Paving The Way To Success

It was a brilliant idea, really.  The old pastor/boss-man had suggested an appearance at the North Central District Conference.  It's a conference in my church's denomination where pastors get together to recharge and rejuvenate.  His idea:  I could exhibit my coaching business at the conference.  Pastors needed to know.  I had a great idea.  What could go wrong?  

I made the initial contacts and had been officially accepted as an exhibitor.  I'd have a table.  I had this schwanky banner made.  I had new business cards and brochures.  I used to work in the district.  The 300 + pastors would be flocking to my table. 

Somewhere between the brilliant idea and the start of the conference, I made some very large assumptions.  The if you build it they will come motto may have worked for baseball, but was another thing when it came to life coaching and ministry training. 

I was placed at the end of the hallway.  On the way to nothing - except backstage for the worship band.  And while I thought my display rocked it - including mini hershey bars wrapped in my logo, the pastors and the other church workers were not flocking to me.  

In fact, many would glance over, avert their eyes, and make a quick U-turn back toward to auditorium. 

My self proclaimed introversion reared it's ugly head and I wondered if I had been more "out there" if I could have made a go of it.  You know, popping in the way of traffic, quickly reading their name tag, stopping them mid-track with my business card and brochure.  I did a little of the name tag reading and introducing, but I wondered if my insecurity was keeping me from "big business". 

By the end of day one, I was tired.  I was cranky.  And I was failing.  As I cried and drove home that first night.  I wondered aloud, What have I gotten myself into?  You know regret.  I am not a sales person.  I'm an introvert who loves to teach.  Loves to write.  But hates to sell. 

It reminds of my childhood.  I sold girl scout cookies and oranges for band.  I should correct that.  My mom sold girl scout cookies and oranges.  Me - I tried to look cute - and won't you please pity me and buy an orange from me?   Yeah, it's not my strong suit. 

So, as I drove home, I began to wonder.  Had I heard God wrong?  Was I barking up the wrong tree?  How was I ever going to pave the way to success? 

Have you ever asked yourself this question?  Do you feel like failure is lurking in some area of your life?  Do you ever feel what God is asking of you is beyond your potential? 

Clearly, so have I.  Maybe it's not starting a business or two, but maybe you're questioning if you've got what it takes to parent the kiddos God's given you?  Maybe your job is overwhelming and you're wondering if it wouldn't be easier to jump ship?  Maybe it's a relationship that you feel way over your head to navigate?  Or a place of volunteering that you know you could never do but God keeps putting it on your heart? 

I know how you feel.  And you know what I'm learning.  I'm learning that paving the way to success means walking in the valley of failure.  Failure comes with success.  It's in learning what we didn't do well that we learn how to succeed.  And sometimes, what we call failure, God calls life experience.  Learning through trials.  Learning how we're gifted.  Learning to trust His plan. Learning to trust that He is big enough to handle the things that feel like failure but are just opportunities instead. 

True confession:  I didn't want to go back to the conference the next day.  I had a few leads, but nothing like what I imagined.  And I was tired.  But, out of obedience to God's calling on my life, I went anyway.  I went even though I felt like I was failing at this opportunity.  I went asking God to teach me what I needed to learn.  I went asking God to rejuvenate my passion enough that I would learn to do the things I'm not a natural at to follow His plan for me. 

I know what you're thinking.  The other 296 pastors came to my booth that day.  Nope.  I had a couple of people stop by.  One lady just for the mini Hershey's.  But here's what I did learn.  I'm not going to get where God is leading by stopping in my tracks every time something is hard.  God never promised me owning and running my own business would be easy.  It's HARD.  Go ahead and acknowledge it for yourself.  Whatever God is calling you to is hard.  

Yes, God will call us to hard.  But He will also walk right there with us through the hard.  He will teach us through our perceived failures.  He will be near when we fall flat on our face and he will reach down His hand to help us up again. 

Paving the way to success includes a one foot faith.  A faith that trusts God even when things don't go as we've planned.  A faith that gets back up even when it feels like we're failing.  A faith that chooses not to quit when it gets hard.  A faith that is willing to learn the hard way when the reward is knowing we've been obedient. 

I'd love to hear how you are learning from your opportunities and what God is teaching you as you pave the way to success!