The question posed from my heart to the LORD’s: what do you want me to do with the rest of my life? Perhaps more specifically, is it time to end my ministry?
I decided to take some time off from my work to take a look at my current malaise, weariness and discouragement, to think and pray and listen. And I believe I stumbled upon something.
Somewhere along the way, I went from
a girl who wanted to help women in their pain because I had been a girl in pain who had needed help
a woman with a business and a need to find clients and sell courses in order to garner self-worth and prove to God, myself, and others that I am a hard-working, capable, hustling businessperson who can make her own darn money and earn her keep and her place in this world.
Without me realizing it, my self-worth had become intrinsically tied into how many clients I had and how many courses I was selling.
Now, I can hustle, don’t get me wrong. And I don’t shy away from hard work. I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was fifteen. And I went on to have a pretty good couple years, for which I’m super grateful. And I can even say that I’m proud of myself for what God and I created and for how hard I’ve worked.
But I didn’t notice that my self-worth was tied into numbers because the numbers were good and I therefore felt, well, good.
But our economy changed in 2020 and my business changed with it, despite working harder and pivoting and trying every new thing I could think of.
My self-worth has been taking a monthly beating for over a year and I just can’t take it anymore. Something has to change.
And I think it needs to be two things.
One, my self-worth can no longer be tied into the results of my work. Perhaps, I first thought, it could be tied into my efforts, but that can still leave me being jolted around day by day by my output (or lack thereof).
So instead, my worth needs to be tied into one thing and one thing alone: how God sees me and that I’m completely loved and that I have nothing to prove to any other person on this planet and never have and never will and it’s exhausting and keep your own yardstick to yourself because you can’t measure my life anymore.
So there’s that. That’s the internal work. And though I sound all grounded in that, trust me when I say I will probably be working on this for the rest of my life because one of my deepest woundings is caring way too much what others think of me. I’ve grown tremendously in this but I think it will always linger.
But the internal needs to lead to external shifts for anything to actually change.
And so, two, I’m going back to being just a girl who wants to help other hurting girls to feel better and to feel loved and to become more healed and whole.
Here’s the thing, I’m 50. That counts for something. I’ve been around the freaking block.
And I’ve been trying to walk with Jesus since I was 15. That too counts for something. I love him and I know he loves me.
And I’ve been through some hard things. OH.MY.LANDS. Rephrase: I’ve been through many emotionally and relationally brutal things.
But God. God brought me the comfort and healing and wisdom talked about in Scripture time and time and time again. And He brought all that to me SO THAT I could offer that same comfort and healing and wisdom to other women who are drowning in pain and need some hope and help.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
In my desperation to prove my worth (though at the time, I would not have named that as my motivation), I made some shifts in my business that made it more, umm, businessy.
Things like inundating my poor email list with what they call email sequences or funnels.
Things like webinars where we give you a few tips you can use but then we spend the last ten minutes trying to convince you to please buy our course.
Things like free Facebook group challenges where we try to build a case for why you need the thing we are trying to sell.
Things like spending too much money on stupid Facebook ads (as if Zuckerburg isn’t rich enough) trying to get people who don’t know who we are to learn who we are so they can buy our stuff.
(Yep, I’m spilling the tea. This is what all coaches and course creators are doing to try to get you to buy their course or sign on to work with them. For the record: these aren’t bad things. These are business things. But they’re just not me things, not anymore.)
I told a friend awhile back that probably 75% of my work is trying to get clients and sell courses. Which means I was only doing the good part, the part that I love, the part that I’m good at, the meaningful part – you know, the actually helping women part – about 25% of the time at best.
Enter covid and my numbers dropped but I still kept pounding the pavement and I have been EXHAUSTED and DISCOURAGED FOR A YEAR. Enter necessary changes.
Now, I’m still going to offer my courses. Because they’re good, because they came out of my pain and my healing and wisdom earned the hard way, because they have helped many women and they can keep helping many women. And they all can be found on my website (I’ll list them at the bottom just so you know what’s available to you, but not in a salesy way, just in a here’s what I’ve got sort of way). And I’m still going to be available if you want to set up a coaching call. And I’ll still moderate my Facebook groups. And I’ll still write some blog posts and send out some emails. And I’ll probably still hold webinars when there’s something I really want to share with you.
But I’m going to scale way back on how I try to get the word out about what I have to offer. Even if it means I make less money and my numbers go down (Gasp! But what about that arbitrary yardstick? How will you know if you’re good enough or have earned your keep?? Oh well. I’ll know I’m good enough because Jesus says I am and I don’t have to earn my keep because He’s done it for me.).
I’m just not a salesperson and I just can’t do this anymore and it makes me feel gross and inauthentic and keeps me hustling and exhausted and discouraged and off-purpose and wondering what so-and-so thinks about me and I’m just not going to do that anymore (even if it means people think I’m lazy…I’m not and God and I and my husband know that I’m not, and that’s all that really matters).
So that’s my current story. I’m here for you. I’d love to help you figure out your whatever. And if you have a friend who could use any of this that I’m trying to put out into the world, please let her know.
And I must remind you – because this is what I love to do – that you are seen and loved and that God will get you through your hard thing and that he will heal you and give you hope and you’re going to be okay.
When I was thinking of stopping altogether, I felt Jesus say to me, “You still have work to do. But you can stop trying so hard.” So that’s what I’m going to do.
Much, much love,
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Thank you for your honesty Elisabeth. I love the last line of your post especially. It brings tears to my eyes actually. “You still have work to do. But you can stop trying so hard.” What a relief to hear something like this. AMEN.
I have unsubscribed to 2 monthly groups this month. I just don’t have time to really get into much lately. I have a special needs teenager, and this past month I had a couple of health scares. I was questioning my faith. I am almost 60 and felt like I lost sight of Jesus. I too am just exhausted. I worry about my worth. I don’t “do anything” as far as ministry goes. I am a caregiver. And I know this is my primary job for the time being.
The yardsticks we beat ourselves up with are of our own making. I totally get the worry about what people think of me. UGH! And yet, most people are very focused on themselves and probably think about us way less than we think they do. At least I hope so!
I appreciate your stepping down on marketing, etc. I know people with online businesses have to do Some thing to get the word out. But yes, too often it seems that every email or free webinar winds up being a hook to buy something else.(not talking about you, but I have felt this about several communities I have been part of) I am weary of all of that too. I think about writing a blog (it would probably be about autism and related issues) but I feel like the market for blogs is already overstuffed. It’s hard to think anyone would even read it. Which ties into “I am worried because I don’t seem to be producing anything.” Everything you have shared in this post is SO relatable!!!
One thing I keep remembering, which I actually learned from a kind of new-agey type of website~ Our focus needs to be on serving others, whatever we are doing. This has to be the energy and intention behind what we do, otherwise it doesn’t last long. Yes we have to advertise, produce content etc but as you said it gets tiring when you feel you have to focus so much energy on that instead of your core teachings and what you want to say to help other people. It sounds to me like you are on the right track as you look at all of these things.
I really appreciate your honest sharing about all that you deal with in your life. You are an inspiration to me and you help encourage me to be more open and honest about mine! Your blog is refreshing and honest and you are helping a lot of people just by being so honest. Keep going <3 Love you Elisabeth!!
Thank you, Amy. What a kind, gracious and encouraging response.
Thank you, Elisabeth AND Amy. I can so relate to both of you. Elisabeth, you were there for me when I was going thru my second divorce. It was gut wrenching and horrible, as most divorces are really…but, I’m a preacher’s kid and I vowed to never get a divorce, and here I was getting my 2nd one. Anyway, you helped me more than you’ll ever know because we were going thru our divorces about the same time and it seemed like every post hit home with me in such a beautiful and amazing way. I really just love you.
And, Amy. I get you too. Especially this whole thing about worrying about what other people think, and feeling like I have to be working all the time and being productive every minute of the day, etc etc. And wondering what it is I’m really supposed to be doing. I’m 66 and struggling to know if and when to retire, what that will look like, and just wanting so badly to do something that will impact others more than working in an office like I’ve done my whole career. Then something will happen…one of my co-workers will come in my office and just need an ear..or a shoulder…and I’m there. And then I remember why I’m here. But it still seems like there should be something MORE for me to do. I also have a special needs “child”…who for years I thought may never be able to live on his own, go to college, get married, etc. And he has done ALL those things and more. So, God has been so good to me and my family. I just always feel the need to do more for Him.
Anyway, thank you both for your candor, and your openness. I feel like God sent y’all to me today because I needed to hear everything you both just said.
God bless you both. And have a beautiful Easter.
Thank you for your sweet words, Cathy.
Perfectly well said and I am proud of you for recognizing this in your ministry and in yourself and God has wonderful plans for you to help those women out there that need a kind heart and words to encourage her has she travels through her difficult time. Blessings on your new, yet continued journey and may it be as God wills it to be.