Recently I watched a message by Joyce Meyer on TV. She talked about the many people who are waiting for God to “promote” them – to open the door to their destiny. This grabbed my attention immediately. Like so many of us, I’m waiting on a dream: the dream of one day being a published author. Perhaps Joyce had some key to share about how to reach our dreams more quickly and effectively?
I turned up the volume on the TV and leaned forward slightly. Joyce pointed her finger directly at the camera, and with great intensity in her voice, she said something to this effect: “You’d better pray that God doesn’t open that door for you until you have the character to walk through it.”
That line stuck with me. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. The truth of it, however, resonated with my spirit.
|Image by Nattavut, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net|
The blessing of the closed door
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past decade of my life banging on the closed door of publication and praying fervently for God to open it.
But am I truly ready for him to do that?
Could it be that during this waiting time, God has been protecting me from… myself? He intimately knows my weaknesses. He knows the strength of character I’ll need in order to walk through that door without self-destructing. And so, with infinite tenderness and mercy, he forces me to wait.
I’m reminded of Saul, a man promoted to kingship who lacked the character to fulfil the call on his life. His reign was characterized by jealousy, insecurity, fits of rage, and rash decisions. Reading his story is like watching a car careening out of control in slow motion. The wreck is inevitable. It’s easy for us to judge Saul – but let’s not forget: this man was called by God. Chosen. Gifted. Annointed to be king.
How many of us are called, gifted and anointed to write… and yet sabotage ourselves in the same way Saul did because we never develop the strength of character to match our gifting?
The boy who dreamed
The story of Joseph gives me hope. Like many of us, he too was a dreamer, called by God to a destiny beyond his ability to imagine. And yet, at the beginning of Joseph’s tale, we find a prideful young man who thought his dreams were all about him.
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Remember the way he boasted to his family about the dreams God had given him? Joseph thought he was pretty hot stuff. Through this attitude he demonstrated his unreadiness to step into the very destiny he was bragging about.
First, he had to be humbled and tested. Joseph needed to learn how to serve God with excellence and humility in the lowliest of positions: as a slave in a foreign land, and then a prisoner. He needed to do this even when no-one was watching and the world had seemingly forgotten his existence. He developed his character through suffering, obscurity, and endless years of waiting. And through this painful process, Joseph realised his dreams weren’t all about him. They were about what he could do to help and serve others.
When Joseph had learned this lesson – when his character finally measured up to his calling – it was then that God promoted him.
A call to character
Let’s be Josephs, not Sauls. In this in-between time of waiting on our dreams, let’s make a conscious choice to grow in character so we’re ready to step through the door of our destiny.
Here are some things to work on as we wait:
The world esteems people with gifts and talents, and it’s easy to get sucked into this mindset and let ourselves get a big head from our achievements or the flattery of others. But actually, we can’t take credit for our abilities. They’re a gift from God. We didn’t do anything to earn them. What we should esteem is character, because that’s something we have to work at to develop.
How we handle praise is a test. If we let it puff up our egos now in obscurity, how will we handle the praise of many? The pressure of notoriety? The Bible teaches that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Like Joseph, we won’t be promoted until we’ve learned the lesson of humility.
Paradoxically, this often goes hand-in-hand with pride. God doesn’t want us to be insecure any more than he wants us to be proud – one day up, the next day down, blown about by the winds of others’ opinions or the conflicting voices inside our own heads. He wants us to be humble and confident. Humble, because his gifts are undeserved. And confident, because He is a good God and has given us everything we need to succeed.
Saul suffered constantly from feelings of not being “good enough” to be king. He hid amongst the baggage at his own coronation ceremony. Because he was so insecure in himself, he felt threatened by anyone else who came along displaying any sort of ability or gifting. If only he had realised that his worth didn’t come from his title or his abilities as king. Our worth never comes from what we do. Our worth is inherent, because we’re children of God.
You can see already how this flows out of insecurity. It’s all too easy to compare ourselves to others on the publication journey – “She found an agent before me” or “He’s finalled in more contests.” Stop the comparison game. If we don’t nip this in the bud, later on we’ll be comparing publishing houses, advance sizes, marketing budgets, copies sold, and number of contracts. The jealousy battle won’t stop once you’re published – the stakes will just get higher, the comparisons more marked.
Likewise, this won’t stop once you’re published. I’ve heard a successful author published in the CBA say, “This industry will chew you up and spit you out.” Another one says, “Rejection doesn’t stop once you’re published. It just hurts worse.”
Our joy and contentment can’t come from our circumstances, or life will be a roller-coaster ride of disappointments. We need to learn to be content where we are before God will promote us.
In the face of rejections, can you encourage yourself in the Lord? David did this in his darkest moments before he became king. And once he learned how to do that, everything turned around for him (1 Samuel 30:6). God responds to faith and thankfulness, not fear and ingratitude.
Lastly, develop the ability to abide in him. Make God the center and the compass of your life. If he’s not, you’ll be thrown off course the minute the first storm hits. Do you have what it takes to ride out the rough waters of the publishing industry? With God as your center, then yes, you do. Practice this when it’s easy, so you have the steady strength to stand firm when it’s hard.
|Image by Christian Meyn, |
courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
The chrysalis is a chamber of waiting. A place of transformation.
In the chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly, the caterpillar literally dissolves into slime. It has to die to itself in order to enter the next phase of its destiny.
What are you doing in the chrysalis to prepare your character so you’re ready to step into your destiny?
Karen Schravemade lives in Australia. When she's not chasing after two small boys or gazing at her brand-new baby girl, she spends her spare minutes daydreaming about the intricate lives of characters who don't actually exist. Find her on her website, on Twitter or getting creative over at her mummy blog.