I was happy for her. I really was.
But I have to admit that my first reaction was a gulp. And a sigh. And a twinge of jealousy.
I’ve been working hard! Why does she have a TV show and I don’t? Now, granted, I’m not even sure I would WANT a TV show, and I certainly haven’t been pursuing getting one, but that experience is quite common: when we are trying to grow our ministries, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others who are doing something similar. And each time they succeed, it makes us feel that little bit more like failures.
The interesting thing is that we may even have succeeded in a key area–maybe we’re getting more bookings! But we hear someone who was just on the radio, and we think, “why aren’t I on the radio?” Suddenly our successes, even if we were happy about them, pale, because we’re looking at someone else.
I’m starting up my speaking training again, after a bit of a hiatus, and I thought one of the better places to begin was with this:
God has a plan for you. He has work that He has specifically prepared for you to do (Eph. 2:10). He has people that He has specifically put in your path because it is you He has designed to reach them.
God DOES have a plan for you.
So what is your role in all of this?
Listen to God. Be faithful with the gifts and blessings He has given you. If He’s given you money, invest in ministry. If He’s given you gifts, use them wisely. Don’t hide them. Be available. Serve Him.
But never, ever think that He is demanding a certain level of success from you. He is not angry if you haven’t progressed. He is not thinking “she shouldn’t be doing this.” He is happy when we try to spread His word!
That doesn’t mean He may not one day push you in a different direction. And some of us may only speak for a short period of our lives. But in God’s timing that is never wasted. He is using it.
Our focus, then, should always be on God and listening to Him, not on trying to attain some measure of success.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t aim to become more professional, or try to seek out better bookings. That’s part of being faithful with the gifts that He has given you. How will people hire us if we don’t get the word out? So, yes, we need to be learning about marketing and about being professional.
But there is no level of success that God says we must have in order to serve Him. And there is no level of success that says, “you have arrived. You’ve done good!” When we think there is, we’re measuring success in the world’s terms, and not in God’s terms.
I know it’s hard not to become jealous when other speakers seem to succeed so much more, and when other people get a ton of bookings and you just don’t. But that’s the time to go back to God and say, “is there something that you want me to learn in order to be a more effective speaker? Are there more risks you want me to take for you?” And if the answer is no, you’re perfectly okay.
There will ALWAYS be people who are more successful than us. Think of the most successful speaker you know: I am almost positive that she has a list a mile long of the things she should be doing to grow her influence and ministry, too. There’s always more we could be doing, and there always will be, until Christ returns. Until everybody has heard the message, and until everybody is completely transformed to look like Christ (Romans 8:29), there will always be more to do.
Think about it this way: Peter is so much better known than his brother Andrew. And yet if you read the Scriptures, you’ll find something interesting. The only times that Andrew is mentioned, he is bringing people to Jesus. That’s all he’s known for.
His ministry didn’t go down in history to the same extent that Peter’s did. Andrew didn’t preach on Pentecost and see 3000 saved; Peter did. But Andrew is still remembered today for bringing people to Jesus.
Lord, may that be true of us, too.
If you’re struggling with your calling, my keynote address “The Adventure and Purpose of Speaking and Writing” talks about the loneliness we sometimes feel, and how to wrestle through what God wants you to do.