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Have you ever wondered, “Do I really have what it takes?”

Ever felt a gnawing sense of inadequacy, a creeping fear that you’re ill-equipped, and not up to the challenge your calling presents?

Do you occasionally hear the lying whispers of the devil? “You’re a fraud!” “You’ll never succeed!” “Just quit and do something else!”

For me . . . yes, yes, and yes. And I wonder: does everyone who answers God’s call battle with similarly defeating thoughts? The onslaught of these negative musings distract us, wear us down—and can eventually paralyze us. Left unchallenged, they can prevent us from finishing our God-given race.

What God has called you to do is important. It has eternal implications. So how you respond to defeating thought patterns means everything. How you fight back will determine whether or not you finish strong.

I love the race God has given me to run. Coming alongside leaders and helping them lead better, lead longer, and enjoy it more is deeply fulfilling. Some days I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Getting to do what you love every day is a gift from God.

But loving what you do for a living doesn’t exempt you from times of intense struggle. If you’re doing something of eternal significance, you can count on having to fight moments of doubt. When negative thoughts intrude, how we respond is critical. Catastrophic thinking lurks just around the corner, threatening to confuse us about our God-given purpose. And not just confuse us . . . but bring us to a grinding halt.

So, as a leader, (and as a follower, for that matter), what can you do when those fleeting moments of doubt emerge? How can you fight through it? What behaviors will keep you running the magnificent race God’s called you to?

1. Remember Who called you

It’s frightening how easily we forget how awesome God is. Remembering how amazing He is can be a powerful ally in running your race. Remember: God’s purpose for you is always clear . . . at least from His perspective. Your calling—though it finds a variety of expressions through the seasons of life—is certain. When you feel weak, tired, inadequate, ill-equipped, and unsure—ask Him for energy, boldness, and a fresh dose of clarity. God will give you all those things and more. His resources are inexhaustible, and available simply by asking Him.

When negative thoughts bombard you, ask God what He thinks about you and your calling. What He thinks matters the most. Remember each morning you strap on your uniform, you’re not alone. Greater is the God who lives inside you than the devil who seeks to destroy you. Remember the battle is His, not yours.

2. Tell yourself: thoughts are not always facts

We should pay attention to our thoughts, while at the same time acknowledging that not every thought flying through our cranium deserves to rent space there. Our thoughts are not always facts.

When Jesus was facing the prospect of the cross, He became stressed to the point of sweating blood. He prayed: “Father, if it’s possible, may this cup be taken from me.” Now, He quickly followed up that prayer with this: “Yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

If Jesus had a moment of intense mental struggle—why do we think it strange when we do?

Sometimes negative thoughts are so overwhelming, we need help processing what’s going on inside of our noggins. Converge Coaching’s mentors are safe, competent, and have come alongside thousands of leaders to help them process thoughts that unchecked, threatened to take them out of their race. You can start a conversation with one of our mentors here.

3. Get started

Here’s an “old-guy” lesson I’ve discovered: passion, confidence, and clarity often return by simply doing what you love, even when you’re not sure you’re “the guy or the gal for the job.” When your first inclination is to blow off the day because you feel inadequate, just start working.

Due to my struggle with major depression many years ago, I feel compelled to offer this disclaimer: If you’re truly depleted and suffering with exhaustion (maybe even major depression), you’ll need to take time to recharge, refuel, and reconstitute the way you approach life. For you, it’s not a matter of pushing through—it’s a matter of getting healthier. But for those who are generally healthy, don’t let a negative thought or two (or ten) keep you stuck. Get started.

I hit the gym four days each week, and often upon arriving in the parking lot, I sit in the car and think, “I really don’t want to do this today.” Then I tell myself: “You’ll feel better after the first set of bench presses.” And you know what? I do!

When your confidence seems low, when you wonder if you’re the person for the job, when you question whether or not you’ve got what it takes—just get started. You’ll often discover the confidence and energy you feel is missing will find you.

I’m guessing your calling is not an easy path. Twists and turns await. Success and failure will greet you. When you’re working in your wheelhouse, most days will be a pleasure. But there will be those moments where negative thinking wants to dominate you. It will try to compete for a bigger piece of real estate in your mind than you should ever give it.

Remember Who called you. Tell yourself that what you’re thinking in the moment might not reflect reality. And when everything inside of you wants to check out of the race, get started.

Perhaps you’re wondering, “Why should I fight back when negative thoughts press in on me? Well, because the ability to finish your God-given race depends on it. Your desire to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant,” depends on it. The health and welfare of the people who need what you bring to the table depends on it.

Hang in there my friend. Keep running your race.

I’m rooting and praying for you!

John Opalewski

Author John Opalewski

John Opalewski is a graduate of Oral Roberts University. He served as a pastor for fifteen years. He has worked in the business world for nearly two decades, serving in multiple leadership roles. John's experience as a leader in both the church and business arenas has made him a sought-after international speaker, coach and mentor.

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