The Olasky Interview: Barbara Duguid


JILL NELSON, HOST: Today is Thursday, October 25th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Jill Nelson.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: The Olasky Interview.

NELSON: Barbara Duguid is a Christian counselor and author. She wrote the book “Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in our Weakness.” It caught the attention of WORLD Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky. He invited her to Patrick Henry College to talk to students.

REICHARD: Barbara Duguid started her career as a medical technologist. What could have been a devastating mistake provided the foundation for a new path. In this excerpt from their conversation, Duguid explains what happened.

MARVIN OLASKY: Barbara, you lost a job at a local hospital and I suspect were very sad about that. How was God’s glory displayed in your weakness there?

BARBARA DUGUID: Every day I would walk into the hospital and I would pray that God would help me not to make a mistake because I’d been out of the field for a while and I was very careful in the work that I did, and one day, I made a mistake that almost resulted… I was part of a chain of mistakes that almost resulted in a patient receiving treatment that would not have needed.

So I was embarrassed and I was ashamed and I loved my coworkers and that was just really devastating to me because I had banked on this being what I was going to do with my life for a period of time. So that devastated me but it was in that moment that I actually shot off a proposal to write this book. And this is, the first book, Extravagant Grace, was a book that people had been encouraging me to write for years and I just didn’t want to write. I never wanted to be an author and didn’t want to have anything to do with it, but in that moment of failure, for some reason, God ignited my heart on that particular topic and I got excited about the book, partly because there was nothing else to do, and partly maybe because I was embarrassed.

But God used even that prideful upside down feeling of shame and embarrassment to galvanize me to do something that actually He really wanted me to do.

OLASKY: So people encouraged you because you had taught Bible studies or studies of “The Letters of John Newton.” Tell us about that, where you taught and why do you think communicated to people they were then encouraging you to actually get this down on paper?

DUGUID: John Newton’s teachings on sanctification are so radically different from what we think of in the church today. They are so utterly different than the expectations that we have and so completely comforting and focused on Christ and not on ourselves that when you start to study them, not only do you begin to change, but all of your relationships begin to change dramatically. Joy starts to bubble up as you start to understand that God is sovereign over your sin and your failure. That you are in His will whether you are obeying Him or disobeying Him. That He is at work in you 24/7 and He cannot be stopped by your sin.

Some of these are the most wonderful, encouraging truths to a culture that has bought into the idea that God is paralyzed until I enable Him to do things with my obedience and that His focus, we are obsessed with ourselves and with our performance and how we are doing spiritually. So we live lives of real discouragement and depression if we’re not doing as well as we think we should or we think God thinks we should and we live really depressed lives and we know nothing about joy in Christ because we can’t be at peace with ourselves if we’re continuing to sin.

OLASKY: Well, let me ask. If someone comes to you for counseling and that person has not just lost a job or failed a test but done something remarkably sinful and again, this may be difficult because we’re not going to talk about necessarily a specific incident, but a grievous sin, how do you start the counseling process at that point?

DUGUID: I think my first goal with a counselee is to relieve the conscience, not by saying it wasn’t bad. As Newton would said, we don’t call evil good or good evil. We do not ever come alongside and say it wasn’t that bad. But we start to ask a very pivotal question: What was God up to in allowing you to do that? And my goal is to help the counselee zoom out and not just focus on the microscopic consequences of their sin and what they were up to but to stand back and say we worship a God who is actually sovereign over even the mistakes that we make. Why would a loving heavenly father have allowed you to do that? And if God does all things for His glory and for our good, then somehow the fact that He allows us to sin must in the end somehow bring Him glory and do us good.

Now, that is shocking, I know. It is a revolutionary type of thought but it has the power to turn your world upside down and ask different questions. And then my goal is to really start to focus them towards, okay, do you realize you actually stand before your heavenly father as a perfect law keeper even though you have done something really, really bad? What does it mean to now find joy in Christ, not in yourself, because you are never going to find joy in your own performance. You will always be sinning in one way or another.

But to find joy in Christ means to look at there’s a savior who didn’t do that, though He was tempted in every way as we are, yet stood firm and now turns around and not only pays for your sin but gives you His righteousness and that can take that moment of sorrow and grief, which is important. It’s important to sorrow over our sin and turn it into a moment of worship and thanksgiving. Lord Jesus, thank you that you didn’t do this and thank you that I’m a perfect law keeper and I stand safe and cherished in the arms of my father. Those are the beginning stages. Now, that might take months to even get to that point with a counselee but that’s my first goal.


See the full interview here.


(Photo/Corey Perrine, Genesis Photos)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “The Olasky Interview: Barbara Duguid

  1. Scott B. says:

    Dear friends:

    Warm greetings from the Middle East. I am a daily listener, financial supporter, and enthusiastic “evangelist” spreading the word about TWAEII. Marvin Olasky’s interview yesterday (Oct. 25) with Barbara Duguid piqued my interest for three reasons: 1) I love the Bible, sound doctrine, and its application to daily life; 2) I am especially interested in the dynamics of personal sanctification; and 3) I am a fan of John Newton, reading from his Letters on a daily basis.

    I felt moved to write you and express concern because I do not think Ms. Duguid represented Newton’s teaching on sanctification in a balanced way. Newton does emphasize a grace-filled approach to sanctification, keeping our eyes focused on Christ (cf. 2 Cor 3:18). Indeed, his grace-filled approach is probably what attracts many of us to him and his writings–and keeps us reading them. Yet Newton also regularly teaches and exemplifies self-examination and (to borrow from John Owen) the intentional, ongoing mortification of sin.

    For example, in one of Newton’s letters (which I read just this morning) he expresses regret to a young minister that in their recent conversation he (Newton) focused so much on the issue of issue of baptism (I assume he means its mode). In another letter he says that when he finds himself becoming proud, he remembers what he was like in his earlier days when a prisoner in Africa. The list could go on and on. Examples of Newton’s self-examination and battle against personal sin could go on and on.

    I love Ms. Duguid’s emphasis on God’s sovereignty over all of our lives, including our sin, and on keeping our eyes fixed on Christ. At the same time, I believe that with godly intention she is highlighting one true aspect of Newton’s teaching (and, more importantly, biblical teaching) on sanctification in a way that is imbalanced. We must indeed keep our eyes fixed on Christ and trust that in some way God controls all things. In a complementary way, however, we must also examine ourselves and strive to be killing our sin. Both of those truths dovetail in biblical balance in Newton’s writings.

    For what it’s worth,
    Scott B.

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