Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Being Sure

By Amy Carroll

Doubt assailed me. I can be such a pessimist…for myself. (For everyone else, I’m a complete optimist!) As I dialed Lysa, our ministry’s president, I was having thoughts like, “She’ll tell me someone else has proposed this idea, and it’s been rejected. Or maybe she’ll like the idea but think I’m not the one to do the job.”

I was afraid to risk hope. In my article “Without a Net” featured in P31 Woman this month, I share about my journey of diving into a new idea from God while letting go of my backup plan.

It was scary to bring a proposal to Lysa that was outside my formal education and experience. To change careers and jump into the unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, I needed to be sure I was following God’s intent. This was a decision too big for impulsive action, so I began looking for some crucial signs and asking myself important questions.

First, I considered if my plan fit into God’s Word. For over 20 years, God has been teaching me that the Bible trumps every other influence in my life. I needed to make sure my job change wouldn’t violate the principles laid out in scripture in any way. “God, is it ok to help women convey Your message more effectively and engagingly?” I asked. Check!

The second hurdle was to watch for confirmation. The most important confirmation I received was from my husband Barry. He knows me better than anyone else on the planet and had watched my shift of focus and passion for over 10 years. I needed him to believe in me, and as the spiritual leader of our home, to have faith I was taking the right path. This job shift would also change our family’s financial status for a time, so it was crucial he be on board. His enthusiasm and support for my new project is my lifeline for long-term, through-the-hard-times success.

Lysa’s confirmation in that phone call and eventual approval of a new branch for Proverbs 31 Ministries not only fueled my fire but increased my confidence that I was within God’s will.

God has made it abundantly clear He uses my friends and mentors to confirm or warn when I’m making big decisions. I knew and trusted that Lysa would be listening for God’s direction even as she poured over my business plan. Her enthusiasm for my new project strengthened me on my journey to being sure.

Also, a little miracle happened during my conversation with Lysa. One of my greatest concerns was the lack of a steady paycheck during the time that Next Step Speaker Services was built. Lysa was concerned about that too and offered me a part-time job doing some projects for her. It was yet another sweet confirmation and an unexpected “hug” from God to loosen the grip of my anxieties.

The final question was, “Are you prepared to do the hard work?” While it’s true God ultimately accomplishes His purposes in ways far beyond what we can ask or imagine, we have a part in His plans. Reading the book of Nehemiah, I discovered how one of God’s servants accomplished a huge task. I came away with a deep appreciation for my part of success—organization, communication, energy, delegation and hard, hard work. Scripture actually says that Nehemiah and the Israelites, “…continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.” (Nehemiah 4:21 NIV) The good news is my new work is so exhilarating that I bounce out of bed every morning excited to start!

The final outcome from receiving confirmations and answering my important questions was that I was sure it was time to leave my own backup plan behind and leap into God’s new purpose for me.

Now, whenever doubts start to twirl through my brain like, “What are you doing? You haven’t replaced your salary yet!” I can remember the steps I’ve gone through to get here and banish those thoughts with, “I’m doing what God has planned for me, and He’s got it all under control.”

Amy Carroll is the blissful director of Proverb 31 Ministries’ new Next Step Speaker Services and a member of the ministry’s speaker team. She lives in North Carolina with her three favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. You can find Amy on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book or trying to figure out an alternative to cooking dinner. Visit Amy at www.amycarroll.org and find out more about the new speaker service at www.nextstepspeakerservices.org.