach and speaker through Kingdom Builders Academy. With two decades of experience in both ministry and social work, high fiving kids and watching them grow spiritually gave him life. However, he struggled to utilize his gift in connecting with people to transform lasting change until the Holy Spirit brought his true identity into focus.
Now, he equips and activates believers across the nations. He helps them regain hopes and dreams they have lost. He has worked with hundreds of ministry leaders creating a safe place to communicate their heart without judgment. His burning passion is to see leaders be authentic and effectively bridge the gap between younger and older generations. Helping people Arise and Shine, writing their stories of the transformation Jesus did in their lives!
Devin has three adopted children, is an avid hunter, and enjoys living in the Midwest.