The discouragement in my friend’s voice cracked my heart as I listened. “I just want to speak and write,” she said. “And I don’t know how to make that happen.”
I’ve been there.
And I’ll bet you have too. Here’s the thing… My friend is incredible. She really is. I love reading every blog post she writes, and although I haven’t heard her speak yet, I already know she rocks the room. She’s a Jesus-loving girl who is incredibly smart and talented. She has a powerful message, and she’s dying to share it. Just like you, I’ll bet.
So what’s the problem?
I wish I could tell her. I want to give her a formula for how to create a breakthrough. If I had that formula, I’d give it to her and to you for free right this very minute.
But I don’t.
All I can tell you is that you’re not alone. I know waiting is hard because I’ve waited too. I’ve been passed over for the big event. I’ve received mailboxes full of rejection letters. I’ve felt the urge to do more and known I was capable of more, yet the doors stayed shut. It doesn’t feel good to wait, but there are some things that you should do while you wait. There are lots of things you don’t have control over to “make it happen”, but here are some areas you can control to make yourself ready when the doors start to swing open:
1. Make it all count. For years and years, I’ve written one blog post after another. I’ve written a devotion a month for almost a decade. While I was doing the work, I saw each one as completely separate and (truthfully)not as very valuable.
A friend who has published multiple books gave me great advice when I started writing my book (more info to come!). She told me to take my chapter descriptions and go through all my devotions, messages, and blog posts from the very beginning. “Mine those for your stories and teaching,” she wisely counseled. “Make a list of your past writing under each chapter title where it might belong. Before you start writing a chapter, see if there is content you’ve developed in the past that would fit in the chapter.”
Wowza! It was a revelation!! Re-reading all my past content made me see my journey. So much of it was related to my current book, and I could see how God has been teaching me and healing me.
Don’t make the same mistake I did for years. I didn’t think all those “little” investments of work mattered. All your work matters, so make it all count. (Click here to Tweet) Be purposeful. Be intentional. Be impactful.
2. Build relationships through service. There are so many ways to serve others. Write online book reviews for your favorite speakers and authors. Write a guest blog post for a blogging friend. Speak for free. Do the announcements or emcee an event. I listened to a webinar by Kathi Lipp last week where she advised interning for a local speaker to learn the “business” of ministry. Say “yes” as often as you possibly can.
We shouldn’t serve expecting to get something in return (Just like most people, I have a nose for that, and I don’t like it.), but people who we serve often want to help us when it’s our turn. For example, Kathi shared she often refers her interns when she’s unable to speak for an event. My friend who was the catalyst for this article is reading my manuscript and giving me enormously valuable feedback. I know she’s doing it because she loves me, but you’d better believe I’ll throw all my energy into helping her when it’s her turn. (And I guarantee it WILL be her turn some day!!)
3. Invest in your growth. This is the most important one. While you’re waiting, make sure you’re ready for opportunity. Read blogs. Read books. Practice every chance you get. Share your message for free. Invest in coaching opportunities like Next Step, Platform University, or Compel. Attend conferences like She Speaks or Allume.
Most importantly, invest in your spiritual growth. Be very, very careful not to spend so much time working in ministry that you forget Who it’s all for. Enjoy God by spending time alone with Him each day. Take a spiritual retreat. Do a study. Fellowship with friends who are growing too. Be ruthless with your own sin. Pursue a spiritual mentor. Do what it takes to grow, grow, grow! (While you’re pursuing God, you’ll fall so in love with Him that the waiting will be easier –not easy, just easier. Avoid Him and the wait will be excruciating and fruitless.)
I’m grateful for the years of spiritual formation before doors began to open. I’m thankful that each opportunity seems to follow my children needing me less. Although I wasn’t at the time, I’m glad I wrote all those devotions and blog posts that often felt like a waste of time. God’s timing is perfect, friends. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but He always has purpose in the wait.