The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 20 with Lori Devillez | Taking Every Thought Captive & Seeking God’s Will in Strategic Planning

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 20 with Lori Devillez | Taking Every Thought Captive & Seeking God's Will in Strategic Planning
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In this episode Lori and Jacob talk about the process and idea of taking every thought captive along with what to do with a thought that has been taken captive.  Then Lori and Jacob talk about seeking God’s direction in regards to strategic planning.

Summary

This is Jacob Barr, and in our recent episode of the Pro-Life Team Podcast, I had a meaningful conversation with Lori Devillez, Founder and Executive Director of Trotter House. We discussed the concept of ‘taking every thought captive’, a principle grounded in Christian scripture, which Lori applies in various situations, including personal interactions and strategic planning for her organization.

Lori shared her experiences and strategies for responding to challenging situations with thoughtfulness and grace, especially in the context of the current pandemic and the intense emotions surrounding the pro-life cause. She emphasized the importance of controlling our initial, often negative reactions to situations and instead responding in a way that reflects Christian love and understanding.

We also touched on the necessity of strategic planning in pro-life work. Lori highlighted the critical role of aligning such plans with God’s guidance, ensuring that they are rooted in biblical principles. This involves listening for God’s voice in decision-making, whether it’s about changing the name of her organization to better align with its mission or enhancing the services provided.

Our conversation concluded with a prayer led by Lori, focusing on the challenges faced by pro-life leaders and asking for God’s guidance and strength in their endeavors.

#ProLifeLeadership, #StrategicPlanning, #FaithBasedDecisionMaking, #ChristianGuidance, #ProLifePodcast, #TrotterHouse, #TakingThoughtsCaptive, #GodsGuidance, #ChristianResponse, #SpiritualStrategy.

Transcript

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Jacob Barr :

Welcome to the pro-life Team Podcast i’m here with Lori, and we’re going to talk about taking every thought captive. And then we’re going to talk a little bit about strategic planning and how bringing in God’s voice into your strategic plan will make all the difference. So, Lori, I’m really glad that you’re here. Would you introduce yourself as if you were talking to a group of executive directors of Prancy clinics?

Lori Devillez :

Sure. I am so glad to get to be with you today my name is Lori Devillez i am the Founder and Executive Director of Trotter House we’re located in West Campus at the University of Texas in Austin. And I’m just so glad to get to be with you and just among peers and share. What I’ve learned and I love learning what y’all have learned.

Jacob Barr :

So it’s great to be with you awesome and so today we’re going to take one of your ideas Lori and we’re going to expand on it and just sort of reflect and consider it somewhat in depth hopefully. So the idea was this is what the ideas I think you’ve shared at conferences along with possibly in your book or probably, but I’m pretty sure both where you essentially the idea of taking every thought captive and how you will you talk about that idea of taking every thought captive and sort of how you look at it and what you do when you consider that idea.

Lori Devillez :

Yeah, I’ve it’s a process for sure, but I’ve learned through the years if I can take a step back in whatever situation it is good, bad, or indifferent and just take every thought captive as the scripture tells us, to the obedience of Christ. And hopefully by doing that, it helps me to really analyze the situation of whatever’s going on and be able to give the correct response to that situation moving more in the spirit versus more in the flesh. And especially where we are now in this pandemic and somebody even said the other day, I think we’re in COVID fatigue where we’re just really tired and ready for. Some kind of normalcy, right. And so when we’re out and about or even in our centers and things happen that we might be on edge and might just give a reaction versus a response and love, which is what we want to be able to respond and love and hopefully in that taking every thought captive, also asking the Lord to help us to see with His eyes and help us to hear with His ears. And help us to love with His love so that our response is different than the world’s I don’t want to fall into the world pattern i want to be as the scripture says we’re to be a peculiar people, right not to be as the world, but different. And our clients will see that. Everyone will see that because the people in the world expect us to give a worldly response. And an example I just think about not too long ago I was at a store and just gonna return something and I got in line. There was a long line of people and I got in line and the guy says, hey, you’re in the wrong line, you’re cutting in line. Now, it’d be easy to give a simple argument back, but instead I took the thought captive ’cause my first initial fleshly response wanted to be Hey, whose business is it of yours where I am? But that’s not the response I wanted to give and as I took that thought captive and I looked at him and the people in line, I said I am so sorry i did not mean to cut in line i am not a line cutter and I am most happy to get wherever I need to get. And it relieved everybody in the line, right. So it was a witness, basically to the people that there’s something different and then they’re drawn to you. And that’s what the scripture says as we lift the name of Jesus high and we take those thoughts captive so that we lift the name of Jesus high. It draws people to us, basically to him, so that we can be a witness of his love and staying in love, which is where we want to be, especially these days to because as the darkness gets darker, our light can get brighter, right it shines brighter. And just by little responses like that I think about. In 2013 when we were in Austin at the Capitol, fighting the law to hold abortion facilities to a standard of medical standard, it was in the news all over the country. If you were for life, you were all blue. If you were for abortion, you were orange. And so we went we took our people, we went and we were going up to the second floor of the Rotunda to sing Amazing Grace just to influence the atmosphere there at the Capitol in Austin. And before we were going up, I was with a friend and I opened the door to the restroom i said, hey, I want to stop in the restroom before we go up there. And when I opened the door, there was a long line of people in orange and my friend said I’m not going in there. And I’m like, well, I’ve already opened the door, so I’m going in and just taking the thoughts captive of now I’m in blue surrounded by orange. Isn’t that what Jesus would do he would go into the atmosphere, he would influence. And so, as people were throwing different arguments to me, I was taking the thoughts captive and bringing them in line with the word of God and praying and as I gave responses. People were beginning to see the truth, and one by one, slowly they all came to understand what I was trying to explain, except for one. But the rest of them became friendly. They wanted to know more about what was happening. So it opened the door for witnessing, which is really important if we want to impact our world. And influence those in our sphere of influence. I think we need to take every thought captive so that we understand where they’re coming from and we know what language to speak for them to understand.

Jacob Barr :

Wow so that’s a beautiful story of how you went into a space, you know, probably 10 plus people in that line i’m expecting some time and how, and there’s enough time for you to actually engage with those people while waiting in line.

Lori Devillez :

Yeah. Well, they were arguing, I can’t believe you want to shut down abortion facilities and I’m like, well, they would say clinics i don’t call them clinics, but I can’t believe you shut down abortion clinics well, actually, do you know what the law says because really what we’re wanting to do is bring these facilities up to Medical Standard. What are you talking about these are clinics. Well, these are facilities that have not been. Required to be up to medical standards. So what am I doing i am educating them in their arguments. But by doing that, I am taking those thoughts captive so that I’m hearing and I’m targeting my responses for them to understand and then to give them examples. What are you talking about? You know? Well, really, I mean take the example if you go for a surgery, which is what? Many times these procedures are it’s just if you go for even a medical procedure, you’re going to meet with your doctor, he’s going to explain the procedure his your doctor’s going to have admitting privileges to the hospital. So I’m explaining what typical medical standards are that. In turn, these abortion facilities have not been required to be. They’re not required to have medical standards. So that’s what that law did. And we ended up passing that law and we were able to keep most of it intact there were two parts that went to the Supreme Court that the Supreme Court overruled, but outside of that, the whole law. Without except for those two points has stood. And so it makes a difference in bringing because what happened is with the 49 abortion facilities in Texas, they went down to 12 that could actually operate in the state because of that law. Even though two points, I believe it was admitting privileges and I’m not sure what the other one is, but I could get it for you. The Supreme Court overruled, but everything else stood.

Jacob Barr :

Wow. So as an executive director, what is a common thought that might come into your clinic that you might have to take captive in order to have a healthy, you know, essentially you know what what’s a regular thought that a pregnancy clinic director might have to be faced with?

Lori Devillez :

I think one of them that I know with our volunteers, many times we have to take thoughts captive is. And I was sharing this with a group last week. When a client comes in and she’s considering abortion, whether she tells us or not, most of the time, if they’re really strongly abortion minded, they will tell us. So what happens the thought is we have to change our mind, right? The thought is we’ve got to save that baby and it becomes so strong that many times our volunteers take on the responsibility. If she goes ahead and chooses the abortion, which we don’t want her to do, we’re gonna do everything we can to bond with her, to offer all the resources she needs so that she will choose life and have the baby. But if she goes ahead because we have to remember when she leaves our center. She goes back into her sphere of influence. And so even though we’re offering all this, she still has that pressure of whoever in her world is pressuring her to have the abortion. But the thought that we have to take captive is the responsibility many times we take on ourselves that if we lose that baby, how grieved and depressed and I’ve seen people become which it is grievous and. We don’t want it to happen, but at the same time, I think that’s the other part of that scripture where we have to cast the care. We can’t carry the care of that decision. And so taking the thought captive that we’ve done everything that we could to help her and to save the baby. And at the end of the day, she’s in the hands of God we pray we leave it in his hands. And that’s a big one for taking our thoughts captive on, knowing that God’s going to honor us by honoring him and offering life, whatever that decision ends up being, I don’t know i hope that makes sense.

Jacob Barr :

That does and it seems like often these thoughts that are being taken captive are false beliefs or arrows of false some false essentially a lie being shot at us or somehow that we’re being confronted with. So what do you do with a thought that’s been taken captive Where do you send it what do you do with it how do you know, what’s the next step after trying to take ownership or taking it captive?

Lori Devillez :

That’s a good question, Jacob, because a lot of people have asked that and maybe don’t think about it, but. When you take the thought captive, I sometimes physically will be will throw it like I will just in the air, even if I have to just take whatever that thought is and cast it right you want to cast that out. But I think it’s real important to replace it with the word that applies to whatever that situation is. And so just like that situation of a client coming in. She’s very much considering abortion whoever’s in her world is considering it. We’ve done everything we can and the thought when say she comes back and or she even leaves with me, i still don’t know or I still am going to keep my appointment or whatever it may be. We have to then take that thought of it’s my responsibility to save this baby and cast it. And then replace it with I cast every care upon him for he cares for me. Or replace it with a word with a scripture. It’s real important to replace it so that we’re standing upon the word of God, ’cause He tells us that His word will not return void, that it will accomplish what it’s sent out to do. And as we give our clients the word, and we trust in the Word, he’s gonna use it for good he promises that he will. He will take everything and use it for good, bad or ugly, whatever the situation is, and make it good. So we need to stand in the word, and that’s what I share with our volunteers. Let’s practice memorizing the word every day so that it’s in us, so that when we need it comes out of us. I think speaking the word is very important, not just reading it, not just thinking it, but. Speaking it because it impacts the environment, the atmosphere, when we speak the word, it really makes a difference we’ve just recently been having some staff challenges i don’t know if other people have been just with all the changes that happened, you know, the last year and a half coming back and being together and you know all kinds of things that can happen. But as we’ve talked about it, just being able to speak the word to each other. And we’ve started our focused prayer time again with the staff and with the volunteers. So every Thursday at noon we’re coming together and we’re praying. We have a designated time and we’re seeing a difference. This would be our 3rd, fourth week to do it. And as we some of the things we’ve been challenged with now are no longer challenges because we’ve focused it on prayer and God working it out, and he really has. Actually, one of our staff, Dietrich, said that the other day she said we made it a focus of prayer and now, look, it’s not even an issue amazing.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah it it’s it feels like, you know praying about something before taking action or before even making a plan is so is so critical when it comes to God paving the way or preparing things with things that we don’t see happening in order to for that outcome to, you know for essentially he’s making changes as we as we cry out to him and ask him and I think that’s such an important step that it’s easy to not see the importance of it because it doesn’t happen with, you know, in front of our eyes sometimes yeah.

Lori Devillez :

It’s so true. You know, when you take that thought captive and then you speak the scriptures, it really does change the whole atmosphere it changes the whole situation. It really can.

Jacob Barr :

One of the things my pastor says at my church, he says after taking a thought captive, he tells that thought to go to the feet of Jesus and ask for end of end of wait there until it’s redirected.

Lori Devillez :

That’s good.

Jacob Barr :

I like that but I think that paired as well with like throwing it.

Lori Devillez :

Yeah, I like that too. Yeah, that’s one thing I was sharing with our volunteers when you take that thought captive, ask yourself, is it going to, as the scripture says, where to give good report, where to think on the good, pure things, the good things, the right things, All the things that the scripture says where to think on? Does it line up with that scripture ’cause if it doesn’t, it’s worth tossing out if it does. Then certainly share it, but line it up with the word before you ever let it out of your mouth and it makes a big difference.

Jacob Barr :

That’s really good. So listen. So going beyond this, taking every thought, captive, how could we pray right now in this podcast for maybe we should take some time to pray for the executive directors and pro-life leaders who are listening. Maybe we could just pray for them as they’re being faced with a variety of arrows being shot at them and distractions and attacks and comments and whether it’s belittling or hurtful or damaging and these things that are not loving and caring and you know things are worth keeping. So maybe we could would you mind praying for the for the executive Directors and pro-life Leaders and in that in that space?

Lori Devillez :

Sure, Yeah, yeah let’s pray, Lord, what an amazing time that you’ve placed us in history. When I think about for such a time as this, Oh my, what a time we’re in a Time Lord, that we can seize every opportunity to speak the truth in love, to shine the light in the darkness, to be the light, to be the love. That you’ve called us to be Lord, I pray for every pro-life leader. I pray for every executive director, every board member, every staff, every volunteer, every partner or donor Lord, everyone who has said yes i will step up to the line. I will do my part to make the difference in this world called in the issue of life. I will speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. I will seek the Lord on his strategic plan, his strategies for the days and times that we’re in. I’ll not succumb to the spirit of fear, but for you have told us you have not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and sound mind. And Lord, we choose to walk in that today. We choose that when we take every thought captive, we line it up with the word of God, and when that does not line up with the word of God, we cast it out. As Jacob said, we cast it at the feet of Jesus, and we will replace it with the word of God, with the word that is promised to accomplish what it sent out to do. Lord, may we come together as your body, your body, across this great nation, and may we join together to pray for one another, to lift one another up. To March forward, Lord, to look at your strategies as we plan and see the overturn of Roe and know that one day that we will see that happen in our nation and we will be the place that people will turn to for seeking help in a time of need. So, Lord, I thank you that we have the opportunity this day to shine our lights. And I pray, Lord, that as we do, we bring you all the glory, the honor, and the praise, and we thank you Lord and pray these things in Jesus name.

Jacob Barr :

Amen thank you, Lori.

Lori Devillez :

Amen.

Jacob Barr :

I think Jesus is going to need a really big trash can to hold all of these negative thoughts going to be, going to be.

Lori Devillez :

Yes, I agree. Yes, a really big one there’s a Yeah, we’ve done that before, too, where we just. You know, just whatever it is the enemy’s been accusing you of you write it down and then you throw it. Oh, that’s the thing. Yeah, Trash it in the trash can file 13 that’s good.

Jacob Barr :

So there was there’s a Bible verse Psalms 3311 and it talks and this is one that I think you shared with me through probably either your book or somewhere but somehow I got it from you yeah. And essentially it reads essentially it talks about strategic planning. And so this is the Bible verse that supports strategic planning and it reads, they cancel. Sorry, the counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Would you reflect on how this verse gives you confidence or courage to make plans for you know, for your organization and for your team?

Lori Devillez :

Yes, if now more than ever we must have strategies, we must. I mean we just had an area of US Director Strategy meeting in Austin where we came together and we really talked about looking at where we are in this time in history and what do we need to do to position ourselves. You know, if we see the over and we plan to see the overturn of row in the next two years. Texas is reporting over 55,000 thousand. Abortions reported remember, they’re usually 50 % under reported when they’re reported. So when you think about all these people who will be turning to, we’re praying for the pregnancy Centers for help. What are we doing to be prepared? And that’s where the strategies. Where that scripture talks about that the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. And so having a plan together collectively and then in our individual centers is very important, especially now. I learned about strategic planning probably 20 years ago from a man who I had hoped would come on our board. But he was a strategic planner for Texaco, Shell, and in Houston he took them to billions of dollars. He was the chief financial officer there with his planning, and he gave me simple measurements he said a plan should have measurements. Very important. And I asked him what how do I measure what? And he gave me a simple one when your phone rings, how many times does it ring? When you put somebody on hold, how long are they on hold? Those are measurements of your ministry, the effectiveness so that the client knows we’re there, we’re there for them, we answer and I’ve had a lot of clients say, boy, I’ve called a lot of nonprofits and you’re the first one who answered or if I couldn’t answer, I called them back. You were the first one to call me back. Those are important strategies. But as we’re looking at some of our strategies for the day. Should we offer different services what needs are coming our way what is God sending to us? And so, looking at in our strategic plan, do we need to edit it a little bit do we need to broaden it do we need to fine tune some of it? You know, some I know are looking at a men’s ministry adding that. Some we’re looking at should we offer pregnancy testing by through blood draw, STD testing, some of the medical things that the clients may need a lot of questions that we should be asking and so have also the other scripture i like what the strategic planning is there’s in many advisors because we need many advisors and using the body and the different expertise. To be able to really put together a good strategy for what God is calling our individual centers to do and collectively. So I love strategic planning. You know, some have told me, well, God leads our ministry, we just let God lead us, which he does. But I also, when I did a study on is it important to plan. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time i don’t want to waste my time. And all the scriptures that, and that was one of them that I shared with you that when we started with that talk about planning our strategies and then so that you may succeed or so that you may prosper. God wants us to succeed he wants us to prosper. He wants life to permeate this nation. And he wants us to be part of turning that around to where it is today, to where it will be, I truly believe. In honoring him, he keeps his promises and he tells us if we will turn from our sins and we would turn to him and he would forgive us but then he says he will also heal our land, and I think that’s very important so many pastors and churches right now are praying for revival to come in our land that we would have a hunger for God, that we would have a hunger for His word and a hunger for prayer and a hunger to be with one another. To link arms, to be the body. Now is a desperate time that we need to do that. It’s very important.

Jacob Barr :

That’s really good. So was an example of something like a detail or something relatively smaller that you’ve prayed about and then you’ve heard God’s voice give you direction on what to do when it comes to trying to figure out the details or the steps of a strategic plan or maybe the direction of a strategic plan. How does your prayer life and listening for God’s leading influence that?

Lori Devillez :

Yes, I can think when we were praying about changing our name, we were Austin Pregnancy Resource Center and we were praying about changing our name because Pregnancy Resource Center had so much propaganda against it now, you know, we’re in West Campus at the University of Texas and. Actually, Planned Parenthood had paid people to propaganda against us. You know, just telling students don’t go over there because they’re judgmental, they won’t help you they’ll only talk you into saving your bait, you know, having your baby but you know, they’re not really there for you, that kind of stuff. And it was starting to become very controversial, to the point that the university was no longer sending students for internships. They were sending, we could actually offer students credit by having them at our center, but they decided they weren’t going to send them ’cause they didn’t want to get into any issues or controversies or whatever. And we really prayed about it. And it was so clear when we prayed that if we were to change our name and then praying about, well, what do we call ourselves if we change our name. And of course. This is how it works, You know you think you know, right i thought I knew. I came to our Advisory Council meeting and I said, oh, I’ve got the name, let’s call it resting place. And they all looked at me and started laughing they’re like, we’re not a Funeral Home. We’re not gonna what resting place no, I don’t think so. And then I came up with source what about we’re the source we know the source let’s be source. That was not it but then, when I took time to pray, it was so clear. I’m coming down for, you know, one of the last meetings before our banquet and I wanted to know the name so we could share it at our banquet. And that’s when I called out to god we need to know what you want to call us. And it was so clear when I said that House something, House, I’m like house. I wasn’t sure. And so I go into the meeting and I get there and I said so y’all talking about. What we should call ourselves and they said yes, something House. And it matched. They had no idea that I had gotten that i had not told them i was driving to the meeting and I said something house and then one of the gals that led our Advisory Council, she said, have you ever heard of Lilius Trotter? And that’s TROTTER and I said, no, i haven’t. She said she was a famous missionary in the eighteen hundreds. And you need to look her up well, when I looked her up, what was interesting is this is how it was only God. There was a paper and I think it’s still on the Internet that compares Lilia’s Trotter to Margaret Sanger. Now I would have never when I saw that I’m like, Oh dear, are we really off? But we weren’t we were right on. Because the two women lived at the same in the same era of time in the eighteen hundreds one. Left all of her life, her wealth, her career, her everything, to answer the call of God, to go to a very impoverished area where women were treated very poorly, and to be there for women and children. And I mean to the point that women couldn’t even come into a restaurant to eat they were treated so poorly they had to eat outside on the sidewalk. Yet Lilias came up with creative strategies. In that time to be able to not only bring the women in, she taught them philanthropy and how entrepreneurship so that they could not only come in to eat, they could own the restaurant. And I’m like, OK, I like this woman here. And so I read her autobiography and at the end of her autobiography, it says her she asked the question, Will my legacy live on? And I’m like, really? Only God would have known that we’re talking the eighteen hundreds. Nobody would have known that. But God did. And he honored her question and her life by having us choose her name so I called, we researched and found a great nephew who’s still alive in England. And we called him to see if we could use the name and of course he blessed us and, you know, sent a clip for our banquet. But that’s an example of, well, we try to guess and we try to do and then when I finally stopped, when that should have been the first thing I did and said, God, what do you want to call our center? He had a perfect plan and we all heard it that that’s what’s really cool when you’re when you’re all in unity, you know it’s God.

Jacob Barr :

That’s amazing. So how did that name impact your relationship with the university, like when it came to the relationship with the campus and with the interns and those kind of connections, How did that influence or impact that space?

Lori Devillez :

It has really influenced matter of fact we now have internships again. We had faculty come visit us and approve us for internships and involvement with the students. We haven’t had we well, with the heartbeat law, we’ve had a little bit of graffiti, but until then we haven’t really had a whole lot of real strong challenges like we had before i mean, they were destroying our property. They had put dead birds across the front of our center, knocking down signs, things like that. We put cameras up, of course, and we have security and all that. So it’s made a big difference it’s opened the door and now we’re free flowing with the university again.

Jacob Barr :

Wow So yeah, I just love how you’re how you went to God well, eventually went to God on this one yeah. And eventually, and it was such an awesome piece and then it had roots that were unexpected i mean the names you were thinking of before Trotter House sounded good, but they didn’t have the roots that Trotter brought to it and Trotter House just has such a beautiful ring to it. And I think one of the problems with names is that they don’t sound good the very first time you hear them, but they grow on some names will grow on you to the point where you can’t imagine them not being a good name but the very first time you hear a brand new name, you have to give it a lot of grace because sometimes it’s sort of like, well, I’m not familiar with it yet but once you become familiar with something and it starts to take on an identity, it can have a lot of value to someone who knows what that identity is.

Lori Devillez :

Yes, definitely, definitely.

Jacob Barr :

I well, I still like resting place, but I do see the that might be for the other side of the spectrum of the of the work.

Lori Devillez :

Maybe so. I think so. I love it