This is a guest post by the talented and generous Colleen Pastoor of Lemon Thistle. You may recognize her name as the one who donated her time and skill to make the lovely hand lettered scriptures for all new members. We asked her to write a guest post for A Little Light and she didn’t hold back. We just love every insightful nugget and notion that she shared in this great piece……
I am so thrilled to be sharing over here at A Little Light. I really love what Shawna and Rachel are creating so when they asked me to contribute a post, I couldn’t say no. Originally I thought I’d chat on some technical topic but after thinking on it, I want to talk about something so much more important- finding your ‘purpose’ and living your passions.
I love what I do, blogging and creating DIY, and really feel like it’s something that God’s gifted me with… but it has always felt a little selfish to me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been in this spot- you have a business, blog, or passion that is growing and you’re attracting attention, doing really well and you’re also a Christian… but where do they intersect? Maybe your blog or business is a direct profession of your faith- awesome. But maybe it’s not. And just because it’s not, doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time, right?
Most people complain about their jobs- it’s not normal to be excited about what you get to do to earn a living. And it’s not normal to devote all your free time to something other than an activity or Netflix. So when you’re staying up until 4 in the morning creating a new ‘About Me’ page, or you start neglecting your wardrobe to save for a new flash to get the perfect shot of a pie… your friends just can’t relate. It’s not that they don’t want to or that they’re not excited for you… but let’s be honest, we’re a little bit crazy if we decide to make a go of this online business thing.
So maybe you think of your blog as a hobby. That’s great- everyone has hobbies, hobbies can cost a little bit of money- it’s normal and everyone loves to devote their time to them. But then you reach a point where your free time isn’t enough time any more to do the things you want to. I know when I started to say no to coffee dates during nap time, choosing to sit by myself and edit photos of my shower curtain that I had a decision to make. Would this be a business and me call it ‘work’ or would it be a hobby and I let go of some of the dreams I had for it?
I’m forever thankful that the time has passed where we have to pick a future straight out of school and stick it out for all our working days. We live in a time where our opportunities are all but endless. We can choose to make our life what we want- we can take our business ideas online and connect with people all over the world who are passionate about the same crazy things that you are. But it can be kind of risky. By doing this, we take time away from our friends and families (or if you’re like me, your housekeeping), you risk an uncertain income, and you certainly risk failure.
So if you’re not a creative type, or you don’t have a passion like this- it seems crazy to take the risk, maybe even a little selfish. Because really, you could go to a job that you hate and be home every evening and weekend (or weekday if you work an evening job) and have nothing else on your mind to take away from you devoting time to your family. Why would you give up the certainty of supporting your family to pursue a passion? Although if you have kids, you know a ‘real job’ and paying for daycare isn’t a great fit sometimes either. And money aside, isn’t it a little bit presumptuous to think that you can write about the way you paint your nails and people will want to read about it? Or buy your design over someone else’s? Or subscribe to a newsletter so they can hear what you- a perfect stranger, have been doing this week? I can see why I get the looks I do when I tell people what I do for ‘work’.
And sometimes I question myself too. I see the criticism of ‘Pinterest moms’ that spend more time making their lives look pretty than actually living it. I have friends that roll their eyes when a mom throws an extravagant party for their kiddos. And I know it’s not just bloggers, but artists, photographers, musicians, and preachers that can be questioned with the same thing- is it your own selfish ambition or is it something you’re called to grow in?
But here’s the thing. We don’t all have the same purpose, the same passions, and the same gifts. God’s created us each uniquely. And maybe for some that’s full time ministry. Maybe for some that’s the 9-5. And maybe for some, that’s stepping out and writing for thousands of strangers about how you organize your home with checklists and binders and free printables. Now, I don’t think that anyone has the purpose to hate their job- there is purpose and passion for everyone in their work and home, it can just be a struggle to find it. But if you are lucky enough to have one of your passions intersect with a viable opportunity for income… why not take it? And if you have a gift or talent from God, it isn’t being humble to neglect it. 1 Tim 4:14 tells us not to neglect our gifts.
If you’re reading this, I’ll assume you’re on board with taking that risk- or you have taken that risk already. Awesome! But then you’re sitting in service on a Sunday and the preacher says (and every preacher says this, I’m sure), ‘the people in your work place need you, who else will tell them about Christ?’ or ‘God has given you a circle of influence, what will you choose to do with it?’. And you go… well, it’s just me in my PJs at my workplace… all the people I ‘work’ with are online. And if you’ve worked really hard to create a brand, and that brand isn’t specifically a ‘Christian brand’, having a call to salvation on your homepage isn’t usually a good fit. So what are you going to do with your circle of influence?
That’s really a question only you can answer, and if you’re struggling with that now, here’s what I’ve come to realize. Your ‘purpose’ isn’t always some tremendous call that is shouted down from the heavens with doves. That would make things a whole lot easier, though. And you can be carrying out some of the greatest ‘callings’ without living your purpose. What I mean by that is you can be doing amazing things in your church or business, but if you’re not living with a heart to give it to the Lord, then you could be missing the purpose. In 1 Cor 13, Paul writes about all these amazing things that we could do- even holy, magnificent callings BUT, ‘do not have love, I am nothing’. And isn’t that what our ultimate call as Christians is anyways? To love.
So I’d challenge you this. If you’re feeling selfish or uncertain or don’t see how your dream could be a ‘God Dream’ (because we’re all supposed to have those figured out, right?), make it your goal to share love in every corner of your blog, business, life, or whatever else you’re doing. It doesn’t need to be in-your-face, or shouts about how much you love. I just mean, start taking notice- treat everyone that you speak with (even those nasty commenters that probably didn’t read the whole post anyways) with heaps of love. Pour love out over other bloggers and business owners in your niche. Be thankful and grateful for the gift of this passion that God has given you- and love Him for it! Look at each reader or customer as a soul that has found something useful, refreshing, or encouraging in what you’re writing or selling- not just as a number to help you get to X pageviews or followers.
I’m certain that if you make this effort consistently, you will start to see opportunities to use your influence. Whether you get asked to donate your passions to your church- I’ve done hand lettering for a couple church functions and I’m so grateful that I’m able to offer that. Or you get asked to donate product to a fundraiser for a missions organization (again, from experience). Even though I don’t have a proclamation of my faith right on my website, I’ve been amazed that people I have never met have reached out saying, ‘I know you’re a Christian and love what you’re doing- would you like to be a part of XYZ?’. You really don’t need to label yourselves for others to know, it shows in what you do. I’m still not sure what the big master plan or purpose is for my life, and I’m not sure I ever will know fully. But I’m finally confident that at this moment in my life, I’m using what God has given me.
What has God given you? Are you questioning if it’s your own ambition or God’s purpose? I’d love if we had an open discussion in the comments.
And if this is something you’re wrestling through, can I recommend a book that I’m devouring right now? Restless, by Jenny Allen. It will change the way you look at yourself and your dreams. Here’s a couple lines I read this afternoon that I thought fit too perfectly not to include,
”There is no such thing as spiritual or secular jobs- we just made that up. God calls people to himself, and then to display him in every way, wherever we are. So are you called to teach or write or mother or build homes or fly planes? Beautiful. Do it unto the Lord.”
Colleen is a wife, Mama to 2 year old twins (with another on the way!), and the DIY and lifestyle blogger behind Lemon Thistle where she shares printable art and hands on tutorials for DIY home decor, parties and gifts. Colleen believes you can have a beautiful life, home, and party without spending a lot. When she’s not creating projects for her own blog, she enjoys freelance DIY, home renovations and teaching university students about event management.
Make sure to check out Colleen at Lemon Thistle