What do you do when everyone seems to be doing what God told you to do?
I’ve experienced this feeling several times in my creative life. Right now, I’m working on a study of women in the bible. I’ve spent months planning the content and the design. I’ve researched and outlined. I started the first draft and love it.
But a couple days ago, a woman I follow online released her new study of women in the bible. This study looks like a women’s magazine. It features breathtaking photography and feminine typography. The moment I saw it, it discouraged me.
Then I did an Amazon search to see if any other books had a similar title to mine. To my horror, a very popular Christian writer has a book with an almost identical title and uses many of the same women’s stories as I am using.
Fear settled in my spirit. What if people think I copied what they’ve done when my study releases? What if we focused on the same women and made the same points? My study isn’t going to be as beautiful as hers, nor as theological and hermeneutics heavy as the popular writer’s book. I don’t have as big a following as they do. Who’s going to buy my study? I should scrap it and do something different, something unique.
No one wants to be seen as a copycat or bandwagon rider. Besides, if someone else is reaching hundreds of thousands of people, why should I add my voice to the mix? It’s not as if I have anything new to say.
A bit of resentment mixed in with the fear. I mean, God called me to write books for Him. I’ve worked hard on writing and publishing my books. I have to work hard to get eyes on my work, and even then the eyes are few and far between.
Many women all over the world are stepping back from doing what God is calling them to do because they think someone else is already doing it, and better. Someone else has more followers or gets more likes. Someone else gets more business or gets asked to speak more often. There’s already an app, organization, blog, or book for that. These women think to themselves “I don’t need to add my voice or opinion to the conversation. I can recommend what’s already out there instead of adding a drop of water to an ocean of material on this. God doesn’t need me to say or do this; others have got it.”
But the thing is, if God is leading you to do something, no matter how insignificant, futile, or foolish it makes you feel, then you should do it. You have no idea what God is going to accomplish through you when you take a step in faith.
The first time I spoke to someone I didn’t know about Jesus was in the bathroom of a movie theater. I could have ignored the girl at the sink next to me. I could have washed my hands and left. But God led me to say something. That little step led to a pivotal moment I never saw coming.
It’s like this with anything we do at God’s request. Many women have told me they needed to read my book when they read it. They tell me it changed their perception of relationships and has enhanced their walk with the Lord. Imagine if I assumed another Christian writer would reach them and didn’t publish my book. I may not reach as many women as someone else, but I might reach the one woman they can’t.
It can be hard to continue on when it seems everyone is already doing what you feel God wants you to do, but you must persevere, Sister. We have to know God made us a specific way to carry out a specific purpose, to address a specific need in the body of Christ. It can be more specific than we think. God knows what part of the vineyard He wants me to reap in. Or maybe like Ruth, I’m to go behind the reapers and glean what they’ve missed: the girl who isn’t a Christian but comes to a ladies day and is intrigued by my message, or the woman who thinks my blogs are funny and wants to read more of my work.
I don’t have the answers to all the questions that arise when trying to navigate callings, ministries, businesses, and books, but I do know the root of most of our concern is fear: fear of inadequacy, fear of being thought to be a copycat or fraud, and fear of failure. But God has not given us a spirit of fear. God is love and we know perfect love casts out fear. If God is telling you to do something, you do it.
There is nothing new under the sun. If you are writing, painting or creating anything based on the Word of God, I can guarantee you someone has already done it and someone else will do it after you. Someone is probably doing it better with more resources and a greater reach. Do it anyway. That’s what I’m going to do. I’ll keep writing books and blogs, keep speaking, keep helping other women tell their stories. I’m going to complete the mission God sent me on. I hope you decide to do the same.
Erica D. Hearns