Comparison is one of the biggest thieves of courage.
And in today’s culture, it is easier than ever for us to compare our lives, gifts and spiritual walk to someone else’s. When I sense God calling me to take a step of faith, I often get derailed when I look at another sister and think, “I’m not the person for this task. She could do this better than me.”
This happened a few years ago, when I received my first opportunity to speak at a writers’ conference. At first, the invitation thrilled me and I prepared my workshop with enthusiasm about what God would do. I wanted to encourage other writers to pursue their dreams and share the knowledge I’d gleaned in my own journey.
Then, I pulled up the list of faculty on the conference website and read some of the bios. Dozens of authors’ and experts’ faces appeared, each with decades of experience and long lists of accolades behind their names.
Suddenly, instead of being eager to share my gifts, I felt inadequate.
I was certain I was not the person the coordinator had in mind when she sent the email.
For the next couple of days, I thought of reasons not attend the conference. While I was able to come up with plenty of possibilities, I also knew backing out was not an option. God was asking me to take a step of courage, and in the end, it wasn’t about me.
I arrived at the conference center prepared. My slides were ready to go, and my talk was well rehearsed and timed. But I was still nervous. Fear of failure lurked in the back of my mind as I dined with the attendees and exchanged writing stories.
Even though the fear didn’t go away, I realized something. When I embraced my role as part of a body of believers instead of an individual fighting for her place, bravery came. I was brave because I saw each person around me as an integral part of Christ’s bride, working together to make her complete.
In Jesus’ final prayer before going to the cross, he prayed for unity. His desire was for his church to be one, just as he and his Father are one.
“ I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23 NIV
If I’m honest, I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked at someone else’s talents as a threat rather than a gift to complete Christ’s church and make him known. But because he’s a gracious, loving Father, he’s teaching me.
My courage grows each time I stand up, cheer for my sister, and realize we are not contestants fighting for a place at God’s table, but members of the same team.
We were never intended to do this thing called church alone. As we grow and learn to celebrate the uniqueness of each person God brings into our lives, our walk becomes more joyful. More courageous. More complete.
When I gave my presentation at the writers’ conference, I wasn’t perfect. There were plenty of areas for me to grow and improve, and I knew it. But despite my imperfections, my audience embraced me. They gave positive feedback and were thankful for the knowledge they gained. And as I looked back on the experience in the following weeks, I saw it: Christ’s church embodied in the form of men and women spurring each other forward, imperfections and all. What a gift.
If you need to shift your focus from a struggle or worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“As somebody who has spent the last year reading a variety of Christian living books, I can say that this is one of my top three books in the genre. Abby McDonald does something that many other authors do not. She digs deep.
While so many in this genre are “comfort Christian” books that remind us we are loved as we are, McDonald goes far past the surface as she explores her own life and how she has needed, time and again, to shift her focus and her thinking away from secular ideas and back to God.
I truly appreciate how we are not told that it is all easy and that her life is now perfect because she just shifted on over to Jesus and “poof!” everything was great again. McDonald reminds us that this is hard work, that we are human and that life is hard. She also helps us to refocus on fighting our fear by seeking our faith as a grounding platform on which to stand.
McDonald’s personal stories are woven throughout each chapter but once again she has a level of vulnerability in her sharing that many authors fail to have. This makes Shift far more compelling of a read; one that feels real and normal. One that is about being human.
If you enjoy Christian living books, this is one you should add to your personal library.” -Jen F.
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.