It's funny how we can feel like just because someone else gets something, it means we can't have it too. It doesn't matter our age, this rings true for us.
My daughter Karis is almost 7 and the most competitive person I know. She isn't a kid we have to push, she's a kid we have to pull back. Her intensity is the most beautiful and most challenging part about parenting her. She loves to win, and feels like she needs to win. So often I have to tell her, "Karis, just have fun! Just enjoy it. This isn't a race or a competition or game. Just have fun." She gets so mad when I say this because all of life is a competition to her.
I get it too, I'm the same way. She is her mother's daughter that is for sure.
I've had this blog post title in draft form since this past spring because this has been a lesson I've had to fight hard to believe. And if I'm being honest, something I am fighting and will have to keep fighting to believe.
Everywhere we turn we are told we don't measure up. The magazines in the Target check out line tell us we aren't fit or stylish enough. Our social media feeds tell us we have no lives and no friends. The only real mail we get these days are pictures of everyone's happy families at Christmas or babies being born, which doesn't match the image of our lives. We see the likes, comments and following of someone else and ours don't compare. We see the promotions, raises and success and we fall one more step behind.
We are constantly being told we don't measure up. We've already failed.
There's nothing like the book writing process to make you deal with your own heart. It's probably the thing I will forever be the most grateful for when looking back at this first proposal process years from now. Regardless of how things end up or with which publisher I end up partnering with, I'm grateful for what God has already done in my own heart.
It's becoming quite comical how many pieces of my book I'm being forced to keep testing out if I believe they are true. It's been my constant prayer that this book is actually helpful. I keep thinking of all the circumstances in the lives of those that will read it and what you all have going on. I want this book to help you, not go unfinished like so many other books we had great hopes for helping us.
One of the steps to the book writing process is to list out your possible endorsers, your social media following, etc,... basically anything that makes you seem awesome. Understandably so because while these publishing houses are Christian, they still need to keep the lights on and pay their people. So they need to make sure that your words aren't just great, but they will actually sell. This wasn't as hard as I thought it would be but only for one reason: It's like when Peter stepped out onto the water knowing who he was but confident and walking on water because he knew who Jesus was.
Not only do you have to write about your scope of influence but then you have to narrow down to the top 5 biggest books that would compete against yours. I'll tell you what, this part was even harder. This is like when Peter started to notice the waves.
I wanted nothing more than to climb back into my safe, comfortable and dry boat.
I am pretty disciplined on social media to celebrate others in ministry and fight the insecure lies when the come up. There are season I have to unfollow certain people until my heart is in a better place (less competitive or insecure and more celebratory). I was fine until I had to do this part of things-- I had to really known my "competitors" (which feels wrong to call, what I consider partners in the gospel" competitors but it is what it is).
So here I was pouring myself over these 5 biggest competitors. I learned about their books. Sought to find out how my book was unique from theirs. I studied their ministries and followers to see the parallels and differences. There were many times I thought,
"I can't. What I have to offer isn't unique enough."
Have you ever thought that?
You see 5, 10, 100, maybe even 1,000s of others doing the very thing you want to do, and you might even perceive that they are doing it better than you. So you render yourself a failure just because you've seen their success.
We have got to stop this. It's just not true.
One thing I learned in my days of public relations is that it can take the average consumer 8 times to hear a message before they even really listen or believe it. That's crazy, right?!
And it's most certainly not the gospel message at all to believe that there is only one person entrusted to do one thing-- God entrusts many.
This past Lent there was one day in our Lent study that got me so hard-- we were reading the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.
The master gave one servant 5, another 2, and another 1. The one with 5 turned it into 10, the one with 2 turned it into 4 and the one with 1 was afraid and hid it having only the 1 to show.
Woah. The one given the least did absolutely nothing only because he was afraid. The one with 5 turned it to 10, and was then given the one making it 11. We could get annoyed in our entitlement ridden society because "the rich get richer."
What we forget, or often overlook often in this story, is there was someone else-- the one who was given 2 and turned it into 4. And He was given the same affirmation as the one with 10:
"Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master."
Not a word of this response was different from the one the master gave the one with 10.
We forget this about our God.
We are so trained in our society, much like my daughter, that everything is a competition. That if we aren't winning we are losing. And it's just not the way of The Father.
That day I can't even tell you the work the Lord did in my life and in my heart. I was released from chains of comparison I had shackled around my ankles for so long. It wasn't until I did that day that I had the courage to write the book proposal.
I know that today I am the servant given 2. I know there are others that are given 5 today. I know that being a "good and faithful servant" today might mean that the best I can do is produce 4 with what I've been given today. I know that one day I might be given more, like the 4 that I had multiplied the 2 into. Then if I'm a "good and faithful servant" I'll have 8.
There might also be a day-- soon or in the far future when all I have left is just the 1. This might be where you find yourself today. It's easier to take some risks when you are holding more than 1 talent in your hand. Fear can cause us to hold on to things tighter than we should.
Today, what do you need to let go of or do something with
so God can bring about a return?
The goal isn't us getting richer, figuratively or literally. The talents are all the master's, the servants are just entrusted with it for a time.