“…comfort never leads to excellence. What it takes to become great at your craft is practice, but not just any kind of practice—the kind that hurts, that stretches and grows you.”
~ Jeff Goins, The Art of Work
As I sit here at my desk, I’m torn. I need to be working. After all, that’s what pays the bills. And the fact that I got commended the other by the team leader for exhibiting good leadership behaviors doesn’t help. That not But a story is stirring within me and I think maybe I should put my work aside for a while to let my heart spill forth. This is the hard part. It would be so much easier to get back to the work at hand—drawing house plans. I’ve been a residential designer for almost thirty years and know what to do when I sit down to work.
• Design a house that the client wants within their desired square footage
• Dimension and note the floor plan and add all of the door and window sizes
• Draw all four sides of the exterior of the house
• Send to client for approval
I don’t know how many times I’ve gone through this process, but it’s enough that it comes as second nature. Unfortunately, that’s not how writing works for me. I’ve never been gifted with the ability to pour forth perfect prose without stressing over it for hours or even days. So why do I do it?
Over four years ago I felt God leading me to write. I had no idea why, and sometimes the question still begs an answer, but I was obedient. God began opening doors that I never knew were there.
After a friend mentioned twice in one conversation that I should write a book, I confessed to her that I had felt God calling me to write, but had no idea where to start. She excitedly reminded me of a speaker who’d come to our church several years earlier, Vonda Skelton, and suggested I contact her through Facebook. I did and had a response from Vonda that same afternoon, inviting me to check out her local writers critique group.
Wow. God didn’t waste time opening that door.
I began attending each month and tried my hand at writing. The critique they gave me was much kinder than I’m sure I deserved, but they were also faithful to show me little ways I could improve my writing. These little ways added up and my writing did improve greatly. The love and encouragement that emanated from that sweet group gave me the courage to continue.
That next spring I attended a large writers’ conference, having no idea why I’d spent so much money to attend something I knew nothing about. I felt like a lost child and almost went home within an hour of getting there. It was the first conference I’d gone to by myself and I was questioning my sanity. Was this really God’s will for me?
But just as they’d done in my small writers’ group, the people at this conference introduced me to a whole new world I never knew existed; one where professional writers, editors, publishers and teachers willingly helped me learn the ropes of this mind-boggling industry. There wasn’t a sense of competition or hiding professional secrets. They were all there to help launch, teach and lead writers. I’d never experienced anything like it and gained enough courage to start a blog, enter contests and submit articles.
My second year at that conference God confirmed I was headed the right direction by having one of my devotions win third place in their contest. The next year my devotion won first place and my blog won second. I was reeling from the fact that someone of a professional stature thought my work was good enough for an award.
Shortly after returning home from last year’s conference, I received a call from an editor of Guideposts magazine wanting to publish (and pay me for) an article I’d submitted. I was overwhelmed; hardly able to believe a portion of my story was going to become part of a magazine I’d loved since I was a teen.
God keeps stretching me and confirmations keep coming.
Just last month I received an e-mail from another editor from Guideposts asking if I’d like to submit an idea for a blog post to be featured in their online site. I did and, amazingly, it was published last week.
I don’t say any of this to brag, but to let you know how faithful God is. He took my small step of obedience and even smaller seed of faith and brought confirmation from places I never expected. He surrounded me with new and precious writer friends who struggle with the same questions and lack of confidence I do. They lift me up and I’m privileged to do the same for them.
A couple of years ago I was frustrated because I felt the learning curve was too steep for me to conquer.
“I just want to draw houses. I know how to do that,” I complained to Vonda.”This is too hard. I’ll never get it!”
She wisely reminded me that I once didn’t know how to draw houses, either. But with practice and persistence it became easier for me.
She was right, of course. Nobody is born with a skill. It takes practice, and usually lots of it, to become good at anything.
If you feel God is leading you into an unknown territory, ask Him to bring you a mentor. As much as we hate to ask others for help, God knows we need someone to walk that unfamiliar path with us. There’s probably someone closer than you think who can open doors into a whole new world He’d like to introduce you to. Step out in faith. Remember, comfort never leads to excellence. And you’ll probably gain lots of new friends along the way!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to that story.
Has God ever called you into an unknown territory? I’d love to hear how He’s provided for you when you stepped out in faith.