Rebecca St. James: The Interview

A world-renowned Christian music artist with chart-topping hits resulting in countless industry awards including a Grammy. Author of eight – soon to be nine – books. Spokesperson for Compassion International aiding in meeting basic needs for tens of thousands of children worldwide. Outspoken advocate for sexual purity and pro-life causes. Actress in the powerful film Sarah’s Choice.

These are all just glimpses of the powerful, God-given influence Rebecca St. James has had on the world. At the age of twelve, she grabbed hold of God’s calling on her life and never looked back. Her accomplishments are undeniable, encouraging, and inspiring.

While preparing to release her latest album I Will Praise You on April 5 of this year, Rebecca’s journey took an exciting new turn into marriage. Rebecca and her husband, Jacob Fink, were united in marriage in San Diego on April 23 in a ceremony that many attendees described as overflowing with God’s presence. The beginning of a new chapter in the life of Rebecca, I had the honor of sitting down to speak with her about this exciting season in her life, the journey of getting there, and the things she learned along the way.

You’ve been a huge inspiration to so many people navigating through the world of dating. What is the most valuable lesson you learned about the process of dating and waiting on God to help you choose the right spouse?

I think the biggest thing that I learned in dating and that God seemed to teach me over and over again was to trust His heart for me in the middle of the process because dating can just be very vulnerable. It can be a challenging, kind of lonely, painful time at points and really confusing, and I felt like God over and over again just said, “Trust My heart and that I’m going to take care of you, and really surrender that part of your life to Me.” So, I think when we feel safe in His love then it helps us feel safer in dating.

Really, emotionally, dating isn’t very much of a safe-feeling place a lot of times, or it didn’t feel that way to me. It just felt tough a lot of the time because the unknown of dating is such a vulnerable thing. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There are no guarantees. So, I think trusting in God’s love for me and that I was enough even, though things were challenging with dating, was a big lesson He was teaching me over and over.

With dating so many times we put our trust and faith in the person we’re with, and that sets us up for failure. Whereas if we put our faith and trust in God, then we know He is the one navigating and orchestrating our love life.

Yes. This is kind of a random connecting story to what we are talking about, but I have been acting some in L.A. I remember I was so nervous for this audition I had. I felt like, “I really want this role! It’s got to happen. I’ve moved out here to L.A.” It was my first audition, and I just felt so much pressure and fear about it. I remember feeling like so much was banking on how this turned out, and it ended up hurting my performance. I was so wound up and nervous that I ended up forgetting the words. It was too much of my own self caught up in it. I was putting too much focus on the outcome of that audition, and I feel like dating can be the same way.

If we get caught up in the outcome of the date and how it’s going, we can almost be sitting separate to the situation and not being present with the person because we’re critiquing how it’s going while it’s happening. You know, I think we can almost see it like an audition and wrap up too much in it. But if we are finding our trust, identity, and security in God like we were just talking about, then we can be fine emotionally, even if this dating situation doesn’t work out. It takes away all of those fears if we’re trusting God in the process.

Absolutely. Then you are more yourself and able to step back to see and think more clearly about the relationship and decide whether or not this is what God has in store for you.

Yes! Exactly! We’re much more ourselves, relaxed, and real. Therefore that person is able to see the real us, which is so important.

It also allows us to see the real them.

Yes! Our vision isn’t blocked by judging ourself all the time.

It can be difficult and frustrating for individuals who want to get married, but for some reason or another, are not married. What would you say to someone who is feeling like they are never going to find that special someone to spend the rest of their life with?

This might not exactly be the biggest thing they want to hear, but it was the thing that I felt like was the lesson that I learned over and over. And that was that I actually had to almost relinquish my dream to God. I hit a certain point in my single years where, and God kind of brought this back to me over and over again, He actually called me to give my dream to Him to a level where I had let go of it. That sounds awful, and it kind of was at the time. It was very, very hard.

I didn’t let go in the sense that, “Yeah, this is probably never going to happen.” I didn’t let go on that level but let go on the level where I came to a place within myself of [saying], “God, even if You don’t bring a husband into my life, I still trust You. I still will love You. I still believe that You know what’s best for me.” And I really came to a place of [saying], “If God knows some reason why I will be more fulfilled, more joyful, and more true to my purpose on this planet by being single, then I’ve got to trust that He knows what’s best.” He knows what’s best for me. It was a real hard place to come to, and in my mid-twenties, God challenged me to let go like that. I think I grieved for a couple of days. Then over and over again, He had me come back to that place of letting go and handing over my dream of trusting His heart.

That’s like the ultimate hard one when you have something that you long for like that, and you’re feeling so discouraged about it. It’s so hard to let go, but I think it’s what He calls us to do so that we can love from that free place. Because I do feel that if God has put such a strong desire in our hearts for marriage, He’s probably put it there for a purpose. He’s probably put it there because we are meant to get married. So, it’s that whole balance of letting go but also knowing that if He’s put that desire there, it’s there for a reason.

You ultimately have to trust God in your journey.

Well, in your own personal journey, you have been very outspoken about the importance of sexual purity before marriage as demonstrated in your influential and powerful hit Wait for Me. What advice would you give individuals who want to take your suggestion and successfully remain pure for their future spouse?

The first encouragement I would give is to pray for strength to remain strong in that commitment because it is challenging and hard to live out in our culture today where everybody’s so flippant about sex, and so many people are having sex outside of marriage. So, pray for strength.

Have personal boundaries. Not in early dating, but when you’re in a committed relationship that’s going somewhere, talk about boundaries and what you’re not going to do in this relationship. There were things I had people encourage me saying, “Don’t let a guy touch you in places where a swimsuit will cover. Don’t lie on a bed together,” and things like that. These are the kind of boundaries that were important for me.

Also, just realize God is watching. How would He feel about what I’m doing right now? If this person isn’t my future spouse, would I be ashamed to tell my future children what I’m doing with this guy right now? You know, just thinking long term as opposed to short term is really important. Is God being honored in this situation?

Speaking of your husband, how did you know that Jacob Fink was the man you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?

I knew the night that I met him that I really liked him. In my song Wait for Me, there’s a part that says, “Waiting for the look in your eyes when we meet for the first time,” and I really did see a look in his eyes. There was an amazing eye connection that we shared in those moments.

As we got further and further into dating, there was such a cherishing love that I felt from him to me, which is so incredibly rare. I really hadn’t experienced it to that level before in any of my dating relationships. This man was very well-suited for me in so many new and beautiful ways that were different from other relationships, but this cherishing love was there more than I had ever experienced before. It takes a truly strong man to cherish a woman. So, I think it was the cherishing element that allowed my heart to really fall in love with him.

I actually prayed too. I asked God to show me that he was the one for me, and I prayed that God would show me specifically through mentors in my life that I really respect affirming our relationship and affirming what they saw. Also, for biblical confirmation actually, and I got both of those, which is so amazing.

A lot of people want that confirmation, but they don’t seek the confirmation. They just go with what their heart feels, and that is somewhat dangerous. There’s got to be another element like how you sought out affirmation from your mentors. God gives us those people and resources, but we get caught up in finding the one or just someone and avoid seeking confirmation in case it’s not what we want to hear.

That’s true. They’re scared of it.

Was there anything in particular that you and your husband did to prepare yourselves for marriage?

Yeah, we went through premarital counseling, which I highly recommend to every couple that’s going to get married. I think it’s really, really important. Our premarital counseling was with one of the pastors that married us and his wife. We were married by my pastor from Tennessee and his pastor [from] San Diego.

One of the things that was really important was they talked about the covenant of marriage. This is a weighty, very important decision you are making in your life. It’s a covenant before God that should not ever be broken. They really stressed the hugeness of this marriage commitment, which I think was wonderful and good because I think a lot of couples probably go into it like, “Oh, this is so good; we’re so in love.” It’s about really knowing that this is for life; this is a covenant. I think it’s really, really important to focus on that as you’re preparing for marriage like we’re building something, and it’s a foundation for our lifelong relationship here.

They also said we’re a picture in marriage of Christ and the church. That’s why it’s so important that our marriage is honoring to God because the world sees this picture of Jesus and the church if marriage is lived out well. It’s such an incredible witness. We’re to be laying down our lives for each other. So, those are just a few of the things that were really, really wonderful that we were studying before marriage.

Now that you are married, in what ways are you realizing that your husband was indeed worth the wait?

Oh man, every day! In the most beautiful ways, I’m reminded of how he was worth the wait. You know, truly this is the most beautiful season of my life. It’s the most beautiful season I’ve ever been in. It is just amazing being able to love someone fully and completely and have them fully and completely love you as you both look for ways to bless each other, to out-love and out-give each other, and cherish each other.

I think the fact that we waited for each other helps us prize the love that we have now so much. Our wedding ceremony was so, so beautiful, and the spirit of God was so powerfully present and thick on the place. Many people that came said it was the most powerful, God-honoring wedding they’d ever been too. I really think it was because of my husband waiting for me, and I waited for him. So, there was this blessing and this beauty in our love that was celebrated that day because we had waited.

I just feel like in marriage I’m kind of basking in that glow. It’s so worth it. In this season it’s wonderful to be able to kind of look back and to now be able to truly say it is worth the wait. It’s a lovely kind of ending to the story, but the beginning of a whole new story.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who’s about to say, “I do!” what would it be?

Well, this is assuming that this person has really, like we talked about before, listened to mentors, really sought God, asked for His confirmation, and knows this is the person that God wants for them and feels absolute peace about that. If you’re at that point, and you’re getting married, I would say to trust the heart of the other person. Because sometimes in relationships, you hurt each other accidently. You don’t mean to. Neither of you mean to, but it happens that things come up in life through circumstances that hurt and just rub.

I heard an analogy a while back that a love relationship is like a huge rock polisher, and you and the person you’re marrying are two precious stones that are thrown into this rock polisher. You’re tumbled around and hit up against each other through the circumstances of life, and God polishes you through that. So there are just things that happen in life and the daily relating to each other that are a bit hurtful. It happens in any relationship, but I think it’s easier when we trust the heart of the person – when we give the benefit of the doubt. In essence, I suppose what I’m saying is show grace. Don’t just think the worse.

This has been a challenge for me because in dating I felt like I was let down so often. I was disappointed so much that I almost anticipate disappointment sometimes with my husband. I feel like, “Oh, he’s going to let me down,” and it’s because I’m hopping back to old relationships. So, trusting my husband’s heart – that he loves me, and that he’s not trying in any way to be hurtful, and knowing these little things are just stuff that happens in life – it really helps kind of smooth out some things as we go. Don’t be too overly sensitive. As I’ve started walking in that more, I realize life is definitely easier when you trust each other like that.

In what ways has marriage changed your life?

In every way. Spiritually, it’s just so amazing to have devotions with him, and do life together with God. We have really dived in hard core since we’ve gotten married on having devotions together each day. We seek to do that when we’re able to be together and around each other because I’m still traveling a bit, and he travels for work some too. But, spiritually it’s changed my life.

Emotionally, I just feel like there’s a settling in that’s happened within myself. It’s just really beautiful. It’s kind of like a big sigh of relief; a big breath has been breathed out for me. It’s like having somebody who has your back every day of your life and who looks out for you on every level, and that is the biggest gift.

So, yeah, my whole life has changed.

Is there anything you have found surprising or unexpected about married life?

Probably how truly great it is actually. I knew it would be amazing, but I also expected it to be really hard because everyone talks about how hard marriage is. So, I think I was going in kind of with my eyes open going, “Yeah, it’s probably going to be difficult because of this, this, and this.” It’s just truly wonderful. It’s been easier than what I thought actually.

When my husband and I got married, we felt like there was a lot of negativity toward marriage. It was surprising to us, really. It’s not that marriage is hard; it’s that marriage is hard work. You have to put in the effort and work at it every day, but it’s worthwhile.

There’s effort required. I now get bothered by people being so negative about marriage. I want to tell the world to celebrate marriages because I think a lot of people fear it. Some fear it because their parents broke up, and I think there’s a lot of woundedness because of divorce. There’s a lot of negativity that goes around, and I think those of us that are married and in Christian marriages need to be vocal about the beauty of Christian marriage and the wonder of it. Because I think it really helps this generation and the coming generations that think constantly about marriage.

Do you have any funny stories you can share with us about being a newlywed?

Okay, this is not exactly a funny story, but it talks about things that are funny and a sense of humor.

I always thought that I was going to marry somebody that made me laugh out loud because he was just going to be this stand-up comedian kind of thing. We kind of have this picture in our heads of what our list is or what kind of person we’re going to marry, and that was one of the things I thought my husband was going to be. Not a real stand-up comedian, but just funny “ha-ha” – like that. And I find my husband so hilarious, but it’s in a completely different way. He will just pull these faces and do these things that make me laugh out loud, but it’s in a different package than what I thought.

I think that that’s a really good thing for singles to remember, and even people that are about to get married or just married…sometimes we have a picture in our head of what we want, but God actually knows even better than us of what we want and need. It’s so beautiful to see when you trust God to provide that person for you how He brings all these lovely surprises. I’m actually glad now that I don’t have a stand-up comedian husband. I think I would find him really annoying like if he was trying to make every person in the room laugh. Whereas, my husband just kind of makes me laugh, and I don’t know, it’s like this real beautiful gift to me. That’s a precious thing. God knows best!

I love that! Well, what’s the best part about being a wife for you?

My main purpose now outside of honoring God is to be led by God to be the best wife I can be to my husband and to bless him. It’s just such a joy. It’s seriously such a joy to have that purpose. I love it!

Your new album, I Will Praise You is now available. Have you found that marriage has inspired your professional endeavors and/or added fulfillment to the calling on your life? Why or why not?

It’s allowed me to think, write, and act – I’m going to be in another movie in a couple of months too – from a freer place. For so much of my life, I’ve possibly linked my worth to my work, but just having the encouragement of this man [who is] my best friend and husband believing in me whether I do this stuff or not because he loves me, for me, allows me to do these things from a freer place.

Do you have any final thoughts you want to share with our readers?

The one thing that comes to mind is sowing into a relationship with God and laying that foundation of strength in a relationship with Him being so key in life. I think it’s wonderful preparation for marriage too because when that love relationship is there and that security is there with God, it frees you to love that other person instead of making that person your world and your sense of security. So, I suppose to the single people that are going to read this, I would just say to know that as you sow into a relationship with God because you love Him, know that you’re also blessing your future marriage.

As I mentioned to Rebecca at the conclusion of our interview, speaking with her was like speaking to an old friend; she is an incredibly gracious, wise, and down-to-earth person. Having already been a long-time fan, our conversation only further confirmed that she is an astonishing, talented, and beautiful person inside and out that will continue to impact lives and further God’s kingdom in the days and years ahead. Thank you Rebecca for taking the time to share with us!

For more information about Rebecca St. James and what she is up to, you can check out her website at, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter. Her latest album I Will Praise You is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and stores everywhere. On September 26th Rebecca will be releasing her new book called What Is He Thinking? addressing what guys want girls to know about dating, love, and marriage. It is available for pre-order now online.


Ashley McIlwain, M.A., is a Marriage and Family Therapist, speaker, and writer. She is the founder and C.E.O. of the non-profit organization, Foundation Restoration, and blog, which are comprehensive resources committed to restoring the very foundation of society - marriage. She is committed to and passionate about helping relationships thrive. Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy from Azusa Pacific University. Ashley previously served as Managing Editor for where she helped launch and develop the website into a hub for premarital preparation. Currently she and her husband, Steve, reside in Southern California.

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