Fear. Comparison. Epic past failures.
Those three challenges formed an unholy trinity of obstacles in my life. They kept me from aspiring to use my gifts to glorify God. I was that “one talent” girl who buried her writing dreams to avoid rejection and more failure (Matthew 25:14–28).
My low point came in part because I compared myself to other writers—especially the Christian authors whose material I edited. Their books seemed to sell faster than tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. Those authors’ influence for the sake of the gospel spread from the US to the uttermost parts of the world. They were definitely the “five talent” crowd.
Even when I did muster the courage to take my one talent and write, it didn’t go well. The first decade—that’s right, ten years—of my writing endeavors ended in commercial disaster. Three book series for children—hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work—yielded one royalty check for $2.56.
But it wasn’t about the money. I wanted to make a difference. And I did, in the toilet paper industry. Did you know that unsold books are shredded into bathroom tissue? I saw myself as one giant Charmin producer so much so I thought Proctor & Gamble should pay me a kickback. So, I gave up writing to save trees. I decided to just send my files straight to the electronic trashcan and save a step in the recycling process.
Then I stopped writing. Why try? I obviously don’t have what it takes. God isn’t blessing me.
Anybody else out there struggling to find a way to use your gifts? Hang on, because I have some good news. It wasn’t until I was surrounded by a team of encouraging women and other writers at my workplace that my hope was rekindled. There’s something special—wait, don’t I mean holy?—about fellowship and Christian encouragement.
Finding Connection with Likeminded Ladies
I see the power of that type of connectedness daily now that I work for Esther Press. I’m in contact with women who want to share their stories through different and exciting mediums. These Christian women desire to live out God’s calling on their lives courageously through podcasts, television, and social media. Through hosting Bible studies or leading single’s groups. Through their roles as wives and mothers. Through teaching or singing at the local church or becoming missionaries to foreign lands or underserved communities. These women want to serve God with a passion.
And you can be part of that passionate response to God too. Come meet these Esther Press warriors and learn from them at the est.Her conference, Thursday, April 11, to Saturday, April 13, 2024. At the conference you’ll join a community and be guided to actively define your own unique gifts. Afterward you’ll walk away with the clarity and encouragement to step into who God is calling you to be.
The est.Her conference experience picks up where ordinary women’s conferences end. At this Esther Press event, you’ll be equipped through steady, intimate connections with workshop leaders and other participants. A single, streamlined schedule will have you enrolled in every workshop and available to hear all the inspirational sessions.
Bring your friends so you can extend the fellowship afterward because there’s synergy in Christian friendship. But sign up soon: this event is smaller to create a more intimate relationship dynamic, and conference tickets are limited. You’ll find you can experience more in community than you can as an individual.
Community Is Necessary to Run Your Race
Here’s what happened to me once I had a Christian community that helped me develop my gifts. My fear? Banished by the encouragement of those around me. I tried again to invest my one talent in writing yet another children’s book series.
My propensity to compare myself to other writers? Diminished, after I realized my fellow authors (the five-talent authors) were just obeying God. He was getting the glory, and ministry was happening. This time, my books actually sold (with marketing help from my friends) instead of being shredded into toilet paper.
Living in the shadow of epic past failures? Faded, as I learned to look forward and let God lead me. Much of this came from meeting other struggling writers at Christian conferences. Their grit and perseverance were contagious.
Through my one-talent book series, the message that God is faithful has reached hundreds of thousands of families with kids under ten. Friends, please don’t bury your dreams. Plant them as seeds and learn how to nurture them along with other courageous women at the est.Her conference in April. Together, we’ll watch God take those dreams and do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Marianne Hering is an editorial Jane-of-all-trades: ghost blogger, children’s book author, content writer, picture-book coach, developmental editor, magazine article writer, and copyeditor. While on the staff with Focus on the Family, she helped launch the popular Clubhouse and Club Jr. magazines in 1987 and edited their children’s books for more than a decade. She is the fiction acquisitions editor for Brio magazine and manages the parenting column “Hacks & Facts” for Focus on the Family magazine. She recently joined David C Cook as a developmental editor for Esther Press books. Perhaps the “chapter” in her career she’s enjoyed the most is writing The Imagination Station book series for children ages seven to ten, which has more than one million cumulative sales.