Boat masts with rigging and flags

How to Do The Lord’s Work The Lord’s Way (Even When You’re Unqualified, Intimidated, or Overwhelmed)

Story Time: At the end of last year, I received a series of promptings that the Lord wanted me to dedicate myself to building up Jest Kept Secret and making it a Thing. Specifically, He told me to make Spiritual posts a bigger priority on the blog, and to focus on helping others cultivate the joy in their life, especially as they drew closer to God and increased their testimony of the Savior.

I will admit: the thought of posting more spiritual things intimidated me. Missionary work has never been easy for me. I find it incredibly difficult to share things that are so sacred to me, and some unpleasant experiences resulting from early attempts at being a member missionary have left me feeling a little anxious. What would my non-religious friends and readers think? Would they think I was being “preachy”? Would they leave?

But I knew that’s what the Lord was calling me to do, so I made a plan, wrote some posts, did a boatload of research on marketing (and social media management and building community and utilizing Pinterest and SEO and every other internet tool known to mankind), and I worked my little patootie off. I did everything I was “supposed” to do, and while I saw a tiny bump in my numbers, it paled in comparison to the amount of work I was putting in. I may have been working to build up Jest Kept Secret, but it definitely wasn’t turning into the Thing I was hoping for.

I thought about retiring Jest Kept Secret—especially after I started a business and my calendar suddenly got very full—but every time I considered the idea, a little voice would tell me no.

I was discouraged, overwhelmed, and more than a little perplexed.

And then General Conference happened.

A Prophet’s Promise

During the Women’s General Broadcast of the October 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson counseled us to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. Said he:

As impossible as that may seem with all you are trying to manage in your life, if you will accept this invitation with full purpose of heart, the Lord will help you find a way to achieve it. And, as you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation.

That first clause really spoke to me. Could I possibly do one more thing? I mean, I study the scriptures every day, but this challenge would definitely require more time than the 30-40 minutes I usually devote to daily scripture study. But that promise—that the heavens would open for me, and that the Lord would bless me with increased inspiration and revelation—was something I wanted and felt compelled to seek, so I pulled my bookmark from 2nd Nephi and started back on page one.

I wasn’t specifically asking for inspiration and revelation for Jest Kept Secret in this quest, but almost right away, I started to recognize all the little ways that the Lord was opening the heavens for me and my blog. (But don’t worry if you’re not a blogger—they apply to you, too!)

Red boat in the water

Go Build a Boat

Early in the Book of Mormon, the Lord calls Nephi up to the top of a mountain and tells him to build a boat to carry his family across the ocean to the Promised Land. Despite never having built a boat before, Nephi asks the Lord where he could go to find ore to make the tools he would need, then gets to work.

Of course, his older brothers, Laman and Lemuel, think this is absolutely hilarious. “Our brother is a fool,” they say, “for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters.”[1] They don’t believe that he had been called to do the Lord’s work, and they do everything they can to get in his way.

But even this doesn’t faze Nephi. He reminds his brothers of all the great miracles the Lord performed on behalf of the Children of Israel—from freeing them from Egypt and parting the Red Sea to providing manna in the wilderness and guiding them to their own promised land—and says,

And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?

1 Nephi 17:51

Finally convinced, Laman and Lemuel quit murmuring and help Nephi build the boat, following the instructions of the Lord—which, Nephi notes, were not “after the manner of men.”[2] The Lord doesn’t give them all of his instructions at once, either. Nephi has to return to the mountain time and time again to ask for the next steps.[3] At long last, the ship is finished, and they set sail for the Promised Land, where they live happily ever after.

As I read through this account, the Spirit taught me how to handle situations where the Lord’s work leaves us feeling unqualified, intimidated, or overwhelmed.

Nephi Trusted the Lord to Help Him

If I had been in Nephi’s position, I probably would have balked more than a little at the idea of building a boat meant to carry every person I love across the ocean toward an unknown destination. I don’t know how to build a boat! Everybody is going to think I’m crazy, and they’re going to leave me here in the wilderness, all by myself. This is nuts.

In reality, that’s how I was responding to the Lord’s call to write a blog. I worried so much about my failings as a writer, designer, marketer, whatever that I also failed to see that it’s not about what I think I can do, it’s about what the Lord can do through me. We’re taught repeatedly throughout the scriptures that “with God all things are possible,”[4] and yet, we so often forget that that promise is for each one of us.

But not Nephi. His response was, “If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them.”[5] No questions asked. He was so confident in that promise that he knew that no matter what the Lord told him to do, he’d be able to do it.

Nephi asked for materials and instructions

That’s not to say that Nephi just forged ahead with blind faith, charging through his makeshift boatyard like an overconfident tinker who thinks they know what they’re doing. Nephi knew he didn’t know the first thing about building a boat. He didn’t rely on his own experience or lean on his own understanding.[6] He asked the Lord where to look for materials, and returned over and over to ask for further instruction.

In my initial efforts to be obedient, I missed that crucial distinction. I definitely forged ahead with blind faith—this is what the Lord wants me to do, so I’mma do it!-–and didn’t think to include the Lord in my plans for moving forward. I put too much stock into my own ability to figure it out, and when those efforts didn’t yield the fruit I had expected, I became discouraged. The study notes in my journal from reading these verses have a big red star next to the words, “I need to do better at asking the Lord how He wants me to do the things He has asked me to do.”

Sail riggings on a fully-rigged shipNephi didn’t let what others thought stop him

Remember how I said I was worried about what people would think if I started posting more spiritual things on my blog and social media accounts? With the current atmosphere of skepticism and ridicule for religion—especially Christian religion—this was a legitimate fear for me. It was also a legitimate fear for Nephi, whose brothers were the ultimate skeptics. They often grew violent when faced with spiritual things, and more than once, Nephi’s life is put in danger because he stands up for what he believes.

But he never let the fear of another beating stop him from doing the Lord’s work. He confronts his brothers with love and power, and not only do they eventually stop harassing him, they actually join the work and help him build the boat.

When we do the work of the Lord, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be people who will mock us, demean us, and sometimes even threaten us. But if we take a page out of Nephi’s book and stand firm no matter the consequences, we just might be a tool in the Lord’s hand for changing hearts and bringing others into His fold. After all, isn’t that what this is all about? Rescuing the wandering sheep and helping all come to a knowledge of Christ?

Nephi didn’t trust in the ways of men, but in the ways of the Lord

One of my biggest struggles in this whole ordeal is the frustration of following all the blogging “rules” without seeing many returns. I’ve taken blog courses, read hundreds of articles about blog promotion and marketing, enacted practices backed by guarantees of success. And it has gotten me exactly nowhere. I’ve prayed about what to do, and the answers are always unexpected—to the point that I wonder if I’m hearing Him correctly. But the other day, He gently reminded me that His ways are not the world’s ways. “Why are you doing this?” He asked me. “Are you writing to gain worldly acclaim? To be popular? To make money?[7] Or are you doing this to bless the lives of my children?”

I want Jest Kept Secret to be something that genuinely helps people. I want to encourage my readers to do things that bring them joy, and give them the tools that help them do that. I want to build you up and help you accomplish your goals. I want to be your cheerleader and your friend. I want you to feel loved and special and beautiful and capable and everything the Lord knows you can be. That is why I write, and the Lord helped me to see that I had lost sight of that vision by trusting too much in the things of the world. I need to focus less on building a big audience or making my Instagram feed look just so or on pinning the right pins at the right time or… My head is spinning just thinking about it all. Instead of focusing on worldly ways and measures of success, I need to focus more on being the blogger that one person needs. It may be a friend. It may be a stranger. It may even just be myself. But if I can bring light to someone’s life, then I’m doing what He wants me to do.

I need to trust Him enough to let Him lead me as I try to do His work.

What is the Lord calling you to do? How have you been successful as you’ve let him help you do His work?

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Timbers of Curious Workmanship: How to Do the Lord's Work the Lord's Way | Jest Kept Secret

[1] 1 Nephi 17:17-18

[2] 1 Nephi 18:2

[3] 1 Nephi 18:3

[4] Mark 10:27

[5] 1 Nephi 17:50

[6] Proverbs 3:5

[7] I don’t think it’s impossible to make a living while doing the Lord’s work, and there are plenty of monetized bloggers who provide great services. I would love it if Jest Kept Secret helped provide for my family, which is why you’ll still see affiliate links. Even Nephi’s boat was a means of helping ensure that his family was well taken care of. The Lord expects us to be self-sufficient, and that endeavor is not mutually exclusive with doing His work.

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