Actor, Mom, Minister, Daughter
Identity is the theme of “Overcomer,” Priscilla Shirer’s powerful and thought–provoking new movie. Its nationwide release is set for Aug. 23. She plays Olivia Brooks, a persuasive and gifted high school principal who helps an athletic coach and his cross–country “team of one” find their way through a challenging spiritual landscape. In the process, they discover their true identities in Christ.
Shirer, who also starred in “War Room” and played a prophetic high school teacher in “I Can Only Imagine,” believes “Overcomer” shows how Christians can encourage transformation in a person’s life.
“A person’s identity is rooted in the thing that we value and place our significance in,” Shirer said following a recent screening of the film, produced by Stephen and Alex Kendrick (“Courageous,” “War Room,” “Facing the Giants”). “It’s the inherent value that we all have. We have to decide what is going to define us.”
Shirer’s gestures are reminiscent of her dad, Dr. Tony Evans, the prolific author and pastor of the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. However, as her conversation deepens, her personality emerges. “If what we allow to define us is temporal, we’re going to live in a state of disappointment and insecurity since those things change from one day to the next.
“So, there has to be something else; something more that anchors us. As Christians, our ultimate significance is found in the identity we have in Christ. That doesn’t change, even when everything else does.”
For Shirer, her identity starts with being a daughter of God and then a wife and a mom. She has been married to Jerry Shirer for 20 years. Between studying, writing, and ministering, she spends most of her time cleaning up after (and trying to satisfy the appetites of) their three boys: Jackson, Jerry Jr., and Jude.
How does such an active woman manage raising three rambunctious boys? “Jerry and I both work from home all week long,” she says. “We get to spend a lot of time with the boys throughout the week before we go to a conference on Friday or Saturday once a month. The Lord has also provided me with a mother–in–law who is a professional grandmother. She has been an incredible blessing to our family. She keeps them when we travel. Our trips are normally 1–2 nights, so we are not away from our teenage sons for long. They either travel with us or we get back home to them quickly.”
Nothing is perfect, however. There is always room for improvement. Shirer says she worries, as do all mothers, about whether she is balancing everything well. “There are nights that my dishes don’t get washed, my laundry takes a couple of days to complete, and toys are scattered on my living room floor.” Nonetheless, she believes as long as she is taking care of God’s business by keeping her family as the priority, and then focusing on the women to whom she is to minister, then He will make up the slack.
Put a Bible in her hand and a message in her heart and you’ll see why thousands flock to her conferences and dive into her Bible study series and books each year. A graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Shirer holds a master’s degree in biblical studies and serves believers from every denomination and culture by helping them know the truths of Scripture intellectually and encouraging them to experience these truths practically through the Holy Spirit.
“So, we are made uniquely in our physicality and personality in the image of God and in our faith, we are being conformed in the image of Christ,” Shirer says, “He uses all of that, our gender, our race, and our personalities and weaves them into this beautiful package. I can be proud of who He has made me as a woman and as a woman of color. I know that, as His daughter, I will be a filter through which His image is uniquely reflected to the world.”
Many women ask Shirer about how to pursue ministry. “Give back to God the gift that He has given you,” she says. “Let God continue to be in control. If you believe that God has called you into ministry, ask Him to open your eyes to the opportunities that He is putting in front of you now to minister to others. Drop any preconceived notion that effective ministry requires a platform and a microphone. Obey His instructions and He will make a way.”
Shirer is particularly challenged these days, as her mom, Dr. Lois Evans, is battling a rare gallbladder cancer for the second time. Shirer took to Instagram recently to ask followers to keep her mom in their prayers. “Insta–family, this is my mom. Will you pray for her?” Shirer is also mourning the sudden and tragic loss of Wynter Pitts, her 38–year–old cousin.
“I cannot begin to tell you how difficult this balancing act is physically and emotionally,” says Shirer. “Jerry and I firmly believe that God has given us clear direction that this ministry is what He wants us to do, so we assume that He will provide the means for us to do it, and He has.”
Priscilla’s siblings and her parents have ministered at Salvation Army camps and at National Advisory Organization conferences. Her dad has shared his Bible knowledge through powerful preaching.
“Dad and Mom have always had a true heart for ministry, but my siblings and I never got lost in the passion,” Shirer says. “Even today, we are a close–knit family. I can honestly say that they taught us the true meaning of integrity in ministry. The same people my parents are on radio and television are the same people they are when no one else is around. This kind of lifestyle is what true ministry is all about.”
A child of God
“Our identities are intact, and in all of our ministries (speaking, teaching, and singing), we share this truth with others. I am exactly who God says that I am. Whether or not I feel it is irrelevant, whether or not the culture approves of it is irrelevant, even if I don’t believe it, it does not matter—I am exactly who He says that I am.”
by Warren L. Maye