How did you become a Christian?
My parents weren’t churchgoers but I always had a leaning towards God. I would come home from school with my friend and we had this big family Bible and I’d say, ‘Let’s look at the Bible pictures!’ and she’d say, ‘Why?’ I don’t know why, I think my heart was just leaning that way.
I came to Christ when a friend invited me to church when I was 15. I had an encounter with Christ that defined my life forever and I’ve never looked back. My relatives were quite mystified by it at the time. I think they saw it as a phase I’d grow out of. I’m still waiting to grow out of it!
You and your husband, Brian, are senior pastors of Hillsong Church in Sydney. How did you first meet?
I was almost 17, he was 19. We met at a Christian convention. (It’s always good to go to a Christian convention, you never know who might be waiting there!) We’ve been married nearly 40 years.
When your children were born, I guess that changed everything. Was it a shock to suddenly become a mother and do ministry as well?
I loved having babies. I was always the girl who wanted to have children. But we were young and pioneering and I didn’t have any help. It wasn’t even on the radar that you’d have a housekeeper or nanny. Sometimes girls say to me, ‘How do you do it all?’ – juggling a career and family – and you just do. There’s no cute little answer to it. You just have to be organised and disciplined and try to be kind to yourself in the midst of it.
We protected our children from the nasties of church politicking. We’ve seen pastors’ kids watch their parents get hurt, and their hearts are too young to process that properly.
How do you handle the critics?
I’ve watched Brian. He’s a remarkable leader and man of God in that context. Back in the early days, if he received an email or letter with criticism, he’d always read it and pay attention and ask himself, ‘Is there merit in this?’
These days we just have to realise there are God-haters out there. There’s an anti-Christ spirit that will attack and lie. It hurts. We bruise and we bleed; however, you rise up as a shepherd for the sake of the sheep. You answer it to whatever level you can, then you press on with what you’re called to do.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve overcome?
I think a lot of people struggle with esteem and belief in themselves. This is why we have this beautiful God who is constantly reminding us that we are well able. Even people who are high-profile and seem so confident, they battle these things as well.
What’s your new book The Sisterhood about?
I’ve been trying to write it for a lot of years, because it’s telling the story of the sisterhood and what God is doing on the earth amongst his daughters in this chapter and time. I’ve been too busy living it to write it. I write creatively and wrote every word myself. When I turned in the manuscript to the editor in the United States he said it’s perfect and doesn’t need any changes. And I said, ‘Thank you, Jesus!’ because I don’t have time to do a rewrite!
The Sisterhood (Hodder & Stoughton) is out now