You know what piece of advice I wished someone would have told me? Stop waiting for approval or permission to follow your calling. I’m not talking about approval or permission from God because that calling you feel is from God. I’m talking about seeking approval from others.
While wise counsel is always a good thing, I’ve learned to take each piece of advice with a grain of salt, but I would also add that I wish I would haven’t included so many people in my decision process because honestly I was actually seeking the approval from others. Those lines between counsel and approval became blurred as I was getting so many different people’s views and opinions.
For example, while I was in my last year of college, I started looking at opportunities and jobs on the mission field. So I started asking people their opinions and thoughts and counsel, and I reached out to a deacon at my church at the time about his experience on the mission and field. He advised me not to move overseas to become a missionary long term (which was my goal at the time) because I needed to stay home under my father’s roof to learn “wife and mother skills.”
Yeah. I didn’t follow his advice because that was just not going to work for me, and God actually closed the doors to move overseas though I tried very hard to make those opportunities happen. God kept me in East Tennessee after I graduated college, and I became a middle school Latin teacher for 3 years.
Then a year after I finished college, I knew God was asking me to walk into foster care as my mission field. I knew I was totally unqualified and naive, but I knew without a doubt that God was leading me into this world. I tried to be very careful about who I allowed to speak into my life while I prepared to be a foster parent, but I had people give their unsolicited opinions.
I was informed that I would be doomed to singleness forever. I was told I was too young. I was advised to wait till it was more convenient. I was repeatedly reminded that it would be so hard.
You know what? Most of those concerns and comments held some truth to it. I might be single forever. I was incredibly young. It was super inconvenient. It was beyond hard.
But then MY PEOPLE, who knew my heart, were incredibly supportive. They encouraged me and empowered me and spoke life into me every step of the way.
God’s will for your life doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else but you. God’s will doesn’t even have to make sense to you, but confidence in God “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 ESV),” is powerful.
I think of the stories of Jesus’s ministry, and I love the story of the little boy who offered his 5 loaves and 2 fishes to Jesus to feed the 5,000+ people (John 6:5-15). I felt like that little boy – too young and very little to offer, but Jesus didn’t need anymore than that. He didn’t even need the offering of 5 loaves and 2 fishes to feed those people. Jesus could have spoke a feast into existence for the multitude of people, but He used that little boy and his meager offering in a way no one could have seen coming. Jesus did the same with me.
He took my 1 step of obedience in saying, “yes,” and He multiplied my yes by 5. Now I’m honored with the privilege and responsibility of raising my 5 incredible little girls. I still feel inadequate, but my confidence is not my ability. One of my favorite quotes is by Matt Chandler, “God is awesome. He doesn’t need you to be awesome; He needs you to be obedient.”
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ” Philippians 1:6 (ESV)
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