Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Finding Your Niche


The last guest blogger for October is my dear friend, Lynn Cowell. Lynn has actually lived this message in her own ministry as well as teaching it in a breakout for She Speaks.

Lynn is actually in the process of transition in her ministry niche. She was primarily speaking to teens and moms of teens, but as an empty nester, she’s feeling called to speak more to women. Her post today is great for those of you who are just starting out but also for those who find yourselves in transition.

Identifying your niche is ground zero for any ministry, so soak deeply in Lynn’s wise words. Welcome, Lynn!


You feel this nudge; this prompting to invest in the lives of others. The question is where do you begin?

Finding your particular niche begins with identify your core message and comprehensive mission. But if you already knew that, you wouldn’t be reading this post would you?

A wise place to start with some pondering and praying.

When you begin to think about what you want to share, initially, this may be very topic may be very broad. You want to help women find Christ. You have a passion to empower women. When our comprehensive mission is this broad, it can make it hard for others to connect with us. They may feel that when they come to hear you speak, they are not quite sure what to expect.

Begin with asking yourself some key questions.

Grab a blank sheet of paper or your journal. Start a fresh page by writing each of these questions at the top each page; one question per page. This isn’t a once a done thing. Think of these pages as an ongoing conversation you will be having with yourself.

As you fill in these blanks, see if you find yourself moving toward something they have in common.

Questions to ponder:

Page 1: What do I love?

What are the things you cannot help but talk about? When you are in a conversation with others, where does that conversation gravitate?

Seeing new believers learn their new identity in Christ? Prayer? Wellness? The next generation?

Become a detective of yourself and write the things you see that you love.

Page 2: What do I loathe?

When this particular subject gets brought up, your passion gets revved up.  You just have to be a part of the change. Sex trafficking? Teen issues? Racial prejudge? Social injustice?

These topics might be part of your particular niche in speaking and being a part of bringing change through your words. 

Page 3: What are my life experiences? 

You have gone through some things in your life that are unique to you. Along the way, you have learned what to do and what not to do. You have experienced God’s faithfulness in ways others can learn from. How might God want to use these life experiences in the lives of others?

Be sure that you have experienced healing enough if the experience is painful that you can speak from a place of moving toward wholeness. 

Page 4: In a sea of vanilla, what makes me different? 

There are so very many voices out there, all with a message to bring. You are a unique person God made. How can that difference come out in your messages and delivery?

Part 5: Where do I see a need in the lives of others that I can speak to? 

In your community, what do you witness in the day to day living that others need God’s wisdom and the knowledge you have?

Moms of young children? Women in the workplace? Teen girls trying to find their place in this world?

You have your own set of gifts and talents the Lord can use to help bring guidance, hope and encouragement to others.

Give yourself grace as you work through this process. And remember, it is not a once-and-done. Just as we are changing and growing, so will be the messages we are bringing.


Visit Lynn’s blog today to see how she’s defined her ministry niche on her beautiful website.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When Life Gets Hard We Can Either Give Up or God-Up


Two of my friends from the Proverbs 31 speaker team graciously said “yes” when I asked them to share a little piece of their breakout from She Speaks last summer. Our guest writer today is my dear friend Tracie Miles sharing some wisdom about what to do when ministry seems too difficult. Welcome, Tracie!


When I said yes to God’s call on my life eleven years ago to become a speaker and a writer, I didn’t even know what those things looked like exactly, much less what God had in mind. I knew it would require a lot of changes and be a lot of hard work and , but I assumed it would ultimately be rewarding, awesome and trouble free. Like a carefree frolic in a beautiful meadow where I just smelled the roses all day long. After all, when we say yes to God, life should get easier, right?

Ummmmmm. Not.

Although I had left some stressors behind by virtue of leaving my corporate job to pursue ministry, I soon noticed there were new stressors raging into my life –  parenting challenges, new financial constraints, trying to figure out who I was, loneliness due to being at home all the time, unexpected marriage issues, extended family member illnesses and problems, and so on.  In fact, it actually seemed like life got harder instead of easier. It was not only upsetting and disappointing but also kind of shocking.

After a while, I found myself grappling with a lot of internal questions, and maybe you have found yourself secretly entertaining these thoughts as well. Questions like:

If I’m following God’s plan and the leading of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t He be protecting me and my family from trouble?

If I heard God correctly about His plan for my life, shouldn’t pursuing my God-inspired dreams be pretty easy? Shouldn’t He be opening doors for me at every turn?

I made sacrifices, gave up my career, took a huge pay cut, and devoted myself to my family and ministry – shouldn’t God reward me with a perfect carefree life now?

God is surely so proud of me for trusting Him and taking a leap of faith into ministry – ahem – and for all the hours and expense I’m putting into trying to build a website, market myself, get a book published, serve at my church, etc., shouldn’t life be easier?

I eventually realized that life getting harder when we choose to serve God is the norm, not the exception. The reality of that hit hard, and I felt frustrated and spent. It was in that moment I knew I was faced with a hard choice. I could give up, or I could God-up.

You’ve heard the term “Man-Up” before, right? It simply means:

  • be brave or tough enough to deal with an unpleasant situation.
  • to fulfill your responsibilities as a man, despite your insecurities and constant ability to place yourself in embarrassing or awkward scenarios.
  • to start being brave and dealing with a difficult situation with courage.

This sounds like a great way to be – being brave and tough and just dealing with difficulties in stride and not letting any problem trip us up. But kind of unrealistic. The good news is that God doesn’t expect us to just “man-up” (aka, “woman-up”) when life gets hard, while pushing through our hard times in our own strength. He doesn’t expect us to put our heads in the sand and ignore our problems and emotions, while keeping a fake smile on our faces. He doesn’t require, much less expect, that we try to keep going like normal and never struggle with doubts, discouragement, burnout or frustration – in life, or in ministry. He knows at some point, we’re all going to feel like giving up, for one reason or another.

But He also knows that we each have the power within us to God-up because of who He is, not because of who we are. What God wants is for us to refuse to give in the enemy’s tactics, no matter what they are, and not let them keep us from pursuing our faith inspired dreams. He wants us to God-up –  to rely on holy strength and power to be brave enough to deal with unpleasant situations, push past our insecurities, and start facing difficulties with courage and faith – so that frustration and discouragement don’t cause us to give up.

You see, whenever life gets hard, we can either give-up or God-up. The choice is always ours.

It is awesome and rewarding to serve God with our lives, but on friend, it will certainly never be trouble free. Yet, what an unmatched privilege it is for God to call us to serve at all, in the unique ways He gifts us each to do so.

No calling from God will ever be easy, nor will life. But every time we choose to God-up instead of give up, God will always show up. And that my friend, makes it all worthwhile.



Tracie Miles is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author who helps women grow stronger in their faith, learn to love who they are in Christ, and pursue the life of purpose God designed them for. Visit Tracie’s blog by clicking here.


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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Start with the End


My oldest son Zachary is engaged!  There’s so much rejoicing in the Chitwoods’ lives for the answer to our prayers.  Since the day he was born, I have prayed for Zach’s future wife to be a girl who would love God, love Zach, and, of course, love this mom! And these prayers have been answered abundantly.

Beyond just wanting to talk about this engagement all the time, what does this have to do with writing?  Hold on…we’re getting there.

While Zachary and Kylie settle into their junior year of college, they’ve given the moms freedom to commence wedding planning.  We delved in with gusto, little prompting needed.

The first place we started was to ask Zachary and Kylie, What do you want your wedding to look like?  Give us your top three priorities. 

We probed with questions:  Elegant or casual?  Large or small?  Indoors or outdoors?  Black tie or rustic?

Their answer, because I’m sure you’re wondering…. An elegantly casual, festive celebration with outdoor and indoor areas.  And Kylie wants pizza.

fiance Kylie with a pizza bigger than she is!

Now that we know the goal, we’re ready for wedding planning.

In the same way knowing the end goal of your writing will shape your writing journey.

What’s the end goal for your writing? 

I can think of many ways you might answer this question.  Maybe you’re not sure; you’re figuring out your goal in the process.  You’d like something written to share with your family.  You’ve been speaking for years and want an accompanying manuscript for your audience.  Maybe you want to try self-publishing.  Maybe your ultimate goal is a contract with a publishing house.

I know you may be in the very beginning of your writing journey.  Maybe all you can consider right now as an end goal is simply to stick to a consistent writing time.  That’s okay, but trust me.  The early stage of the writing journey is the best time to define your end goal.  It will motivate you, increase your efficiency, and save you from feeling overwhelmed as you write.

Let these questions help you define your writing end goal.

Describe your audience. 

How old is your reader?  What makes her happy, what brings her down?  What’s her typical day like?  What does she wish or hope?  What kind of relationship does she have with God, her family, and her friends?  Does she go to church?  Has she been a Christian for a while, or is she just learning about her faith?  Let your imagination roam, as you picture her reading your manuscript. 

Identify your purpose. 

Entertain, inform, encourage, exhort, or teach can all be purposes. Can you be even more specific? For example, help women to engage with God’s Word; reach freedom from strongholds; or provide encouragement for everyday parenting.

Determine which genre (fancy word for type or form of manuscript). A memoir looks different from a devotional, which looks different from a how-to book. A combination of several forms?

One more thing.  Write down your end goal.  Display it in a place where you will see it daily.  Review it on a regular basis.  Let it have space in your mind, heart and schedule.

It’s okay if you wander off the path some; rabbit trails and tangents can be part of the journey.   I’ve already gotten off track a bit with the wedding planning.  Kylie gently reminded me of her end goal when I sent her a few photos (okay, a whole lot of photos) of reception ideas.  In response to one picture of tables covered in white linen tablecloths and burlap napkins, she texted, No burlap, please.  The end goal reminder got me back on track. 

Take some time to talk to God about your writing destination.  He made you a writer, and He has a plan for your writing.  Then write down your end goal, and let it  be your guide as you write.

Sign-up opportunity for Proverbs 31 Ministries’ COMPEL is now open! 

Proverbs 31 Ministries offers an amazing writing training service called COMPEL. Subscribing to this monthly service gives you access to practical and inspirational podcasts, written teachings, interviews of well-known Christian nonfiction writers, and so much more. Well worth the $25/month fee! Registration is only open several times a year, so don’t miss this opportunity. Click here to find out more and to register!


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Friday, October 7, 2016

Waiting Misconceptions & a Giveaway


This month I have the pleasure of introducing some new voices to the blog. I can’t wait for you to meet my wise friends!

I’m leading off with a message from my friend Wendy Pope that I know all of us in ministry need. Almost without fail, God uses a wait to develop the character of His speaking and writing girls. You’re in one of two categories today. Either you’re in the midst of a wait (and it seems like ministry doors are never going to swing open!) or you remember the pain of the wait you’ve already lived.

Either way, Wendy has perspective-changing words for us today, so please welcome her and leave a comment for the amazing giveaway at the end. Take it away, Wendy!


When times get hard and the wait seems too long, we begin to doubt God as well as the unlimited and mind-blowing future He has planned for us. We begin to question God: Did I hear You correctly? Do You see what I am going through? Why does this have to be so hard? We blame God because our circumstances seem more difficult than before we invited Him into our wait. It is during these times that we have to fight to maintain our focus on the Person of our faith rather than the object of wait or distracting circumstances that surround us. One way to do this is through prayer.

The Lord longs for us to reach out to Him and ask for help, clarity, and direction. See what James 1:5–8 says: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open” (THE MESSAGE). In this verse, James clearly tells us we are to ask our Father for what we need. James says God loves to help. I certainly like the sound of that—how about you?

Wait and See identifies common misconceptions “waiters” encounter. Recognizing these misconceptions will empower us to wait well, stay present in the present, and experience God in our delay.

Misconception #1: If I am waiting, I must not have heard God correctly.

Meet Ashley: Ashley learned that waiting doesn’t necessarily mean you heard God incorrectly. Ashley says, “We give up too easily because we don’t see what we want to see when we want to see it.”

Misconception #2: If I am waiting, I must desire something not in God’s will for my life.

Meet Samantha: Samantha desired to be married. She knew God ordained and approved marriage, but did He want her to be married? There are plenty of verses in the Bible about marriage, relationships, and how to be a loving spouse. Yet Samantha also knew the verses in which Paul clearly states that some people are called to remain single.

Misconception #3: If I am waiting, I must not be praying enough.

Meet Dianna: Day after day, Dianna prayed and sought the Lord. Many days, she ate only one meal so her family could have all the food they needed. She watched her husband take odd jobs here and there just to make ends meet. She knew in her heart God would supply their needs, but she had to keep telling her head.

Misconception #4: If I am waiting, I must not have enough faith.

Meet Scott and Wendy: This was the lie I believed as we agonized over my husband’s declining health. What was I doing wrong? Was God holding my past against me? Had I not done enough to earn His favor? Sometimes waiting has less to do with the strength of your faith and more to do the perfection of God’s timing.

Misconception #5: If I am waiting, I must not be working hard enough.

Meet David: David did not ask to be king. David did not dream of being king. He wasn’t born into a royal family line from which he would naturally be appointed king. God chose David to be king. It is possible you and I could find ourselves waiting for something we never desired but God desires for us. He knows better than we do what we need to fulfill what He’s called us to do.

We need to prepare in the pauses so we’re ready to embrace God’s plans.

WendyPope_LowResWendy is the wife of Scott, mother of Blaire and Griffin, author, speaker, and Bible study teacher. She loves lazy Sundays watching golf with her husband, thrift-store shopping with her daughter, and watching building shows with her son.

Wendy is the author of Wait and See. She is a contributing author to the Real-Life Women’s Devotional Bible, Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Daily Living, The Reason We Speak, and God’s Purpose for Every Woman. Wendy writes devotions for Proverbs 31 Ministries’“Encouragement for Today” and is a content provider for the free online devotion app First 5 as well as a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker team.

She leads women all over the world to life change through her in-depth online Bible studies. She has led thousands of women through her Read through the Word study of the One Chronological Bible. Down-to-earth and transparent, Wendy teaches in a way that women feel she is speaking directly to their hearts.



To enter for the fabulous giveaway below, leave a comment telling us a lesson you learned in a wait. If you’re living life on the fly today, you can simply say, “I’m preparing in the pause.”

wait-and-see-giveawayThis incredible gift pack includes: a copy of Wait and See, whimsical beaded bookmark with a butterfly charm, and hand stamped Don’t Rush the Wait aluminum cuff bangle.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Two Keys to a Powerful Event Part 2


In last week’s post I talked about a retreat that I led a couple of weeks ago in Lake Tahoe. (Not a bad place to suffer for Jesus. Check out my back drop…)img_1902img_1903Not so hard to bring women into communion with God in a place like this, right?! But I digress…

The event planners’ vision was Key #1 to making this a fabulous event, and today I want to share the second essential element.

Key #2–Prayer

The planning team had a group of about 10 women who started praying almost 9 months prior to the event. They had a prayer plan that included praying weekly together for common themes like unity for the planning team, common vision for the planning team, the retreat center, the details, the speaker, the hearts of the women who were coming….

I spent time with many of the women on the prayer team, and they were clearly prayer warriors, women who had cultivated the discipline and joy of prayer in their lives for years.

The whole team truly ascribed to this belief– “Prayer isn’t just the preparation for the work. Prayer is the work.”

I have to tell you, as a do-er rather than a be-er, I’ve had to be won around to believing this truth, but this event strengthened my conviction of the crucial nature of prayer even more.

As speakers, how can we encourage event planners to embrace these 2 keys– vision & prayer?

Well, it’s tricky. We want to be respectful of their authority and position while gently guiding them to create events with real substance, so I’ve been thinking about ways I can weave these keys into my interactions with event planners. Here are some ways I want to plant the seeds for vision and prayer in the future.

  1. Ask thought-provoking questions. I always start the conversation with an event planner by saying, “Tell me about your vision for this event. What are the outcomes God has put on your heart?” More often than not, she flounders a little at this question. The question itself is food for thought, though. From now on, I plan to follow up by telling planners about this event and suggesting that they write a vision statement for the event with their team that they can send to me. It’s true that their clarity of vision will help me as a speaker, but it will help them too. 🙂
  2. Be the model of prayer. In the past, I’ve asked for attendees names so that I can pray close to the event. Now, I’m going to ask them for prayer requests in the first conversation. Again, I can recount what I saw at the Tahoe event as an example of why I’m more determined to pray. Hopefully, it will be contagious!
  3. Offer extra resources. On my “For Event Planners” page (If you don’t have one, take a look at mine and add one to your website today. Seriously. Best, most time-saving idea I’ve ever implemented!) I have an article about increasing attendance. I’m going to look for some others that I can add that emphasize vision and prayer to make a whole section of excellent articles for event planners. Bonus for them and a way for me to softly influence their event.

Now I’d love to hear from you! What keys have you seen implemented to create great events? How have you been able to gently guide event planners to be intentional about their event?


PS. I’m sure most of you are like me and hate the whole ministry and money tangle. Just wanted to share an article by Jon Acuff that I read today that is SO HELPFUL and provides a script for those awkward moments when it’s time to talk about your speaker fee. Click here to read it.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Do You Want Hands On Experience


Note: The application process for this internship is closed. If you’re interested, we’ll be looking for a new set of interns in 8-12 months. We’ll announce it here, so please apply next time. 🙂

I’ve gotten the best training from working with women in the trenches in every professional area of my life. When I was teaching, I learned much more from other mentor teachers than I ever learned in a college class. In ministry, I’ve learned the most by working alongside other women in ministry with more experience than I have.

That’s why I’m particularly excited to offer hands-on training to other women in ministry! Are you called to speak and write? Cheri Gregory and I are seeking interns to help us with our new Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast. It’s growing, and we’re quickly seeing that we can’t do it all ourselves.

internsHere’s what’s NOT required:

  • Prior experience or knowledge of podcasting.
  • Living near us. Work will be done remotely. (Cheri and I actually live on opposite coasts. Yeah for technology!)

Here’s what IS required:

  • A deep love for Jesus and His people.
  • Reliability.
  • Work ethic.

For more information about the podcast itself, .

Please email Cheri at  for all the details about the internships and application information, but you’ll receive top-notch training for speakers and writers in return for hours worked. I hope that I’ll be able to connect with some of you!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Two Keys to a Powerful Event–Part 1

Last weekend, I spoke for a retreat that was one of my top five favorite events in which I’ve ever participated. From beginning to end, it was a powerful, life-transforming time.

It has become a joke with my Proverbs 31 sisters that “I wish I had women crying at the altar” at my events. We have speakers like that on our team–women with a stirring testimony and the gift of evangelism. I’m not that speaker.

I’ve mostly made peace with that fact. Just like I want you to embrace the speaker you’re created to be rather than than the speaker you wish you were, I try to extend that grace to myself too. I’m more of a teacher than an evangelist, so tears aren’t the normal response to my messages.

This event was different, though. From the opening notes of the worship team, the presence of God was evident, filling the room. And there were tears. Copious tears–even after the first session that never inspires tears.

What was happening?

By the end of the weekend, the women were actually begging me to let them stop crying. That made me laugh! (A little sick–I know.)

I know it wasn’t me, though. I didn’t rewrite the messages to be more emotional. I didn’t add stories to manipulate feelings. I didn’t work to evoke tears.

God was powerfully at work in hearts that came to the event open to Him, and it was all because of the event planners. They implemented 2 keys that created an event where the power of God was unleashed.

Key #1– Strong Vision

Before I even had the first call with the event planners, Karen and Sheryl, they sent me a copy of their vision statement for the event. It was clear and detailed. The bottom line was that they wanted a retreat where every woman who attended would personally hear the voice of God.

I don’t think I’ve ever had event planners be so intentional about their vision.

When we talked, they carefully questioned me about my messages, selected several topics, and took them back to the team to pray over before choosing. It was important to them that my messages facilitate their desired outcome. During the course of the weekend, it was obvious that every moment was planned with the end in mind. The planning team put together a weekend with both teaching and silence so that women could hear from God.

Come back for Part 2 next week when I’ll share the second key along with how we as speakers can help less experienced event planners to use these two keys to create events that change people’s lives.


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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What Are Values Statements and Why Do I Need Them?


The writing process varies and is unique to each writer.  I do a lot of prewriting – thinking, journaling, jotting down thoughts all over the place in various notebooks or computer.  Then I take these thoughts and start giving them some kind of working title/subtitle, structure and direction.  Finally, I start writing a rough draft.

Your writing process may be different – and that’s great!  We need to find a process that works!  However, I highly recommend that whatever your process is that you take this one prewriting step of creating value statements.

What are value statements?  Value statements let your readers know the value to them of reading your book. 

There are two reasons value statements are important. 

First, for you the writer value statements provide direction when you’re writing.   They’re a bit like a very informal outline, or if you don’t like that outline word, they’re like a map of the main points of your book.


Secondly, for the readers value statements communicate what’s in it for them if they read your book. They want to pick up your book, read the back copy (where value statements are often found), and have an idea if your book will help them.

Another way to identify value statements is to imagine your readers’ felt needs.  In other words what do they feel and what do they need?  Readers today are looking for results and for their needs to be met.

Let’s look at examples of value statements from one of Lysa TerKeurst’s books.

Note there are a couple of sentences of lead in, and then the bullet points below are the value statements. 


The Best Yes:  Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

By Lysa TerKeurst

(From the back copy of this book)

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God.  In The Best Yes she will help you

  • Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
  • Escape the shame and guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
  • Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom-based decision-making process.
  • Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.

Now let me give you an example of the thinking process to develop a value statement.

I start with my title and subtitle, What a Husband Needs from his Wife: Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually, both giving me the main direction for my book.

Then I begin to think about some of the points I want to communicate to my readers about what a wife needs to know about her husband’s needs. I know many couples get hung up on the communication issue.

So I start with the word communication.  Then I ask myself: What does a husband need when it comes to communication and what does a wife need?

I answer: A wife and a husband both want good communication, but their communication styles are often very different from one another.  This difference often leads to conflict. 

Then I ask: Why does a couple need good communication in marriage?  Another way to think of this, So that what will happen?

I answer: A couple needs good communication so that they feel close to one another and connected. And it prevents fighting and conflicts. 

So now I write some lead in, and then I write a value statement based on answering these questions.

“Melanie will provide practical and biblically sound ideas to help married couples understand how to grow closer as a couple.  She will show you how to

  • Use communication tools to connect in a way that brings closeness instead of conflict.
  • Etc…

So, now it’s your turn! Use these notes and examples as guidelines.  Most books have 3 – 5 value statements.

I promise it is worth the time and effort to create value statements.  As you write your book, you’ll find value statements to be an invaluable map, pointing your writing in the right direction and providing a way for you to stay on course.  Ultimately, value statements help your book deliver the content your readers want and need.

Blessings –


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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to Find Your Purpose and Live It


I have a special treat for you today! My friend Christa Hutchins is guest posting about something we all wrestle with–purpose. She’s got fabulous advice, and there’s a special link at the bottom, Next Step readers. Make sure to read to the end and click over for two excellent resources Christa has to share with us.

Take it away, Christa!

I have a problem. I am an idea horder.  I collect ideas like little love notes and tuck them in my pocket.  I rarely experience writer’s block, or go through dry seasons of boredom and routine, because something new and exciting is always just around the bend.

Sometimes, all those ideas are too much.  I feel suffocated by the weight of deciding which ones to do and guilty over the ones I know I’ll never do. Raise your hand if you can relate?

When we are overwhelmed by ideas, we can use our purpose as a filter to turn the right possibilities into realities.  But what is my purpose?  What is yours?

Passion is easy.  Passion is what gets us up in the morning, keeps us up at night and makes us excited in between.  Purpose is what we are supposed to do with that passion.

As Christians, we love to quote Romans 8:28.  When we want to encourage someone going through a rough time, we may start with the beginning:

“ And we know that all things work together for good…”

If we want to feel super spiritual, we remember that it also says,

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God ….”

We often will forget about the end of the verse.

“ And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (NKJV)

Understanding that purpose is where truly effective ministry begins.  God has a specific plan for our ministry and called us according to His purpose. That purpose can be found at the intersection of your Why, your Who and your You.

Find Your Why

Your Why is the foundation of your calling. It is the thing that excites and energizes you. It can also be the thing that grieves you deeply. Either way, it motivates you to action.  Like Isaiah saying “Here am I, send me!”, you always raise your hand when you see a need in the area of your Why.

Find Your Who

Your Who is the group of people who need what you have.  Think of ones you are able to build special relationships with and who seek you out for advice.

Develop a very detailed picture in your mind of your target audience. Where are they? What are they doing right now? What makes them happy? What needs or issues do they have in their life? What is causing them pain or guilt?  Do they lay down at night feeling guilty because of what did or didn’t happen during the day? What tender spots can you touch in their lives?

Find Your You

How has God uniquely gifted and prepared you for this ministry?  Your You is the way you meet needs.    It may be uncomfortable, but take a close look at yourself and consider your life experiences, personality, practical skills and strengths and education.

As you work through these areas, common threads will run through them. You’ll find your purpose at the place where God ties the threads together and forms a knot in your heart.

Using Your Purpose as a Filter

Your purpose is not something to tuck away in a notebook or put on the About page of your website.  It’s not a marketing tool or even a motivational statement.

Your purpose should be your close companion as you grow and lead your ministry.  It guides you through the day to day decisions, conflicts, and experiences.

As you consider decisions and steps to take, filter them through your purpose by asking these questions:


  • Am I passionate about this?
  • Will it help me meet a need that grieves me?
  • Do I feel a deep, compelling desire to get involved?


  • Does this deepen my connection with the people I’m called to serve?
  • Am I doing this to serve my audience or to serve myself?
  • Will this allow me to reach people I could not otherwise reach?


  • Does this make good use of my talents and abilities?
  • Does this help me acquire skills I can use to reach my audience?
  • Does this allow me to operate in my strengths? Does it build me up in my areas of weakness?

Filtering your decisions through these questions helps settle things in our heart.  It lends confidence for those difficult days when we question our calling.  And believe me, we ALL face those days. Many of them.

But when we do, our Purpose keeps us grounded in God’s plan and plants hope for the days of seeing that purpose fulfilled.

I’d love to give you some resources to help you dig deeper into your Purpose.  Visit this special page (http://doanewthing.com/next-step) I created just for Next Step Readers.

CHutchins HeadshotChrista Hutchins is a “doer-of-things” who provides ministry coaching, project management and administrative support for speakers, writers and ministry leaders. Her writing and courses provide practical insight into moving your God-sized dream from vision to action. Christa lives in South Louisiana with her husband in their delightfully empty nest, where you usually will find her with her nose stuck in a book or sipping on a triple tall, non-fat peppermint mocha.
Connect with Christa at www.doanewthing.com, on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/doanewthing)
and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/mckdbooks).



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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Question I Get Asked Most

There is one question that I’m asked most both here on the website and when I interact with speakers at She Speaks. They want to know, “How do I increase my speaking opportunities?”

It’s such a great question, but it has such a long answer. I want to help answer it today by reposting a series that my sweet friend Tracie Miles wrote for Next Step years ago. Today, I’m reposting the first of the series, and there will be a link at the end to access the series in its entirety.

If you’ve had the most-asked question, you’re going to LOVE this, and even if you’re down the road a bit, the series will be a great refresher! Take it away, Tracie!


Doesn’t the term “marketing your ministry” sound crass, or too business like?

Isn’t ministry supposed to be about spirituality and walking through the doors that God opens? 

Isn’t marketing typically done to try to make ourselves known, raise our platforms, increase business, or just make more money?

Is trying to market my ministry a prideful or ungodly thing to do? 

The above questions are ones that most new speakers struggle with as they face the challenge of balancing their desire to speak, versus the fear of being prideful and self promoting.  I know this first hand, because I struggled with that balance when I first felt called into speaking about five years ago.

Even though I felt sure of God’s call on my life to be a speaker. I vividly remember wondering how in the world anyone was going to know that I existed. I also remember wondering why in the world anyone would ever consider hiring me as their event speaker!

However, my ambition and desire to do God’s will was stronger than my insecurities, so I took the plunge and embraced the mindset that if God had planted this dream in my heart,  that He would bless my marketing efforts to move forward with it!

So I began to take some baby steps – such as creating my own website through Yahoo, developing a brochure, a business card, and a promotional postcard, and formulating a mailing lists/database which I compiled from addresses on the internet.

We often fear that through intensive marketing, we will be overstepping God’s will, pushing our name, and trying to make our own paths.

Although these are valid and normal concerns for someone whose heart is sold out for Christ, I believe that God encourages us to invest in ourselves, just as He invests in us.  When our investment pays off, He gets all the glory. As long as we keep pride at bay, we can feel confident in pursuing God’s will.

Think about it this way.  It does not glorify God for us to acknowledge the spiritual gifts that He has given us, and even be thankful for them – but then never use them.

God desires that we use our investments wisely – just like the parable of the five talents in Matthew 25 . Although the word “talents” in the parable is referring to money, you can obviously extend the meaning to other areas as well. If you still have concerns, or even if you don’t, I want to encourage you to take some time to read over that parable in your spare time, and pray about how GOD is calling you to begin investing in YOU.

Now that I have dispelled the myth that you can’t invest in marketing your talents, I want to spend the rest of this marketing series giving you some tips on building your speaking ministry from the ground up.  —Tracie Miles


To read the rest of the Marketing Your Message series, click here.

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