With God as My Agent
About the Guest
Making it in the modeling business is hard. Holding to your values while you climb the corporate ladder makes it even more so. Model Rachel Lee Carter shares how she gave her career over to God, turning down jobs that were immodest, and watched amazed as God brought her continued success.
Model Rachel Lee Carter shares how she gave her career over to God.
With God as My Agent
Bob: As a fashion model, who was also a follower of Christ, Rachel Carter had boundaries established, things she would do and things she wouldn’t do. Some of her friends challenged her on whether those boundaries were tight enough, but Rachel says she was fine with where she had drawn the line.
Rachel: I had always kind of stood behind the verse that says that, “Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart.” I would justify. “You know what? You can judge me all you want, but God sees my heart. Ha, ha, ha. God knows my heart.” I hid behind that; and all of a sudden, I began to see my heart—see the pride in my heart. I felt shame for the first time.
As I prayed about this decision, I knew God was showing me, “I don’t want you to model this anymore. I never wanted you to model this. This is where I want you to draw the line.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, January 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife® Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from Rachel Lee Carter today about choices she has faced as a fashion model and about how she’s made those decisions. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I think you need to ask our guest this week one of your trademark questions—that dinner time question that you roll out on the table. When you’re having dinner with a group of people, you have a favorite question to ask; don’t you?
Dennis: I do!
Bob: I think you ought to toss that her direction and just see how she’d answer.
Dennis: Well, let me introduce her to the audience, first; and I have another question I want to ask her before we get to—I’ve kind of asked her several gritty questions here on the broadcast.
Rachel Carter joins us on FamilyLife Today. Rachel, welcome back.
Rachel: Thank you.
Dennis: She’s written a book called Fashioned by Faith. She has been a model for more than 20 years. She is a mom of two, and she and her husband, Daryl, live in North Carolina.
I met Rachel—here’s where I wanted to go here, Bob—I met Rachel last year on the Love Like You Mean It Cruise®. As we’re somewhere in the Caribbean, she comes up at the end of one of the sessions that we have—have a number of speakers who speak at these cruises. She was among the 2,300 people. You and your husband, Daryl; right?
Dennis: She said, “I’d really like to be on your broadcast.” (Laughter) She gave me her book; and I said, “Really?” Then, she got to know some friends of ours here at FamilyLife, and we got to know her. Here she is on the broadcast.
I want to know, “What did you think of the cruise? Did you guys enjoy it?”
Rachel: You know, normally, when we make major decisions financially, Daryl and I discuss them. We didn’t discuss anything on that; we just went and signed up for next year. It was just like we’re—it was amazing!
Dennis: So, you’ve already signed up for the—
Rachel: Yes! We’ll see you in February.
Bob: You shared with us the book that you’d written, Fashioned by Faith, talked a little bit about your testimony; and we thought, “You know what? Your story is something that our listeners would appreciate hearing.” That’s been borne out this week.
Dennis: Yes, that leads me to my gritty—my next gritty question for you, Rachel. Alright, are you ready for this?
Rachel: I’m ready.
Dennis: What is, in all of your life, the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
Rachel: When I was in Bible college, I began to pray about what God would have me to do after this stint here—learning His Word. As I began to pray about it, I felt Him leading me back into the industry. What He laid on my heart was, “Rachel, those people need Jesus, too. You’ve got to go back.”
So, He had prepared me to be able to go back into the industry with a whole different mission, a whole different mindset—that the industry would be my ministry. So, I did. I obeyed, and I went back into the industry to be able to share Christ and be able to stand for convictions that He had given me.
Bob: This had been an industry that had eroded your faith before—
Bob: You’d spent a year and a half in New York as a model, and your faith had kind of washed away. God had done a—
Bob: —a resurrecting-work in your life. You’d now spent—what?—a couple of years at Bible college?
Bob: So, now, God’s saying, “Back to New York”?
Rachel: Well, actually, London. I moved to London. When I went, I had all of these set of guidelines—things that I would and would not model. I was going to stick to it, and it was just no way around it; but—
Dennis: Let’s talk about that for a moment.
Dennis: What were your boundaries?
Rachel: Okay. No alcohol, no cigarettes, nothing nude, nothing partial nude, nothing see-through, nothing perverse, nothing subliminal, nothing homosexual. Notice in that list, I did not mention that I wouldn’t do lingerie.
Dennis: Right. That caused you a problem, especially as you began to establish your new ministry, Modeling Christ.
Rachel: That’s right. So, I’m very excited about starting this ministry, Modeling Christ—being able to share in churches as a speaker, telling the world about what God had done in the industry in me and through me, and being able to just go and do my thing.
I went to my pastor for an endorsement. I said, “Pastor Snow, I would like for you to be able to say something really nice about me and about Modeling Christ.” He looked at me; and he said, “What about this thing that you do—this lingerie—that you model?” That’s embarrassing! You know, for your pastor to say that to you.
Bob: Because, at that point, you were doing lingerie modeling?
Rachel: I had done some lingerie. What it was—was something that you would see in a typical Sunday paper. I reasoned that, “You know, even Christian women wear lingerie. What’s wrong with a Christian modeling the lingerie?”
So, he questioned me about this. We began this dialogue about why this was probably not the best thing for me to do. As I talked to him and as I came back with an answer, he said, “Rachel.” He said, “Listen, I know what you are doing is not provocative in your mind; but I just want to let you know that a lot of the men that I counsel come into my office, and they are struggling with pornography.” As he said that—when he said that word, I became very angry.
I said, “Wait! I am not modeling pornography.” He said, “I understand. I understand where you are coming from, but please understand that men and women are created so differently. A lot of the time, men come into my office. They are struggling; but they got their start, their introduction, by looking at an ad in a typical Sunday paper.” That floored me!
I said—what I’m hearing is that, now, I have the potential to aid in someone’s sin and someone’s falling in pornography. Well, I told him, I said, “Well, I’m just going to pray about this.” He said, “That’s good.” I went away, and I began to pray.
I had always kind of stood behind the verse that says that, “Man looks on the outward appearance; God looks on the heart.” I would justify, “You know what? You can judge me all you want, but God sees my heart. Ha, ha, ha. God knows my heart.” I hid behind that.
All of a sudden, I began to see my heart—see the pride, the entitlement, and the justification in my heart. I felt shame for the first time as I prayed about this decision. I knew God was showing me, “I don’t want you to model this anymore. I never wanted you to model this. This is where I want you to draw the line.”
I had to go to my agent, at that time, and say, “Okay, you know I don’t do dot, dot, dot, dot, dot; but also, I want you to add to my list of don’ts—I also don’t model lingerie.” She said, “Rachel, this is really going to affect your income. This is triple rate”—is what lingerie pay is—“triple your rate.”
I said, “I know that, but I just have to draw this line. I cannot do it anymore. This is just where it is.” They said, “Okay, that’s fine.” Right after that, I was on a job. I was just going to be modeling tops, and blouses, and trousers, and just—the demographic is like 45- to 65-year-old women. So, they book a 30-year-old model. Isn’t that funny?
I’m modeling these things—except the woman comes out and she says, “Hey, you know what? We have a make-up shot that we need to do that we missed from yesterday. The model had to leave, but we have this shot. We need you to make-up.” So, I say to her, “Well, I don’t model lingerie.” Well, instead of respecting my position, like my agency did, she was angry.
My agent called me on my cell. She said, “Rachel, listen. I know we’ve had this conversation; but I mean, she says it’s not provocative or anything. Would you please? Could you please just model the bra?” I said, “Pam, if my morals were for sale, I’d be a prostitute.” That was the end of it. She said, “Okay, I’ll tell her.” That was the end. I got dropped. I didn’t get paid. The client never had me back.
I was fearful, then, that my agent was going to drop me; but I knew I had to draw that line in the sand. All the while I’m making this decision and as God gave me the words to say that to her, I’m thinking, “I’m going to get dropped. I’m not going to be able to provide for my family. I’m not going to be able to have this career. My reputation is going to be ruined in this business for costing agents money, costing clients money.”
All in that moment, I had to make that decision; and it wasn’t my courage that I was able to say that. That was God—just said, “Honey, you are weak, but I am strong. Watch out!” He gave me the words to say. From that point on, that was my standard.
Dennis: I’m thinking of three things that I want to say about your story there. First of all, Psalm 119, verse 9 through 11 says, “How can a young man [or a young lady] keep his [or her way] pure? By keeping it according to Thy word. With all my heart, I have sought Thee; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Thy word, I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against Thee.”
You just spent some time at a Bible college. You had the Word of God in your heart, and that gave you the conviction to be able to stand firm.
Second thing I want to say is, “Good for that pastor”—
Dennis: —that he was a man of courage, himself. He had enough grit in his own soul to look you in the eye and push back and ask you some tough questions. Where would you be today if he hadn’t? It’d be interesting to know.
Dennis: His courage really changed the course of your life.
Then, third, I’m just thinking of you today, Rachel, and some will hear your story and they’ll go, “How could she have done that? How could she have been doing that?” Well, you know what? We are all very much in process. We are all saved by grace, and we’re all a mess of sin—dysfunctional before God. He is in the process of cleaning up our mess and moving us to conviction after conviction in our lifetimes. Good for you that you heard, you were teachable, and you stepped up in that moment to do what God wanted you to do.
Bob: Did it have the kind of effect on your career that you were concerned it might have? Did your agent go, “Look, we’ll call you if we need you; but you’re too much of a problem?”
Rachel: I wouldn’t have blamed them if they would have said that to me, but they saw that God obviously was blessing my career. Every time I made money; they made money. So, they held on to me; and I am so grateful for them for that.
It wasn’t long after that, that I had an opportunity to go to Greece. When I got there, now having those new-found convictions—of all the things that I didn’t do and now add that to the list—that I’m not going to do this either—my agent, at that time, looked at me and she said, “Rachel, you won’t work. You won’t work.” So, I had to make a decision. Part of that was, “Okay, Rachel, think about this.” I have the Devil whispering, “Nobody is going to see what you do in Greece.”
I mean, we’re talking, “Nobody over in America is going to see anything you do. It’s not going to be that big of a deal. This is Europe. This is the way it is here; the culture is here.” You can pick a fashion magazine in Europe and most of the time, they aren’t even wearing fashion. They can go nude and model this watch. It’s just the way it is in Europe. I could have justified these things; but I said, “I can’t. This is where my line is drawn.”
What is amazing about that—by the time I left Greece, I had worked more than any other model and I had made more money than the other models. I had more tear sheets to put in my portfolio, more ads that I’d done for magazines to put in my portfolio than anybody else either. That was not because of my appearance, that wasn’t because of anything that I did, it wasn’t because of my book, or it wasn’t because of a certain agency—that was God. That’s when I developed the slogan, “God is my booker.”
I will say that it reminded me of how Daniel in Chapter 1, verse 8—says that Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile his body. I made a decision there in another country; so, did Daniel.
He made a decision in another country, where maybe some of the Israelites where he came from might not have ever known some of the decisions that he would make—maybe they would never have known that he ate that meat that could have been sacrificed to idols, or it may have been not slain according to the Mosaic law, or he could have drank that wine—but he made a decision because he knew that God was looking.
Eventually, Chapter 2 rolls around; and Nebuchadnezzar raises this guy, this teen boy, to second in the kingdom. He has this entire province. God blessed him because he drew his line, he stood by his convictions; and he did exactly what God called him to do. When God reminded me of that, I thought, “You know, this just goes to show how the Word of God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Bob: Interesting thing is—here you’re in an industry where its standards and your standards are almost at opposite ends of the spectrum—
Bob: We hear from moms and dads at prom time. “There is no way we can buy a prom dress anywhere in the store for our daughter because there is nothing! We’ve looked at 50. We’ve looked at 100 prom dresses. There are none that are modest.” So, with that in mind—and it’s prom season—what does a mom or a dad do? Say, “Here is a burlap sack and have fun”? What do you do?
Rachel: No, I think you have to just get really creative. It might mean that you have to visit a seamstress and add some straps to that strapless gown, or you might need to sew up the back or sew up the slit because it is coming way up above her leg. You know, get that thing down to just above the knee. You can do it with a needle and thread. If you can’t, you can take it to a local seamstress or your drycleaners; and they can do it for you.
Bob: The person who says, “Okay, those are your standards; they are not my standards. We all have to work it out for ourselves.” What do you say?
Rachel: You’re right. I think we do all have to come to that, but you need to come to a place where you ask God, “What is acceptable in Your sight?” The way I did it was when I developed the book—I wanted to come up with some guidelines—not rules because I don’t want this to seem legalistic, not something that is like, “This is a hard and fast rule that has to be followed.”
I think you really need to search your heart; and it starts with the heart, not the hemline—about why modesty is important, how it affects other people, how it affects your reputation, how it affects your testimony, how it affects your church, the people around you, and the guys that you’re around.
As I began to introduce that concept to other guys and ask them, “What are some triggers for you? What are the things that make your mind wander? When you see something that is immodest, how are some ways that you would talk to these girls and say, ‘This is what it does to me. This is what it does to your reputation.’ What would you say to these girls?”
As these guys began to write out in their own voice—and it’s in the book—nine different boys from all over the country that began to write about what modesty means to them—that voice carries so much weight because it shows that modesty or immodesty not only affects you and what you see in the mirror; it is a global thing. It affects everybody that sees you.
Dennis: Okay, Rachel, I’m going to ask you to take off your “career hat” of being a model and put on your “mom hat”.
Rachel: Love that hat.
Dennis: Your son—yes, it’s a good one. Someday, your sons are going to go to prom, like Bob’s talking about. Let’s say one or both of them arrive at your house with young ladies who are dressed in strapless evening gowns—immodest, inappropriate prom dress. What are you going to do as a mom?
Rachel: Oh, I would cringe. I think that before that even were to happen, I would have to talk with her parents and give them my book. (Laughter) “Could you have your daughter read this first?”
Dennis: So, you would say something then?
Rachel: Yes. I think I would need to because if she’s there, and she’s there with my son—she obviously wants to impress my son. “If you’re going to try to impress my son, this is going to be the way to his heart. It’s not going to be by showing a bunch of cleavage and your thigh--in your evening gown.”
I think that’s what girls need to realize because, you know, I’m not a guy; I’m not wired like a guy. It’s difficult to tell a girl, “This is the way it is,” when they don’t understand it. We don’t get it, unless a guy can explain it to us. So, what a girl can see—this is what a really good guy that loves the Lord—this is what he is saying; he is saying, “Cover it up.”
Seth, in Chapter 1, says, “The world says, ‘If you have it, flaunt it,’” and we’re saying, “If you have it, protect it.” What a great piece of advice that a girl needs to hear and how the kind of girl that these guys would look for would not be a kind of girl that would be dressed provocatively.
Bob: What do you do, though, when you live in Arkansas or North Carolina and it is
95 degrees every day, all summer long. For that matter, if you’re going to—you had to think—maybe you didn’t have to think about this, maybe it’s just no different one day from another—but here you are coming to talk to Dennis Rainey on the radio about modesty. Did you think, “Gee, what should I wear?”
Rachel: I didn’t—I mean, I could have picked anything in my closet, and it would have been appropriate. It would have been fine.
Bob: Because it doesn’t matter where you’re going to be or what you’re going to do, you’re going to look the same?
Rachel: That’s right. That’s right. For instance, with shorts—if I’m going to buy shorts, I’m going to buy fingertip-length shorts. That means, when I stand up straight and I put my hands down to my side, where my longest finger comes, is where the shortest my shorts can be. I know that because when I sit down, my shorts are going to rise. Those are long enough to be able to still protect me and protect my modesty. So, any pair of shorts that I would be able to wear, I know that they have to be fingertip length.
If it’s a skirt, I have certain standards for that, as well. Same thing with tops, blouses, pants, jeans—you name it. What I did—I wasn’t just kind of coming up with things out of my head. I prayed about these things. Then, I interviewed guys. Then, I talked to my husband about it. The more I started developing these guidelines—people would ask questions, and I would pray about.
I developed an entire list of things that I feel like are important because we move in different situations. We move in different positions all the time. I don’t just stand straight. I might sit down, I might raise my hands, I might cross my arms, I might cross my legs, sit Indian-style—whatever it is, and your clothing should be there to cover you in any way that you move. That’s why, when you put on an outfit, you need to move in all those different ways to see if you’re still covered.
I did kind of the leg work for these girls. They can see, “If you do this, you’re going to be covered in all these ways.”
Dennis: I used to say to my daughters, “Are you going to turn heads, or are you going to turn hearts?”
Rachel: That’s good.
Dennis: A young man is so wired; it’s really easy to turn his head. The thing is—if you catch a young man with your body, then, you just need to realize that’s who you caught.
Rachel: That’s right.
Dennis: That’s the young man who’s coming after you. I’m not talking about you need to hide to such a degree you can’t tell whether it’s a male or a female.
Dennis: I’m not talking about that. There is a way to dress that is modest and is appropriate.
I’ve got one last question I want to ask you. I’ve asked you some really gritty ones. Here’s another one, “Are you afraid of aging?
Rachel: Sure. Yes. It’s something that I have to keep going back to, remind myself that I’m not created to just be this model and to wear somebody else’s clothes; but that I’m created to be able to invest in other people’s lives and to be able to glorify the Lord. He doesn’t care if I’m sagging or wrinkled, and all of that because it’s already begun. (Laughter) Some of that’s already happened, and that’s okay.
I have to just—just like any woman, I’m not beyond that. I still have to keep going back and reminding myself. I have a great husband who loves me as I am. When I complain in the mirror and say, “What about this? What if this? I need to get this tweaked and fixed.” No, he just reminds me how much he loves me. You know what? He’s the only one that matters.
Bob: In the end, 1 Peter 3:4 is what really matters; isn’t it?
Bob: That is the beauty, the inner beauty, that God cares more about because, “Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain”—
Rachel: —“but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”
Dennis: It says in that same chapter, in Proverbs 31 that, “She looks at the future and smiles.” She has hope in her heart because her life is not built around the physical side of life.
Rachel, I appreciate you integrity, your honesty. I just think a lot of parents are going to want to get this book and pass it on to their daughters. It wouldn’t even hurt to have a good conversation or two with their sons as well.
Dennis: Thanks for joining us.
Rachel: Thank you so much.
Bob: Rachel’s book, again, is called Fashioned by Faith. We’ve got the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call us toll-free at 800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329, 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. We can make arrangements to have a copy of Rachel’s book sent out to you.
We are always encouraged when we hear from listeners, those of you who get in touch with us and tell us about how God is using FamilyLife Today in your lives. We got a letter recently from South America, from listeners who listen to FamilyLife Today in Spanish. Vida en Familia Hoy is what it’s called in Spanish. It was very encouraging to hear how people are responding to that broadcast in Latin America and in South America.
The same way we hear from folks here in the United States—always an encouragement to our team to know that God is using what we’ve talked about on this program to challenge you, to encourage you, to equip you as a mom, as a dad, or as a husband, or a wife.
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We want to encourage you to be back with us tomorrow. We’re going to introduce you to a couple of pastors from the Detroit area. They will be here to share about how churches in that city got together, not long ago, in a campaign designed to make sure that everyone in Detroit had a chance to hear the claims of Christ. We’ll hear how that went. It’s an exciting story. I hope you can be here for it.
I want to thank our engineer today. His name is Keith Lynch. I also want to thank our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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