Fear

What If Failure Wasn’t an Option?

Today we have a guest post from Jennifer Slattery, author of Beyond I Do.

She asks a terrific question: what if failure wasn’t an option?


 

 

1649_1649_5

If you could do anything without fear of failure, what would that be?

Did one job or ministry jump to the surface? Okay, then, here’s a bigger question: What’s keeping you from pursuing that dream with everything you’ve got?

For most of us, the answer to that question lies within the one I first posed. Actually, the answer lies within three words of the question I first posed:

Fear of failure.

The fear of pouring ourselves into something for decades, maybe even a lifetime, with nothing to show for it.

It’s a very real possibility if we measure our success or failure based on worldly things like:

Income
Prestige
Stuff
Results

And yet, I believe God’s version of success goes much deeper. We look at the outside—what we can check off of a list or measure tangibly. God looks at what’s inside—how pliable and surrendered our heart is. Who we truly love, Who we truly serve.

Because when we get that right, everything else follows.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Colossians 3:23 NLT

Because His opinion is the only one that matters, and He is the only One who can bring our dreams and goals to fruition. More than that, He was the One that placed those dreams and goals in our heart in the first place.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.”

Philippians 2:13

In other words, as you draw near to God, He will reveal His will to you, stirring within you a desire to do that which He created you to do. As you respond with obedience, He grows you—your heart, your faith, your gifts, and your talents—to be the best writer, dancer, Bible teacher, mother, father, sister … possible.

Because we were made to do great things—things that will matter for all eternity.

Isn’t it time to get started? Failure isn’t an option, because if God is for us, who (or what) can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)


 

headshot2013 (1)Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here.
Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here.
You can also visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BeyondIDocover (1)Beyond I Do

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here.

How God Strengthened my Identity

God's been strengthening my identity

©CreationSwap/Dawn Lamper

 

I’ll admit it; I like to be the best.

Whether it’s beating my friends in a game, coming up with the top idea at a work meeting or winning an award, being the best at something—no matter how small—feeds a deep-seated belief in me.

It says, I am not Most People. 

Throughout my life I’ve striven to be better than Most People. Most People aren’t careful with their money. Most People aren’t diligent about spending regular time with God. Most People don’t bother to turn their ideas into a book. A lot of advice I hear sounds like, ‘most people do this, but you should do that’. And I do. I’ve become proud of it.

But that attitude has crippled my identity. Especially as a wannabe author.

For a long time I’ve equated being like Most People, to failure.  I shouldn’t be like Most People; I should be better than that. I know better, I try harder, I work smarter.

But keeping that (very arrogant) mindset while trying to become an author is … well, it’s soul-crushing. This industry is so hard to succeed in. Even if I become part of the tiny minority that scrapes some profit from a book, the percentage of authors who have a long-standing career is even tinier. Looking at this big, scary industry, I’m overwhelmed with the fear that I will turn out to be Most People after all.

That fear has driven me to write more, learn faster and stress repeatedly. Failure is not an option, but if you judge a writing career by my (ridiculously high) standards, it’s not only possible, but probable. And if my identity as a successful person, a person who’s better than Most People, is tied to my writing career, then my own dream is a massive threat to my identity.

This is something God’s been working on in my heart ever since I decided to start seriously working on my first book, at the start of 2013. I’ve blogged about it throughout the year. Every time I investigated what it takes to get published or ways to promote my work, I’d feel panicked. Every time I tried an idea and it didn’t pan out, the pressure increased.

God repeatedly told me that success is not measured by numbers, but by obedience. And I could acknowledge those truths in my head, but my heart usually just muttered something under its breath and sulked off.

But lately, I’m starting to notice change in myself. The more I consider the idea of self-publishing (not that I’ve decided anything yet), the more I’m okay with not having my name plastered across every Christian bookstore. If God doesn’t plan for me to make money from my writing, that’s alright. If my career is short-lived, that sucks, but it’s okay as long as it’s part of His plan.

Now the pressure to crack the secret of book marketing is decreasing all the time. And thank goodness for that, because it was getting heavy. I want to simply try my best, be obedient, work hard, and then watch my career go in the direction God wants it to go … whatever direction that is. If He plans for me to reach 50,000 people, that’s what will happen. If it’s 500 people, that’s also what will happen. Neither option makes me a better or worse person.

All that matters is my obedience.

 

Someone’s Breaking Into My Room: A Journey of Faith Part I

What did Jesus mean when he said, 'Have faith'?

Image by Laura V, sourced from CreationSwap.com.

“Jess, I need you to wake up really fast. Someone’s trying to break into my room.”

Those were my sister’s words at 1am Saturday. I went from being in a deep sleep to on my feet and moving in about one second flat.

Everything was quiet in the house I share with my sister and my best friend. Everything except the rattling of the glass sliding door in Bek’s room.

I jumped out of my bed, ran to my phone on the dining table and began dialing the police. My sister stood outside her bedroom door, a weapon she’d quickly grabbed in her hand, listening to the door violently rattle. It was definitely the sound of someone trying to get in.

By this point I’d only been awake for less than a minute, but I’d already planned that if the bad guys got in, I’d run out another door and go screaming down the street trying to wake up as many people as possible.

“Make a noise! Let them know we’re awake and ringing the cops!” I said to my sister.

Just after I finished speaking, the front door started shaking. We have a good deadbolt on it, but I ran over anyway to double check that it was locked. My phone was still in my hand, I was still trying to dial the right number for the cops.

Let me pause there.

Can you feel the adrenaline spiking through our systems? Can you imagine how scared we were?

Take that emotion, multiply it by ten and you’ve probably got what the disciples were feeling during this experience, recorded in the Bible:

 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out.  As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Luke 8:22-25 NIV

“Where is your faith?” Are you kidding? At 1am Saturday, I didn’t roll over and go back to sleep trusting that God would get rid of the baddies. Plenty of Christians have been attacked, mugged, raped or killed. Their ‘faith’ didn’t save them. I would have been squealing right along with the disciples!

But Jesus’ question got me thinking. What did he mean by ‘faith’?

Even though at the end of the story Jesus calmed the storm and saved their lives, I don’t think he expected them to believe that God would definitely save them.

Yes, in this instance he made the problem go away. But a few decades later, most of the disciples were executed in a variety of gruesome ways. And at that point in their lives, they did have faith. Yet God chose not to save them.

So what does it mean, then? To have faith? What does Jesus expect of us?

And furthermore, how does ‘faith’ affect our life decisions, our stress levels and our prayer lives?

It’s something I’m going to investigate through a multi-part series over the next few weeks. This is also the topic I’m probably going to speak on when I do my first ever talk at church in July.

I’d love to incorporate people’s insights, questions and thoughts as we go on this journey together. Join the conversation in the comments below!

And curious about what happened after I checked the lock on my door?

You’ll have to stick around to find out.

 

 

Enjoy this article? Hit the ‘follow by email’ button on the right sidebar and you’ll get every post delivered straight to your inbox.

If occasional updates are more convenient, sign up for my newsletter! You’ll get an exclusive sneak peak at my novel-in-progress, All I Am. 

Freedom in Identity

Who am I?

Photo by Demi Brooke, sourced from everystockphoto.com under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Photo by Demi Brooke, sourced from everystockphoto.com under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

It’s something we’re supposed to figure out in our twenties, but in my case it keeps changing.

This time last year I was a journalist, I had just finished my third trip overseas and I was surrounded by terrific friends that I’d grown up with. I was also about to embark on a new adventure in a larger town. Pretty exciting.

Fast forward twelve months. Some awesome things have happened; I’ve written a book, started this blog, worked in a completely new job, met different people and settled into my new home.

But at the same time, at the moment it looks like my journalism career could be over. My book is still a long way from being published, and this is a fairly new blog so I don’t have thousands of readers hanging off my every word. And tonight (New Year’s Eve) all my friends are busy or out of town. So I’m just planning to pick up some of my favourite food on the way home and spend the night on the couch with two of my favourite men, Hamish and Andy. (To my international readers, they are Australian comedians – and some of the funniest guys ever.)

Suddenly I don’t sound quite so awesome.

Look ahead another twelve months. Things could go either way. I could land a journo job, get a publishing contract, and have a full social calendar. Or I could not.

But the thing is… none of these circumstances are in my control.

So why should they affect my identity? Short answer: they shouldn’t.

It’s something I’ve known for a long time, but every now and then I need to remind myself. My identity is in God. I belong to Him. Nothing more, nothing less. I can’t get depressed or puffed up about my position in life, because I know that it can all change. And there’s freedom in that.

If my identity isn’t found in my career, writing or friends, then I’m not afraid to change jobs, move towns, and start working from the bottom up on my writing. I’m not restricted.

So before I look ahead to 2014 and completely freak out that I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m not where I thought I would be, I can stop and take a breath. It’s okay. I’m valuable to God either way.

The Israelites didn’t know what would happen when they left Egypt, and they had several pretty big freak-outs. But God always came through. They only ever came unstuck when they refused to trust Him.

So I now have a reminder stuck up on the wall next to my bed. It’s in the form of a question.

“What’s the point of trust and faith if I never use it?”