Candace Nassar 

Welcome, everyone. Today, I am very excited to have with me Christine Hoover. Christine serves as the  Women’s Ministry Associate at the Austin Stone Community Church’s Northwest congregation here in  Austin. She hosts the Ministry Wives podcast and has authored six books, including Messy, Beautiful  Friendship, and How to Thrive as a Pastor’s Wife, as well as a Bible study, Seek First the Kingdom. Her  latest offering, You Are Not Forgotten: Discovering the God Who Sees the Overlooked and Disregarded,  will be released in April of 2024. Christine’s work has been featured on The Gospel Coalition, For the  Church, and Christianity Today. In 2015, Christine wrote From Goodness to Grace, and in it, she shares  the journey she went on to be freed from the confusion and pressure of striving for approval from God  and others. She’s going to share about that today and I know it’s going to resonate with many of you. I  know it did with me. We are so fortunate to have her with us. Welcome, Christine. 

Christine Hoover 

Thanks so much for having me, Candace. I’m glad to be here. 

Candace Nassar 

We’re so excited. I’m so excited. So, first of all, just tell our listeners that we’ve already bonded over a  couple of things that we had in common. As I read your book, I felt in so many ways like I’d been on that  journey with you. And I just know a lot of our moms are going to get so many good nuggets out of this  journey that you’re going to share. But before we get started, let’s talk a little bit about what’s happening in  your life right now. And it’s Fall, sort of. It’s a little bit cooler here in Texas. 

Christine Hoover 

Yeah, right. 

Candace Nassar 

You, just, when did you move here? About a year ago? 

Christine Hoover 

Yes, we moved from Virginia to Austin last August, so about a year. But we’re from Texas originally, so  everyone keeps asking me, well, how are you feeling about the heat? And I’m like, well, we grew up here,  but we were in Virginia for 14 years. My husband and I planted a church there. But we got to come home  to Texas last August and we’re serving at the Austin Stone, like you said. 

Candace Nassar

Yes, that’s great. And so I know Fall feels a little differently up there. But what are you most looking  forward to this Fall here in Texas? 

Christine Hoover 

Well, it’s already started, but football, college football, watching my son play football. I love football  season. It’s just fun.  

Candace Nassar 

Same here. 

Christine Hoover 

Having it on the TV in the house, playing on Sundays or Saturdays and watching it. So, yeah, football. 

Candace Nassar 

Oh, that’s so awesome. You know we’re big football people, too. I was raised in Georgia and grew up  going to the Friday night lights just like you did. So, yeah, I love it. I love having it on TV. There’s  something about the sound of it in the background. So, very good. I can totally relate. So why don’t you  help our listeners get to know you just a little bit better and tell us about your family and maybe what you  like to do when you can get a minute to yourself? 

Christine Hoover 

Yeah, sure. Well, I’m married to Kyle. We’ve been married almost 24 years. We have three sons. So my  oldest is 20. He’s in college. My middle is a senior in high school, and my youngest is a sophomore in  high school. So I’ve really enjoyed the teenage years. I like parenting the teenage years. There’s some  high highs and some low lows, but overall, I really enjoy it. So, we love as a family to be outside when it’s  not 105 degrees outside. And for me personally, I really like to read. I’m a huge word person, so I love to  read words. I like to write words, and I like to play games where it involves words, like Wordle and that  kind of thing. 

Candace Nassar 

Well, very fun. Very fun. Yeah, my family loves to play Scrabble, so I can imagine. And I can tell you love  words because from reading your book, you are just a beautiful writer and paint just great word pictures. 

Christine Hoover 

Thank you.

Candace Nassar 

Not surprised for you to say that. What’s your favorite all-time book? If I had . . .  

Christine Hoover 

Oh, so so so hard . . .  

Candace Nassar 

Loaded question.  

Christine Hoover 

Yeah. I really like a book called Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl. It sounds so weird, and it kind of is. When you  start reading it, you’re like, what is this book about? And then it just all comes together at one point, and I  just think it’s a beautiful book. So, if you’re looking for a little something different. Yeah. Notes from the  Tilt-a-Whirl. And then I also love The Hiding Place. That’s one of my favorites. Just Corrie ten Boom and  her story. And I go back to that book a lot, and read it a lot, but also just remembering little nuggets that  she shares in that book. So that’s been an influential one for me. 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah, I adore that book as well. That’s a very convicting book when we complain about anything, right? 

Christine Hoover 

Yeah.  

Candace Nassar 

Oh, my goodness. Yeah, she was so brave. Well, that’s cool. Thanks for sharing that. Okay, so speaking  of books, let’s get started talking about your wonderful book From Good to Grace. I said goodness, it’s From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel. And so you say in your book, you start off by  telling us that you are a goodness addict, right? Or maybe “were” a goodness addict, or I guess you’re  always kind of an addict, right? Just reformed. So, tell us what you mean by that. 

Christine Hoover 

I mean by that that I became a Christian when I was eight years old. And I knew at that time that I was  saved by faith through grace, that Jesus was the way for me, that I could not save myself. But after I  became a Christian, I somehow, whether I didn’t hear it preached or whether I didn’t understand it, I don’t  know. But I somehow got this idea that all of my spiritual growth, all of the spiritual fruit in my life was then 

up to me. So, I was the primary actor in my Christian faith. And so I had to, I even remember sitting down,  Candace, and reading Galatians 5 about the fruits of the Spirit and missing that it was a fruit of the Spirit  and instead thinking, okay, today I’m going to work on being more loving, or tomorrow I’m going to work  on joy, or going through those each day and thinking, if I just work on this, I can create and cultivate these  things in my life. And one of those fruits is goodness—that I can do these things if I work hard enough at  them. My spiritual growth is up to me. 

Christine Hoover 

My spiritual fruit is up to me. And so it became, I would say, this heavy weight on me that every day I  wake up, how do I be a good Christian today? And eventually, it eventually morphed into, how do I be a  good Christian friend today? How do I be, even later on, how do I be a good wife and a good mom? And it  was all laying at my feet, just that I had to get up and do these things each day. And it’s an addiction in  the sense that it would swing back and forth between this pride of, oh, today was a good day. I did these  things well. My kids are behaving well today. I’ve done the checklist. I’ve read my Bible, I’ve prayed. I’ve  done the things a good Christian does. But then on the days where I didn’t do those things or things didn’t  go as well, I would swing from pride over to the other side, to the self-condemnation. I would say the  mantra of someone who is a goodness addict is, “I have to do more. I have to try harder.” That was every  day—I have to try harder, do more, try harder, do it better next time. 

Christine Hoover 

And so that just kind of was how I lived my life for many years, not understanding that that’s not at all  what God was asking me to do. 

Candace Nassar 

And that’s such a heavy burden.  

Christine Hoover 

Yes. 

Candace Nassar 

You’re exhausted when you’re living like that. 

Christine Hoover 

Yes, exhausted. And I would say hiding. Hiding from people, because an outworking of that  understanding for me was that I had to do the same for other people in terms of I wanted them to see the  good. I wanted them to see good performance or good Christian action. But I was really hiding a large  part of myself because I wasn’t good. I’m not good. I can’t do these things perfectly on my own. And so I 

felt that there was this barrier between me and God, and there was this barrier between me and other  people. And it was really because I was trying to perform for love and approval and belonging. 

Candace Nassar 

Was it hard for you to be vulnerable? 

Christine Hoover 

Oh, absolutely. Because really, I was focused more on impressing people or doing the right things in the  right way. I wasn’t, I wasn’t connecting. You can’t connect with people unless you are vulnerable with  them, unless you let them into, “This is what I’m thinking about. This is what I’m feeling. This is what I’m  struggling with.” And I never told people I was dealing with this self-condemnation or, of course, you don’t  tell people you’re feeling really good about yourself that day, that you’ve got the checklist under control. And so, there was just a large part that was underwater, under the surface for me. 

Candace Nassar 

Yeah, I’m sure a lot of people can relate, especially in this world today, where social media, everything is  put out there, is perfect. And it really resonated with me when you talked about your to-do list and just that  sometimes you would write something on there just to cross it off because I have that same performance.  I think it’s a struggle for a lot of women. And you talk about that in the book, how these struggles that you  went through, the more as you started to deal with it and take it to God, he began to show you and you  saw other people you weren’t alone. 

Christine Hoover 

Right. I think this is a very common thing. Very common. Because what happens is that you’re seeing on  the outside if you were to interact with me, you would see really good things. You would see, this is a  Christian woman who, she’s going to church and, you know, doing all the right things, quote-unquote, that  we would look for as that this is a Christian, there’s fruit in her life. So, there can be an external, the  external practices can look very similar for someone who is doing those things from the right motivation  and then for someone who’s doing them from the wrong place, which was me. My goal, my motivation  was to earn something from God and earn something from other people. But the external things that you  saw would be the same as somebody who was doing it out of love for God and love for people. 

Candace Nassar 

Tell us how that distorts the gospel when you’re trying to earn it. I mean, we know grace alone and faith  alone, and you knew that. And you talk about you saw grace for salvation, but not as part of your  sanctification. Can you share about that?

Christine Hoover 

Yes. So I think a major component I was missing was an understanding of, well, grace was a huge one. I  didn’t understand, first of all, how the depths of my sin. Because I thought that I could be good. I never  really meditated on just how not good I was and how much grace that I needed from the Lord just to be in  right relationship with him. But then there was a second component I didn’t understand, and that was the  Holy Spirit. I didn’t understand that, no, the true actor in the Christian life is God himself, indwelling in me,  helping me to fulfill the commands that he’s placed on my life. I think of it now, I think before my mindset  was I was like an actor on a stage and I was the only one on the stage and there was a spotlight on me  and God was in the audience. And if you could see his face, it would be that he was kind of scowling and  his arms were crossed and he was evaluating my performance. That’s not the gospel. The gospel is  completely different where he has taken on the actor role and said, you can’t do it. 

Christine Hoover 

You can’t save yourself, you can’t remove your sin, you can’t make up for your sin. So, I’ll do it for you. I’ll  send Jesus to die on the cross and raise him from the dead, and it’s for you on your behalf. But not only  that, not only have I removed the sin, that your bank account is now zero, your debt is now zero. I’m going  to add to that bank account, I’m going to give you the Holy Spirit, who will enable you to understand, first  of all, what I have done for you, but to walk with me, to bear fruit, the fruits of the Spirit, all of these things  come through simply abiding in him, knowing him, and he is the actor. And so I get to follow behind. I  follow him in obedience and faith. And when I do that, he produces in me things that I could not produce  on my own. And once I started understanding this, I noticed a huge change in the way that I related to  people, not only with God. That obviously changed how I related to God because he was no longer in the  audience, scowling at me. But I realized, oh, he loved me so much that he did this for me. 

Christine Hoover 

He’s for me. That’s what Romans 8 says. He’s for us, for people. So before this, when I was living in the  old mindset, I remember, I mean, I was already married. My husband was a pastor. And I was really  sinking under self-condemnation because I could not be a good enough pastor’s wife. And there were so  many expectations I felt mainly for myself. But I remember thinking, I cannot love these people. I cannot  love them because I was trying to love them and I was trying to will myself to love them because I knew  that’s what I should do. 

Candace Nassar 

In the flesh. 

Christine Hoover 

Yes. But then when I started understanding God’s love for me, what he took ownership of, his  responsibility and that mine was to obey. Suddenly I realized there’s this love that’s growing in me that I 

could not have made on my own. I love them because Christ first loved me. So, before it was, I’m trying to  love because Christ did this for me. I’m trying to get his love by loving him, whereas he already loved me.  And when I knew that, then I love. It’s a natural outworking. 

Candace Nassar 

I can relate to that so well. I have struggled just from things that happened to me in my past with just  feeling like I didn’t deserve love. And I think for me, my approval addiction was part of that, was just  saying, okay, if I can make all these people happy, make God happy, then he’ll love me, and they’ll love  me. And same kind of thing. When I really understood how fiercely and unconditionally he loved me, that  he would leave the glory of heaven and die on the cross for me for nothing I’ve done and nothing I can  ever do. That was an absolute game-changer. And you can’t love other people until you can—not with,  obviously, the Holy Spirit—but even to truly allow the Holy Spirit to love through us until we understand  God’s love for us. 

Christine Hoover 

Exactly. Exactly. 

Candace Nassar 

That’s so good. Love that, so that’s basically what you’re talking about, you said how the grace, how  understanding the grace of God also helped free you from your addiction. What else can you tell us about  living under grace? That it’s helped you love people. What else has it done for you? I guess it’s helped  you accept yourself. 

Christine Hoover 

I think that it’s given me, and what I’m learning is that this is something that I will spend a lifetime  unearthing the treasures, the riches of Christ. And so it’s like seeping. The gospel keeps seeping into new  areas of my life. But I do see, looking back over decades of having understood this and living from a  different truth, is that I feel freedom to obey what God has asked me to do versus there’s all these  expectations or there’s all this checklist, and the checklist just grows. The checklist never gets shorter  when you’re living by this “goodness gospel”, but I feel freedom from that. It’s more of a day-to-day. I get  up in the morning instead of the checklist. It’s a relationship with the Lord. I can be with him. I can cast my  cares upon him, and I can listen for his leading and do what he asks for me that day. 

Candace Nassar 

Give the day to him. 

Christine Hoover

Yes. Not my agenda, not what I think. Not what’s going to make me feel better at the end of the day that I  did. But just what does he have for me today? And there’s so much more freedom in that than living by  this checklist or living by, even sometimes that can make you different from the other moms, the other  women around you, that what they’re doing with their children or what they’re doing as far as, like, work or  whatever it is, that I can be free to be who God’s made me to be and to do how he’s asked me to obey his  commands specifically with my children or with my marriage or with my gifts and my work. 

Candace Nassar 

That’s so good. In your chapter on receiving his freedom, I underlined almost the whole chapter, but I love  how you were talking about freeing us from comparison and competition, and you even referenced the  mommy wars in there. Which, you wrote this book in 2015, but I still see evidence of that. Just because  with social media especially, we want to do what, okay, what are they doing? What are they doing? And  comparing ourselves and never feeling worthy or good enough, and what a trap that is. 

Christine Hoover 

Yes. All of this was happening for me before social media. I feel for young moms these days who are  trying to make wise decisions with their children, and then they have social media to deal with. And I  would say that having an intimate, abiding relationship with God, where you are in the Word every day  and you are going to him and saying, Lord, what do you have for me? Not going to social media and  influencers. And there could be really good things that they say, but they may say, you need to do a  certain kind of schooling with your child, when maybe God himself wants something different for you, and  there has to be a going to him, a prayerfulness with him, and knowing what he wants for you. So I think  the way I think of it is like, there’s an overarching command that we all have, and that is to train up our  children to know and to love the Lord. So that’s the same for all of us. But the way that we do that is going  to look very different across just the individual children that we have, the context that we live in, our  marriage, our work, whatever it is, it could look very different from the person next to us. 

Christine Hoover 

But there’s freedom that we have in Christ. If we’re obeying that command, we are free to obey it in the  way that he’s called us to obey it. 

Candace Nassar 

So good. I really love that. And then you also talk about being free from fear, and you describe the  pamper pole, which I thought was hilarious. 

Christine Hoover 

Yes. You know what that is?

Candace Nassar 

Yes, I read it. Yes. So tell us a little bit about the pamper pole and your analogy there, because I know a  lot of people, a lot of moms and women struggle with those kinds of fears. 

Christine Hoover 

Okay. I have to be honest, I don’t remember what I said in the book about the pamper pole.  

Candace Nassar 

All right. It was a while ago. Okay. So your pamper pole was when you were in youth group or a  counselor somewhere. You guys had to climb up to the top of this pole with stepping stones, but it was  really high, and you had a harness attached to you that would catch you if you fell. And then you got to  the very top of the pole, and you had to step onto the top of the pole, I guess, and often climb up without  anything. I mean, you had the harness, but you didn’t have a feeling of being anchored to anything. And it  was such a scary thing that you didn’t understand it looking from the ground up. But when you got up  there and you saw how incredibly, how much faith it took to just step off of the climbing things and up onto  the top of the pole. That’s what you’re saying. So much of what we’re doing is we live in so much fear, but  we have the Holy Spirit as our harness. He’s telling us, and he’s guiding us, and he’s strengthening us.  And in fear, really, without faith, it is impossible to please God. Right? 

Christine Hoover 

Yeah. And I love that thought of I remember being so afraid during that time where I realized . . . so what  happened was I was actually married and doing ministry, and I was meeting with this college girl, and I  was discipling her, and I said, I started saying something like, you know, “If you do these things, then  God,” like, you are the actor, and then God responds, right? And she very, very respectfully said,  “Christine, I don’t think that’s right.” And she began to share with me what she had been learning. And it  was as if the Lord just pierced me through her words. I mean, I just knew he was speaking to me and  saying, Christine, you don’t know me in the way that I truly am, and I want to invite you to know me. And I  started reading Galatians. That was the book that just changed my life. Every word was for me. And I  remember thinking it was like, I have all this old wallpaper, like this wrong way of thinking about God, this  wrong way of thinking about myself. And he’s just going to have to tear it down little by little. If you’ve ever  taken down wallpaper, it’s just so hard to get down. 

Candace Nassar 

Awful. 

Christine Hoover

And so it was a process of him showing me how I thought wrongly about him and about his gospel and  about me, and then putting up new wallpaper. And now where I am, the new wallpaper is up. It’s  ingrained in me. I understand the truth now. But in that in-between, where the wallpaper was still coming  down, I had so much fear that I was doing it wrong. I was going to do it wrong, that I was releasing the  checklist or, like, well, these are all the things a good Christian does, whoever taught me those things.  And we could all make a list of what was on that list. To release that felt scary to me. It felt like standing  on that pamper pole and trying to stand up and to jump off. What was going to hold me? And that’s where  the Holy Spirit came in, as you mentioned. The Holy Spirit is God himself, helping me to know what’s true  and to obey. He’s never going to lead me contrary to Scripture, contrary to what God wants for me. Those  are the guardrails. He’s the guardrail. Rather than my own idea of what’s right or wrong or my own idea of  the checklist and what should be on it. 

Christine Hoover 

I had to release myself to him and to trust that he had me, that harness. He had me and he was going to  help me to . . . He was going to grow in me the things, the spiritual fruit, the sanctification. He was going  to do it by releasing control of that to him, rather than me being the one who is in control. 

Candace Nassar 

Yes, absolutely. It’s not comfortable at all. And by the way, the reason it’s called a pamper pole, the  reason they named it that I’m not going to say, but it has something to do with the fear of being up there  and people might need some diapers, anyway. But yes, it’s very scary to change and release. But that’s  what this is about, the goodness. When we feel like we can do things, even though we know we’re saved  by faith, that we have to do things to make God love us or to earn whatever it is, that’s the problem right  there. 

Candace Nassar 

But if we’re trying to do those things, easy to do, then we’re not going to live the abundant life that God  has promised us. Absolutely. And we have to make those changes. And it’s scary, but he will help us. He  will totally help us. Such good stuff. Is there anything else that you would want to share with our moms,  our listeners, that you have learned over the years about just living under grace and in God’s  unconditional love and freedom?  

Christine Hoover 

I mean, I think a question that often comes up when I talk about this is like, well, isn’t goodness and doing  the right things, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? And I just want to highlight and reiterate that  goodness is a fruit of the Spirit. He grows those things in us. It’s not something that we can control or  manufacture. And so, yes, that is the outcome, but the way we get there is different than if we are. And  really we can’t do it on our own. We may think we are, but. So I just want to reiterate just how much God 

loves you, how much he loves us, and how much responsibility he has taken on for us, not just for our  salvation, but for our sanctification. He is enduring us to the end, and he will hold us forever. And so he  didn’t just do so much to save us. He is doing so much to continue us in our faith. 

Candace Nassar 

And that’s just so hard for us to grasp that kind of love and sacrifice. And then I love how you close it.  Like, you open talking about, why am I doing 416 loads of laundry a year? 

Christine Hoover 

Yes. 

Candace Nassar 

And I know our moms struggle with that. There’s so much drudgery sometimes to just being a mom. We  want to do something that’s purposeful and a life that matters and all that sort of thing. But you clarify that  God has a purpose in all of that, and we just have to trust him with it and remind ourselves of that right  when we’re in the midst of those moments. Thank you so much, Christine. And I just appreciate your  vulnerability so much and just sharing and going through this journey, sharing this with your readers so  then they can join you on it. And I just think it’s a fantastic book. And I recommend From Good to Grace to  our listeners. And, yeah, why don’t we close in prayer?  

Christine Hoover 

Sure. Thank you. 

Candace Nassar 

Lord, thank you for this time that we’ve had together. I thank you for Christine’s heart and how she has  gone on this journey to allow you to transform her heart from trying to earn your approval and others  approval, to basking in your love and in your grace and embracing the freedom that she has in that, so  that she can go out and we can all learn to go out and love others and pass on that grace and pass on  the hope that you give us in the gospel that we can’t be good enough. But you are. And we don’t have to  try any harder because you have it covered. And when we trust you and your Holy Spirit, you’ve got us.  And you will get us through it and enable us to live in victory and enjoy. We thank you so much, Father,  for the amazing, amazing grace that you have given us in your son. And we ask that you, I just pray for  our listeners that they would continue to ponder these things in their hearts as they go forth these next  few days, that you would reach out to them and that they would be able to also embrace grace and go  “from good to grace.” 

Candace Nassar

We thank you for Christine, and we thank you for this time. In Jesus name, amen. 

Christine Hoover 

Amen. Thanks for having me, Candace. 

Candace Nassar 

Thanks so much for coming.

What's your mom superpower? Take our short quiz and find out your greatest strength as a mom.

X