062: What’s Holding You Back From Living Out Your Calling?
A couple of episodes ago I shared with you that I’m going through the Bible study by Tony Evans called “It’s Not Too Late.” It focuses on six different people in the Bible and how their lives of mistakes and failures were redeemed so they could be used by God. I highly recommend this study if you’ve not done it.
So far we’ve studied the lives of Moses, Rahab, and Jacob. This week we are learning about Esther. I’ve had so many personal God encounters during this study. God has shown Himself faithful as He has patiently answered questions I’ve had a long time in regards to what I feel He has been calling me to do.
You see, God called me over 16 years ago to help women. It was a very clear calling with no specific direction given as to how I was fulfilling that calling. However, over the years, God has given me numerous opportunities to help and serve women. Many of those opportunities were ones I would never have dreamed of being able to do.
Writing for a national magazine, serving in various leadership roles, and having a blog and podcast that reaches so many women are all things that if you’d told me in high school that I would be doing them I’d say you were crazy. I mean I was the very shy introverted girl who hated getting up in front of people to speak. Even to do high school reports.
But God has been so gracious to give me opportunities to be trained and to work through some of my fears. He has been the author of the blog posts and articles I’ve written. It is amazing to me how much my life has been blessed through this calling to help women.
However, when I started on the journey with The Planning Woman about two years ago, I had such great plans to make this platform into a business that would help women discover their purpose, develop plans for living out that purpose, and showing them how to delight in the peace that comes from having purpose and a plan.
When I look back over the last two years, I can rejoice in the fact that I did follow through with several of the plans I had laid out. However, I’m not anywhere close to where I thought I’d be at this time with my business. And while it’s easy to blame outside things such as thinking no one is attracted to my message or products, I’m not good enough to succeed, or God doesn’t want me to succeed, the reality is my success or failure is in my own hands.
Let me explain because I know that God directs our steps and He is in control of what ultimately happens. However, I believe that if He has given me an assignment, it’s up to me to do the work it takes to see it succeed.
A friend reminded me this week of the quote by St. Augustine, “Pray as if everything depended on God. Work as everything depended on you.”
So I know that I’ve heard Him clearly that I am to help women and that the way He wants me to do that right now in this season of life is through The Planning Woman. If I’m to follow in obedience to His call, then I have to do the work. There are no excuses except that I’m not following through with what He has called me to do. I am not being consistent in my work and asking Him to guide me in figuring out how to help women best through The Planning Woman.
As I said, God spoke to me clearly through the lives of the people we are studying. Most recently our discussion centered around the life of Jacob and how he had to wrestle with God to receive a blessing.
Dr. Evans shared that Jacob could not receive the blessing God had for him until he had been broken and his character was ready to receive it. If you know anything about the life of Jacob you’ll recall that his name means deceiver. He deceived his father Isaac to give him the family blessing over his older brother Esau. Jacob was known as a deceiver throughout his early life.
When he encounters God in an all-night wrestling match Jacob had grown and mature to the point that he could receive God’s blessing. And what a blessing it was! He became the father of the Israelites and God changed his name to Israel because he struggled with God and prevailed.
I was so convicted by the thought that God cannot bless me through The Planning Woman until my character is ready to receive it. I told some of the other leaders in the study that I’ve been struggling with being successful because I’m always asking God for one more sign to make sure I’m on the right path. This declaration that my character needs to be ready to receive the blessing is the ultimate sign I needed.
I’m praying it’s what keeps me working and producing content like this podcast and encouraging women through The Planning Woman Community group on Facebook. I also feel like it’s the final word I’m going to hear from Him on this. It’s up to me to follow through and get the work done.
Now, will I experience great success and monetary blessings if I obey and follow through? Maybe not in the way the world views success. But I think if I’m obedient, God will continue to open more doors of opportunity to help women and serve them.
Obstacles we face in living out our calling
Not realizing the opposite of obedience is disobedience.
If we are not walking out our callings, then we’re being disobedient. I believe if you know what you’re supposed to do but don’t do it, then you’re being disobedient.
This week I came across a verse in my devotion time this week that I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to before. It is Luke 6:46 and it says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?”
This verse is in the context of Jesus sharing the parable of the man who built his house upon the rock instead of on the sand. The man who built on the rock had a firm foundation and withstood the storms. The man who built on the sand saw everything he had worked for washed away when the storms came.
I have to say I felt very convicted when I read this verse. It’s as if God was saying, Jennifer, you know what to do yet you continue to ask me for a sign and keep putting things off. Now get to work! And reading that verse during this particular time when I feel more in touch with God and have more assurance that I’m on the right path was just confirming to me that I just need to follow through with what God has told me to do.
So I want to encourage you that if you know what to do, then go do it!
Maybe you’re fearful of what you’ll have to give up if you follow God’s calling. Or perhaps you know He’s calling you to do something out of your comfort zone. You are afraid of what that may mean.
I’ve already mentioned how when I was in high school and even college, I hated public speaking. But God has given me so many opportunities in different ways to improve my skills. And even though I’m still nervous at times, it doesn’t cause me to be paralyzed by fear.
I want to be honest and transparent with you here and share my main fear. And that is I’m afraid I’m going to do a ton of work and not see any results. Or at least the results I think I should see. And I know that’s crazy because people work hard all the time and become successful in their own way. Some people can even seem to not do a ton of work and still become successful. So why wouldn’t it be any different for me? This is definitely my #1 obstacle.
Wanting the approval of others.
Maybe our calling is not in the norm of what other people seem to be doing. Or we’re so uncertain of whether we heard God right that we want others to approve what we’re doing.
I’m no theologian, but I believe your calling is between you and God and not at the mercy of others’ opinions. Yes, God uses others to affirm and help us fulfill our callings but they are not the ultimate authority. If you struggle with this I say to keep it a matter of prayer. Ask God to clarify your calling. And find someone you know has your best interest in mind and is completely trustworthy. There is nothing wrong with having a mentor or friend to bounce ideas off of.
We don’t know what our calling is in this season of our lives.
Maybe you’re in a season of change. You could be like me and are facing a new season of being an empty-nester. Or your kids have all started to school and you’re not sure what to do with your days now. Or maybe you’re a new grandmother and that has opened up a whole new set of possibilities and opportunities.
You could just be in a funk and feel like something needs to change but don’t know what that is. Or, you may not be in a season of change but your life is screaming for one.
You know what I’m going to say here first. Go to God. We can’t know our callings if we are not in direct communication with Him on a daily basis.
Also, think about what excites you in life. What do you wish you could do more of? Or what would you like to do that you are not doing now? I firmly believe God places desires in our hearts that lead us to do things that will further His Kingdom purposes.
This may be a time when you start mentoring young moms. Maybe a ministry in your church or community has captured your interest. Now would be a great time to check that out.
And having a trusted person to help you figure this out is also a good thing. Because sometimes others can see things in us that we can’t see ourselves.
While I don’t claim to know everything, I know God has a calling for each of us. He is not trying to hide it from us. I think the best thing you can do is to do something and ask God to show you along the way if your course needs to be changed.
So will you join me in living out our callings?