Kelli B. Trujillo
Over the past two years I’ve been working on writing a devotional series for women called Flourishing Faith. It’s been awesome to dive into some fantastic topics and open up God’s Word for my readers.
But . . .
There have been two long stretches that have been tough for me as a writer. Why? Because I’ve been writing about topics that challenge me personally. Really.
First in writing the marriage devotional. I’ve got a normal, healthy Christian marriage—but (emphasis on normal) marriage can be really hard! I’m no expert! How could I write a book on this topic if I’m still (and will always be) figuring it out?
And then, months later, it got worse: I worked on a book about prayer. I struggle with prayer. I’m no expert! echoed again. Could—should—I really write about this?
Ever been there? As a ministry leader, mentor, speaker, Bible study facilitator, employee, business leader, friend, or mother—ever felt, privately, that you weren’t quite qualified to lead or influence others on a certain topic?
I was able to hush the questioning voices in my mind during the writing process by clinging determinedly to a principle that I know and have experienced to be true: Influence can come from all directions.
Sometimes we influence from the summit. We’ve reached a place of wisdom, expertise, maturity, or insight. Maybe it’s a topic we feel passionately about—we’ve studied it, lived it, know it inside and out, and we’re confident in sharing our insights with others. This is leadership from the front—like a hiker who’s reached the summit, is enjoying the awesome view, and is calling down instructions, guidance, and encouragement to those still navigating their way up.
Other times we influence as a fellow pilgrim. I believe—and Scriptural examples confirm this again and again—that we don’t need to be “qualified experts” in order to influence and encourage others. In fact, often times people are put off by seemingly superhuman “experts” and long for a real, authentic, struggling fellow human to learn with and from. Influencing others as a fellow pilgrim means sharing authentically from the middle of the journey—exploring with others how God is leading you, challenging you, changing you. It even means sharing questions you’re still wrestling with or victories you haven’t yet achieved.
And there are even times when we influence in our brokenness. When God uses our moments of desolation, conviction, weakness, and spiritual poverty to bless, challenge, or inspire another. Consider Jesus’ parable of the tax collector: Broken-hearted and humiliated before God, he beat his breast and could only utter a simple, agonizing prayer: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). This man—not the I’ve-got-it-all-together-Pharisee—served as Jesus’ example of authentic faith and humility. When we have the courage to let down the façade and vulnerably share our failures, God’s powerful grace can work in ways we don’t expect. God can powerfully influence others through our lives, even from the back.
So when the voices echo, You’re no expert!, just tell them to hush up. Just as you influence from your areas of expertise, never underestimate how God can use your “normal” journey and even from your failures to minister to others.