What to do when what you know to do isn’t working for you

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Teachers teach.

Encouragers encourage.

Ministers’ minister.

Leaders lead.

But what do you, when what you do doesn’t work for you?

If you’ve never been at that place, trust me…it can be best described as confusing, frustrating and even emotionally debilitating. How in the world can you do a great work in the lives of other people but those same results seem to be elusive for you?

Again…what do you, when what you do, doesn’t work for you?

Maybe you know you have been called to help people in the area of their finances. For years you did the work in your own finances and you were able to sustain a level of success and now you are helping others in that same area. But what happens when you go through a season where the same advice that is liberating others financially no longer seems to be working for you?

What about a preacher of the Gospel who God uses to speak life into people on a daily basis. What does that preacher do when it seems like the message God gives him/her resonates so strongly in the lives of others but seems to fall flat in his or her own life?

Think about the doctor whose remedies and procedures have helped others so profoundly, but that doctor (or that doctor’s family member) continues to struggle with a health issue they just can’t seem to shake?
What do you do, when what you do, doesn’t seem to work for you?

I know I have been there. I know intimately how it feels to encourage others to live abundantly, to soar, to embrace God’s plan for their lives and to see those people do that very thing! It is an amazing feeling to hear others share how the very work God has called you to, is actually working in their lives! But while I know that great joy, I also know how it feels to see that manifestation in the lives of others, while secretly wondering why the very thing that I am speaking to them, somehow just doesn’t seem to be working in my own life.

Maybe you know how that feels too. Maybe you have seen great results as a teacher with your troubled students but for some reason your own child continues to struggle. Or maybe you’ve seen God use your gift of song to deliver others but you can’t seem to shake free from your own burden. It is such a difficult place to be when it seems like your calling works for everyone else but you. Maybe you are a prayer warrior who sees God answer your prayers for others but He seems silent on the prayers you pray for yourself.

If you’ve ever experienced this it can leave you feeling like a fraud. How in the world can you speak life into others, teach others, encourage others, help to liberate others, but yet you are unable to do the same thing for yourself? Isn’t that the very definition of a fraud…or a hypocrite?

But the truth is, you aren’t being a fraud at all. You are being human…and there IS something you can do, when what you do doesn’t seem to be working for you.

But before I share that with you, let’s be clear. If you are going to teach others in a specific area, you need to have experienced some measure of success in that area. In other words, it would be difficult for me to teach you how to earn a million dollars if I’ve never earned a significant amount of money in my lifetime. It is unwise to try to teach, lead, speak on an area that we haven’t been tried and tested. But…there comes a time in your life, where it seems like you’ve hit a brick wall and you aren’t experiencing what others are experiencing through you. So what do you do?

#1. Tell yourself the truth!
It’s time for you to have a “come to Jesus meeting” with yourself. I recently read a quote by Virginia Wolfe that said “you can’t tell the truth about someone else if you haven’t told the truth about yourself”. Almost a year ago I wrote a blog and reminded you all that if you are going to be purposeful and powerful you can not bury your head in the sand. This is the same premise. You must tell yourself the truth. Do not live in denial. Be honest with yourself about what is not working in your life. Once you are able to be completely honest, you will then be able to make the necessary adjustments. The truth really does set you free.

#2. Don’t try and eat your own fruit!
We live in a world that celebrates independence and self-sufficiency. I am personally guilty of being at times rigid about handling “life” on my own. Despite all the support and love that I have around me, it is very easy for me to fall into the “me, myself and I” syndrome. But the truth is that I can’t eat of my own fruit. I am passionate about encouraging women and couples to live the life God has called them to live. I am fortunate enough to be able to walk out my purpose through speaking and writing. But those avenues are often my way of pouring into others, but God uses the speaking and writing of other people to pour into me. In 1 Peter (chapter 4) we are encouraged to “….Use your gifts well to serve one another.” In other words, your strengths, gifts, calling are not for you. They are there to be a blessing to others. And as you bless others, in return God will place people in your life to bless you.

#3. Take a chill pill!
If you can get past the terminology I used from the 80’s, I am sure you get the point! You need to chill-out! Many times we push ourselves to the point of burn-out. We are seeking some indication that “we’ve made it” without realizing even if we hit the target, it will very quickly move again. We go from project to project, seminar to seminar, client to client, church service to church service, with very little down time. If you are starting to feel like the very thing you are called to do, doesn’t work for you, that may be an indication that you need to hit the pause button. In one of my favorite books, “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus,, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done“ the author teaches that in the Jewish culture there is what is known as the “Shabbat” which is the Jewish Sabbath. Observant Jews consider the Shabbat as their rest day once a week. During this time they shut-down from all work, no travel, no computers, no phones, no TV, no twitter or Facebook. They use that time to pause and be present and see life as it is. I think that all of us can learn from that. We may not do it weekly, but we should take time to shut down from the rat race and be still (and quiet) long enough to hear God speak.

#4. Don’t be afraid to reassess!
Speaking of hearing God’s voice…many times we need to create a space in our lives to hear if God is giving us different or new instructions. This can be difficult because re-assessing may mean a major shift. And many times when you’ve invested so much in one area, it seems foolish to move in another direction. Think about it. When you have invested time, money and sweat equity in one area, but you are sensing it is time to move into another area that can feel scary. But the truth of the matter is that you don’t want to be anywhere that God isn’t. If you have lost traction in one area of your life, maybe it is because God wants to redirect you somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to reassess where you are to be clear that you are where He wants you to be.

#5. Remember who you really are!
One day I called a girlfriend and told her that I was having an emergency. Of course she quickly became concerned and asked me to tell her what was going on. I explained to her that I was losing it because I had no clue about what I was supposed to be doing in that particular season of my life. I was surprised when she actually started laughing and said “wait! Did the purpose coach just call me and tell me she didn’t know what her purpose was?”. She then went on to remind me of the season God had me in, the many roles I was playing and pushed me to look at myself beyond what I do for a living. Her ability to make me laugh and at the same time remind me of who I really am was so helpful!
Many times we get so caught up in our professional titles that we forget that we are so much more than what we do. But when your work is more than a paycheck…when what you do is truly a calling, it can be difficult to separate…but you must separate. Whether you are a teacher, a preacher, or a lawyer…who you are is so much more than what you do. And in those seasons when what you do, isn’t working for you, it may mean that you need to remember who you really are…beyond the title that you have been given.
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If you are feeling stagnant or feeling as though the very work you do for others isn’t working in your life, consider employing these 5 steps in order to experience a fresh perspective and strength for your journey. Now it’s your turn. Have you ever experienced this dilemma? If so, what steps would you add?

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