5 Tips for When You are Discouraged in Your Calling
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
(Note: Last weekend I was privileged to be part of an incredible “reNEW – retreat for New England Writing” but I know that after the high of community, worship and inspiration, many can find ourselves back at home staring at the wall. If you are discouraged about your life in any way — not just writing– perhaps these tips can be tailored to your own situation. I’m praying for all of you who read this blog.)
You got excited. Inspired to write. Motivated to minister. Challenged to pursue dreams.
And, for a while there – surrounded by kindred spirits cheering you on – you could almost taste the success. A book published. A conference keynote scheduled. A popular blog.
But now. Now you live in reality. Of words that won’t come. At least not in the right order. Of emails that say your social media numbers aren’t high enough. Of family and friends who still treat your holy calling as a mere hobby.
Today discouragement is your new companion.
What’s a writer to do? (feel free to tailor these tips to your own unique calling)
- Reflect and Review. Ask yourself the hard questions: Why am I writing? What is my unique message? When and how did I confirm God’s calling to share my story? Who are those who have encouraged and challenged me to do this – and what did they say? What scripture has spoken directly to me as I have sought to pursue writing and speaking? Which biblical character do I most identify with on this journey and what can I learn from them? Then take it all to your heavenly Father in prayer. Pray with surrender and supplication for guidance and provision. Be quiet and ask for peace deep in your soul over all things in the publishing industry which are causing fear, hesitation or confusion. God will meet you where you are. Open your hands. To both release and to receive.
- Plan Strategically. What is your first step? An outline? A strategic blog? Chances are you have already begun to write and even gotten quite far along this path so far (submission to potential agents or editors, etc.) Still, it helps to write down the steps necessary to reach your goal. In doing so, you may just be reminded of something or someone you neglected to contact. Perhaps that writers conference workshop recording you haven’t listened to yet. Set realistic goals for each week of this fall and do your best to reach them.
- Reach Out. No matter how engaged you are with readers (or potential readers and audience) you could always use more “friends and followers” right? This is just part of how our world operates today. It won’t help to bemoan the process of platform building. Think of it this way – an opportunity to get your vitally important message out to hurting people who need to hear Good News! So yes, you are going to have to reach out and “invite” people to “like” you. Yes, you will need to spend time online (when, I suspect, you would far rather be writing) engaging with others in the field. Just do it.
- Gather. Writing is such a solitary profession that it is vital you make time to gather with others for learning, prayer and iron-sharpening-iron growth. Are you in a local writers’ group? Even if you can’t find someone geographically nearby, there are online groups. And I highly suggest making it a priority to attend a Writers Event every year if possible. There you will meet other like-minded creative souls just like you. They understand. They know what it takes and will encourage and pray for you.
- Do the Next Thing. I hope the first four tips haven’t come across as demands, but more of suggestions. As always, I am writing this blog to myself first. Reminders of what I already know after a lifetime of writing and speaking. And yes, a lifetime of occasional times of discouragement in both areas. Still, I cannot tell YOU what God is asking of you at this moment. He may be saying “lay it down” for a season. He may be “kicking you in the pants” and urging courage and risk. But I do believe that as you and I make all our concerns a matter of prayer, God will guide us to the next thing. Spend some time listening and you will know what your Next Thing is. Then, by faith and in obedience, do it. God will then give you another next thing…
“Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly.” 1 Chronicles 28.20
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.EncouragingWords.net
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