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If you want to sell millions of books, tell readers they can be their own hero. Tell them if they don’t have what they want, they need to demand it. Tell them that they can have everything if they work hard enough: the beautiful family, the booming business, the world-changing nonprofit venture.

For Ruth Chou Simons, being her own hero doesn’t seem all that freeing. It looks exhausting.

She has one overarching message in her new book, When Strivings Cease: Replacing the Gospel of Self-Improvement with the Gospel of Life-Transforming Grace (Nelson Books).

“The one thing I want you to know, more than anything else,” she writes, “is that if you are truly in Christ, you can stop trying so hard to be who you already are in Jesus.”

Simons is an artist, entrepreneur, and speaker. She and her husband, Troy, have six boys. Her previous works include GraceLaced. Simons goes on to explain in When Strivings Cease, “We’re working so hard to bloom, to bend, to please that we’ve neglected the soil from which we flourish.” And she concludes with a question: “What if our striving is really worship of ourselves as god?”

Simons will be leading three breakout sessions at The Gospel Coalition’s 2022 Women’s Conference, June 16 to 18, including one on her new book. Given the prevalence of what she calls the self-improvement gospel, I’m grateful for this work that focuses on the grace of God. Self-acceptance, she reminds us from God’s Word, doesn’t come from self-love but from the redemption of Jesus Christ, where God demonstrates his love for us as sinners. That’s why she can write, “[S]elf-righteous striving is more hopeless than you want to believe, but grace is more life-transforming than you realize.”

She joined me on Gospelbound to discuss how she came to realize that God’s grace is enough and to help us do the same.

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