Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to Walk in Your Calling When Your Confidence is Crashing (Part 4)


Every year, even after joining the Proverbs 31 team, I’d walk into the ballroom at She Speaks and think, “What am I doing here?”

Surrounded by over 700 amazing women who love God and communicate His Word, I couldn’t figure out what in the world I could add. When I read her blog… When I heard her eloquence… When I marveled at her quick response (it takes me two weeks to come up with anything remotely wise)… I never felt like I measured up. Like I had anything worthwhile to contribute.

What’s a girl to do when she feels crushed by comparison?

Here are some steps to take that can help set you free from the comparison trap:

Define your ministry niche. God has created you uniquely. There’s no one else like you. Because of that simple fact, your voice is needed. We can find confidence in our God-created uniqueness instead of despairing that we’re not as good as the rest. In an audience, you’re going to connect with some people who don’t connect with me at all. Conversely, there will be some folks who feel like they’ve lived a parallel life with me while they don’t get you at all!

When we understand our ministry niche, defined by our life experiences and passions, it sets us free from comparison. The most powerful exercise I’ve done to find my niche is to develop a tagline. For those of you who have read this blog for awhile, you know I’m a huge proponent for having a tagline. Whether you’re an advanced speaker or a speaker-in-the-making who has never stood before an audience, having a tagline is an essential in my book. The power of the process is much more powerful than the product of the tagline.

If you’ve never developed a tagline, is a fabulous free resource, or you could work with me. :) Working on taglines with my coaching clients is one of my favorite things to do! Click here to read about coaching services.

Define the value you bring. One of the primary questions to ask as you define your ministry niche/develop a tagline is “What is the gift God has given me that I’m called to pass on to my audience?” All my messages are personal gifts from God long before I share them with an audience. Our messages should be lessons worked into our lives first. All of them should be needed shifts within our heart; then, and only then, do we have something valuable to share.

This is a new way to think about our messages and marketing as well. When we make this change in our thinking, comparison fades and marketing becomes about service instead of self-serving.

As speakers, we’re called to follow God and serve others. Comparison impedes both those callings. Only when we give up comparisons can we fully follow He who is beyond compare. 

beyond compare

So let’s do the things we need to do to step out of comparisons and into whole-hearted service!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Walking in Your Calling When Your Confidence is Crashing (Part 3)

(If you’re catching up… click here to read Part 1. Click here to read Part 2)

Last week we talked about recalling and recording your calling when you start to feel unsure of your calling.

The third thing to do is to remember that everyone is in the same boat. There’s no perfect speaker, so there’s no one who has avoided failures and flops. Every speaker has struggled at one point with doubt and insecurity, and all of us have had dreams that were detoured.

I’m a linear thinker, and I’d love to have a linear ministry path. It just doesn’t happen, though, so I’m getting over it. :) Jeff Goins recently said it this way on his blog, “The experience of finding your calling is both mysterious and practical. It takes effort but also seems to happen to you at times. What I’ve come to understand is that finding your purpose is more of a path than a plan: it involves unexpected twists and turns that at times look like accidents but actually are a part of the process.”

This calls for daily obedience and spiritual eyes watching to see where He is at work. I want to trust God for just enough light for the next step. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) I want to make sure I’m watching for the doors God is opening for me instead of trying to pound down the ones He’s closed. “…See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut….” (Rev. 3:8)

One way to remind yourself of these truths is to talk to a speaker who is further down the path than you. Ask her to share stories of her years in ministry–the good, the bad, and the ugly. She’ll have a chance to laugh with you about some things that weren’t so funny back in the day, and you’ll have the encouragement of knowing that you’re not alone in the struggle.

God’s calling is sure. We can walk confidently in His sure calling when we recall, record, and remember!

Note: I have to share this with y’all since we’ll all friends here. Years ago, I had a pastor I adored, but his penchant for alliteration got under my skin since he used it every Sunday. I was tempted to make an Alliteraters Anonymous certificate for him, but I crucified the flesh and resisted. 

For some reason when I was preparing for She Speaks and this breakout, I started alliterating and couldn’t stop. It made me laugh at myself, so I hope you’ll laugh with me. The rest of the series is the same!



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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Walking in Your Calling When Your Confidence is Crashing (Part 2)

If you missed last week, click here. It’s gotten late, and since this is the only time to post this week, I’m diving right in!

When you’re unsure of your calling… 

No matter how many good days you’ve had in ministry, it only takes one bad day to shake us up. Here are two of three things to do when you start to wonder if you’re really supposed to be doing this at all:

  1. Recall the beginning. When did you first know you were called to speak or write? There are three memories of events when I knew for sure. One was at a table listening to a friend in ministry when I thought, “I’d do anything if it was my full time job to talk about Jesus all day.” The second happened as I sat on a dirt floor in a slum of Kolkata telling stories of the Bible to women while they listened enraptured by His truth. The third was the first time I spoke in front of a large crowd. I was shaking in my shoes, but when it was all over, I was swept with the knowledge that I had just done what I was made to do. Those three memories are strong and clear, and I ruminate on them on tough days.
  2. Record the story of your calling. What has happened since then that has confirmed your calling? When I joined the P31 team, Micca Campbell was my coach, and she gave me great advice. She urged me to write down all the affirmations of my calling–comments after an event, a mentor’s encouragement, etc. I have to confess that I haven’t done it in a journal, but I have a record. I keep copies of emails and cards people send on my desk to reread in moments of despair. You’ve sent me some of the words of affirmation in that stack! Another way to do it is to make a spiritual timeline and add significant ministry events to your timeline as they happen. Years ago when I did Experiencing God, I carried a timeline like this in my Bible everywhere I went as a reminder of God’s work in and through me.

Number 3 is a biggie, so I’ll share that one in a whole post next week. Would you share some of your remembrances and recordings with us? I’d love to hear your stories of calling!


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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How to Walk in Your Calling When Your Confidence is Crashing (Part 1)


Just this morning I had a conversation with a woman who is called, but she’s afraid to say it out loud. I know how that feels! This year I’ve tackled the biggest learning curve of my life in writing and releasing my first book.

Not only was it challenging professionally, but it was daunting spiritually. At every turn I wondered, “Can I really do this? Did I hear God correctly? What in the world was I thinking to agree to this?”

I battled fear, anxiety, sleeplessness, insecurity, and comparison. Sometimes I God provided the power to overcome, gut lots of times I felt like I was losing the fight.

I’m guessing… just guessing… but I don’t think I’m the only one that struggles with confidence in her calling and her abilities. The fact that Next Step blog has so many followers but so few commenters tells me that there’s a silent crowd out there wondering if you can just sneak in and listen without having to actually say, “I’m a speaker.”

I know how it feels to just want to hide. The year I joined the Proverbs 31 speaker team I went to a national conference of women’s ministry leaders, and lots of them asked me, “What do you do?” I’d blush and shuffle my feet and squirm, and then I’d mutter under my breath, “I speak.” I was so afraid somebody was going to hear me and then respond, “No you don’t!!”

I reverted to whispering, “I’m an author” this year, but I’m working through it! One of the ways I always learn something new is to teach what I’m learning, so I led a breakout at She Speaks this year called “How to Walk in Your Calling When Your Confidence is Crashing.” I’m going to share lots of that content with you in the next few weeks.

Are you in the silent crowd? This series is for you!

Are you in a season with a huge learning curve? It’s for you too!

Are you called to mentor and lead? It’s for you to share with all the women around you who need encouraging!

This week I wanted to introduce the series and leave you with one little tidbit of hope. (Next week we’ll launch into the practical tips.) When I was in college, I went to a lecture with my education class led by T. Berry Brazelton. Dr. Brazelton was a pediatrician and an expert in child development. We future teachers sat on the edge of our seat for his advice.

Even though that was 20 years ago, one of the truths he shared stuck with me. He explained that before leaps in development, children will often digress. For example, before a child walks, he might stop sleeping through the night. Before she’s potty trained, she may start sucking her thumb again, etc. A big leap is preceded by falling back a few steps.

After studying the ministry path I’ve been on over the past 15 years, I think the same has been true of me. Before God opens a new door or expands opportunity, I go through a time of wrestling and struggle. Sometimes it even extends into the time immediately after.

I’ll talk more about what that’s looked like for me in the next few weeks, but here’s what I want to leave you with today. Are you struggling? Do you feel like your confidence has crashed, ignited, and burned? Have you taken five steps back?

Here’s some hope. Maybe, just maybe God is up to something. Maybe He’s strengthening your faith in the struggle. Maybe He’s refining your character in the fire. Maybe He’s giving you a new skill in the fight of your life.

Maybe, just maybe He’s preparing you for a leap forward.

Hold on to that today as a shred of hope. Even if you can only whisper it, name your calling out loud, and determine today to walk in it.

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