Bunni’s Book Club: When It’s Your Turn to Serve by Karen Pence
I love to read. Especially about my two favorite subjects — Jesus and politics. People frequently ask me about my favorite books — so for a fun exercise, I am writing each month about some of the books I am reading — new releases, classics, books by friends, and books that have shaped me through the years. The Bible is always the most important book to read each day. Start with that — and then be fed by His Body through the wealth of books. Join my Book Club here at The Stream each month and discover some great books to empower you in modern America.
This month I am reviewing and strongly encouraging you all to read When It’s Your Turn to Serve: Experiencing God’s Grace in His Calling for Your Life by Karen Pence.
A few weeks ago, I was in Washington, DC and a friend handed me Karen Pence’s inspirational and motivational book. I had heard Karen speak about the book’s release at a political conference a few months ago and was fascinated by the calm manner with which she discussed the trajectory of her life — first as a mom, then as an art teacher at a Christian school, a congressman’s wife, the first lady of Indiana, and then as the second lady of the United States. In a spirit of humility, she related each step of her journey to the faithful work of the bees — giving glory ultimately to God for His faithfulness in her life each step of the way.
Walking With God Through the Highs and the Lows
Needing inspiration, as my life grows increasingly busy with the expansion of Christians Engaged, I dove into this easy-to-read book to learn Karen’s side of their family’s story. I had already read the Vice President’s book, So Help Me God upon its release, and several other biographies on their journey, so I didn’t think I would learn anything new.
What I found in When It’s Your Turn to Serve is a lighthearted and faith-filled narrative on the responsibility that we all have as Christians to respond to the voice of the Lord, be flexible when the path goes in a different direction than we originally thought, and how to depend on God even when the road of leadership is not just accolades but difficulties.
Moving their home over a dozen times through three races for Congress, finally arriving in Washington, then moving to the Indiana Governor’s mansion, then to DC again as her husband, Mike became the 48th Vice President, Karen learned how to walk with God in high-profile roles through all the highs and lows.
“Mike likes to say that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will,” Karen wrote.
Clinging to the Grace of God With Each Step
The exhortation that they both held onto during their journey was to not “cling to worthless idols” (Jonah 2:8); but to instead cling to the grace of God for every next step. This is a great reminder to all of us in leadership that we can’t get comfortable or complacent. If the ultimate purpose of our lives is Christlikeness, then God will continually push us past our comfort levels to a new place of dependence on Him.
I loved reading about the Pences’ attempt to balance their home and family life with his early career in Congress — making decisions that few Members are willing to make to prioritize their family amidst the swirl of the political world. Her stories of their love for road trips from DC to Indiana, having her own art business apart from the pressures of her husband’s career, their pets including the famous BOTUS — Bunny of the United States — Marlon Bundo, and her honor for their staff in every place helped me to reflect on how easy it is to overlook the simple blessings along the way throughout our journeys.
It is easy to walk through life being overwhelmed by the pace, the tasks ahead on our to-do lists, and the many voices vying for our attention — but if we pause through daily prayer, engage with a community of friends who hold our confidences, and rely on the grace of God, we can come to the conclusion that Karen reached: “God is just asking us to be aware of our position to be able to help someone else, whatever that position may be.”
Many times, God leads us into His will for our lives with our desires. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Karen’s desires to honor and serve our military, promote the healing components of art therapy, and spread awareness of mental health challenges and solutions led her to take the position that God had given her into fruitfulness for others. Her journey of letting one encounter with art therapy push her into fundraising ventures in Indiana for full-time therapists to a national initiative from the second lady’s office was inspiring. God leads us one step at a time. We might not know the end from the beginning, but He does.
A Peek Behind the Curtain
Outside of an inspirational book on faith, leadership, and Christian impact — Karen Pence pulls open the curtains in this book to share with her readers what it was like to live as the wife of the Vice President. She shares about living at the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Vice President’s quarters, how hard it was to live with Secret Service watching her and her children’s every move, and how many decisions were made in quick moments, but had a foundation in their values.
The Journey Never Ends
Going back to her analogy of the bees, Karen states at the end of the book, “After the honey is harvested, the bees do not stop, they do not quit. They start again making more honey, raising more worker bees, and continuing with their purpose.”
If we are following Christ, the journey never ends. We keep raising up the next generation of leaders and making a difference every day of our lives.
Though Mike and Karen Pence have now exited the national political landscape, at least as far as the daily news cycle, they will not stop making a difference in the United States of America.
As someone whose story has intersected slightly with theirs, I know my life has been impacted by their devotion for the Lord within government and their faithfulness to our nation.
Grab Karen’s special book via Christianbook.com or Amazon TODAY as an inspirational gift for yourself or someone you love. I know it will be a blessing to you during this Christmas season and down time reflecting on what is truly important.
Bunni Pounds is president and founder of Christians Engaged — a ministry activating the Body of Christ to pray, vote, and engage regularly. Her book — Jesus and Politics: One Woman’s Walk with God in a Mudslinging Profession comes out nationally on Feb. 6 and is available for pre-order. Watch Bunni on her podcast “Conversations With Christians Engaged,” here on The Stream each week and connect with her on Facebook @bunnipoundsTX, on X @bunnipounds, and on Instagram @bunnipounds.