My Next Right Step

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I am a planner.

Maybe it is because responsibility is one of my strengths? Maybe it is because I am a control freak? Maybe it is because I want to make sure that I don’t miss out on anything?

Regardless of why, I am a planner. I plan. It is what I do.

Scarcely do I find myself plan-less.

But oddly in the grand scheme of my career to date, I have never known where I was headed. I’ve talked about this before. As a child, I didn’t envision myself as a heroic firefighter, a stay-at-home mom, an entitled princess, a corporate tycoon, or a vengeful crusader. I didn’t graduate from college thinking I want to work in publishing or in Corporate Communications. I’ve always kind of stumbled onto what was next.

But now for some strange reason I feel this great pressure to know what God’s plan is for my life, to know where I am headed, to know what my legacy will be.

And candidly it is overwhelming.

These feeling were only heightened when I spent a few days a couple of weeks ago in Chicago at the Q Conference surrounded by people with big dreams who were not only making them happen, but literally changing the world in the process.

As I packed up to leave, I filled with self-doubt. Why wasn’t I doing something more meaningful? Why didn’t I have bigger dreams? Why was I just stewing in my discontent? (Certainly not my average Friday afternoon questions.)

I made a few important goodbyes before I took off. And in the process, I had one of the most meaningful conversations of my life. My new “left coast” friend Kyle Zimmerman is a sage who filled me with some great advice that I have been stewing on for the few weeks. He said, “Lindsey, you don’t need to understand His plan. You just need to figure out your next right step.”

And here I sit prayerfully considering my next right step.

Thanks Kyle for speaking truth into my life. May your advice help others like it has helped me.

Are you looking for His plan or the next step He wants you to take?

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • "But now for some strange reason I feel this great pressure to know what God’s plan is for my life, to know where I am headed, to know what my legacy will be.

    And candidly it is overwhelming."

    I'm right there with you, Lindsey. The fact I hit 40 in January is just piling on. I feel like my entire life has been a waste and I'm craving purpose that will let me feel like my life has meant something.

    What's awesome about what you're facing is you're getting it done now. You're working through it. You're straining and striving for God's purpose for you. You're in the midst of the growth pains. It's going to be exciting to see what you're like on the other side of it.
    My recent post Countdown to Blue Ridge: 5 days to go…

  • I'm right there with you Lindsey. Since graduating from college in 2005 I've felt like my wheels were just spinning and I've also just fallen into whatever opportunity was next. Kind of had a leaning toward HR, but struggled to make (and find) that first strategic step.

    Over the past few months I've read a number of books (Miller, Boyett, Eldredge, etc) and really started to feel there was a greater story for me to tell beyond the stereotypically "American Dream". However, that grand ambiguity can be overwhelming.

    Kyle's comment to you is dead on. How can we even attempt to comprehend God's plan and how our lives fit into His cosmic scheme? There is definite wisdom in simply discovering what the next step is.

    Confession: I'm a planner too.
    My recent post Midnight Showing

    • you are right. "that grand ambiguity can be overwhelming…" 🙂

  • Hey Lindsey,

    thanks so much for this post and your transparency. I have recently found myself in the same boat– wondering where I am headed and if I am even facing the right direction. I appreciate your honesty; it's so encouraing!

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  • such wisdom in that simple statement. i find myself back in a place of tremendous uncertainty, and i needed that reminder that i just have to take the next right step.

    now i just need to figure out what that is…
    My recent post a different take on boundaries

  • I'm not much of a planner, but when it's decision time I want to know the plan. I'm achingly hungry to know what's best. I know sometimes there's not one right best. Sometimes it's a matter of taking the next best step (I LOVE that) and then the next best one after that. Thanks for the good reminder.
    My recent post Judging a Book

  • Good post … reminds of a quote from Martin Luther King's – "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
    For a few years, I couldn't look beyond the next step because I didn't know how good my body would recover from major injuries. That was hard … but I focusing on doing what I could with what I had kept me from going crazy from not knowing what the future held. Thankfully I recovered well and can now plan ahead more, but I still try to live 'one day at a time' and not stress about the unknowns.

    My recent post Tuesday Thoughts

  • Russ R.

    Poignant words that I needed to hear today.

  • I definitely have been looking for that next right step. I will be praying for you!
    My recent post Fear

  • This really challenged me. I'm right there with you. Sometimes I let me self get overwhelmed from trying to figure it all out when all I really need to do it trust God for my next step. I recently heard someone say they were learning to trust God in 24-hour increments. Me, too. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing good to trust Him in 60 minute increments. 🙂
    My recent post Confessions Of A People Pleaser (Guest blog by Stephen Brewster)

  • Bryan

    Thanks for the post, Linds. I know I've shared this with you before, but here again is one of my favorite quotes by Paulo Coehlo: "God never abandons his children, but his purposes are unfathomable, and he builds the road with our own steps." You are meant to do something beautiful and meaningful. It doesn't have to be glamorous, but your sense of fulfillment will let you know you're in the right direction. Suzanne and I are glad to be on that journey with you, friend.

    • So appreciate you and Suzanne…SO APPRECIATE YOU AND SUZANNE…

  • Thank you for such amazing words…feel like I'm hitting that wall, learning to die to self and getting closer to that next step. Having a well organized plan is what motivates my days however I'm beginning to learn God is the planner and organizer. Learning to let my dreams, visions, and goals die so I can fully experience the dreams visions and goals set forth by God!!
    My recent post Shifting Winds

  • Lindsey, (1/2)
    I totally agree with you. I too am a planner. My wife and friends make fun of me for overly planning. I also went through the same struggles you did when I graduated. I went to jobs that just kind of landed in front of me and took opportunities that came before me, not ones that I planned for. However that all changed for me about 12 years ago when I read the 7 Habits. At first it made me realize the power of planning and long range planning and how to do that. But most importantly it pointed me in the direction of writing a personal mission statement and that has been crafted, prayed over, picked through, discussed with family and friends and honed till it is what it is today. A mission fueled by God that I try and live out every day.
    My recent post Gold Nuggets for the Professional Life

  • (2/)
    I am not always perfect at it and I come home and have days like you have had recently, but when it comes to planning for the day, week, month, year or next 3-5 years, I never do it without reading my mission statement first and then using it to guide me with prayer and discernment. I think that the real breakthrough for me is that when I look at the mission and realize that God and I worked on it together, it helps to realize that hopefully what I am doing is the missio Dei God’s plan, not mine. Good luck and may God be with you in your planning.

    My recent post Gold Nuggets for the Professional Life

    • That's very cool…I'd love to have clarity around mine. I'm working towards that.

  • Claudia Duncan

    Lindsey… an inspiring post. Thank you… just what I needed to read. Lately, I've felt like there is something missing – and I am trying to find out what it is. Looking for the missing link and listening carefully to make sure I don't miss something. Thanks again…

  • Great advice! When I went to Texas for the Siesta Scripture Memory Conference…Beth shared with us from Psalm 119. When she discussed verse 105 with us ("Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path") she held out her arm as if holding a lamp or a lantern. She then told us that when holding a lantern in front of you, there is often only enough light for us to see the next step. That stood out to me. Enjoyed this post! You are in my heart and prayers!
    My recent post Rooted

    • oooh, that's good. And now I'm stuck on Amy Grant. Thanks 🙂

      • Yep! We sang that song right after she was done talking. Ha! Now its stuck in mine again!
        My recent post Rooted

  • Good post. At 52, I am still making next steps. My call to ministry was an unfolding one. I simply took one step at at time. And I can relate to you regarding 'not know where I was headed.' That has been me and I think that is God wire me (and maybe you, too) to be.

    The surety and awareness will come and it seems to me that there is a stirring that is taking place in you right now. For me that has always been a sign that I am be prepared to take a next step.

    Walk (not run) with God!

    • Thanks Jim. A stirring is a good way to put it. And you are the second person to use that terminology in the last 24 hours. Hmmmm…..

  • Bridgett

    Amazing that twitter brought me to your bog the day you left te conference and your post really messed me up (one of those God things). And now this post. For a few years I have felt Gods nudge to move in a different direction but fear has held me back. I missed an amazing opprotunity due to this BUT over the last two years God hasmolded me in a lot of ways and now I am waiting on the next right step instead of looking for the map to lead me to the destination. I have to take the next step and have faith that each step will lead me to His destination in His time. Thanks for the post!

    • Bridgett, From reading your comment…Sounds like you know what the next right step is. I'd trust that. And wait to worry. He's got you.

  • Brad

    I've always been a guy that likes to set a goal and to reach it – ASAP. My motto has been: Get from point "A" to "B" with limited interruptions. So…several years ago I took a road trip with my wife and kids. My goal: Reach point "B" in 25 hours. And to my amazement, I did it. I must admit, I was one proud guy as we all tumbled out of the car together. One problem: In my passion to reach point "B", I blew past so many beautiful scenic views/routes that the entire trip to point "B" seemed like one big blur. Not very memorable and very few pictures (hard to take a shot out the window at speeds approaching 90!).

    You see, I have been taught at conferences that if you don't have that "one big dream," that "one big vision," that you tend to be less in the presence of God and His will for your life. Like somehow, God isn't speaking to us at point "A". But now, in a strange way, I view these big dreams and visions as potential distractions (by the enemy) from being able to value the gift of the mundane. For example, this morning my nine year old daughter was singing to her pop tart. Yes…her pop tart. Years ago, I might have missed it on my way out the door to conquer the dragons of this world. But today, I grabbed a pop tart with my daughter and we sang together. Here's the cool part: I believe that this little pop tart melody will be the legacy that my daughter will remember about me long after I'm gone – not the conquering of dragons.

    I know that what I'm saying is not popular and I could even border on being an under-achiever. But I'm achieving far more at point "A" in my life (right now) than I could ever hope or imagine at point "B."

    Okay, so here's my encouragement to you: I know it sounds like a cliche, but I believe God has you right where He wants you – so do your best to embrace the "mundane" and perhaps you may also get to experience the "insane." Point "B", I believe, is over-rated. Embrace point "A" and watch God delight in YOU!

    Love your authenticity!

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  • Which Death Cab For Cutie record is your favorite?

    • Is this random or is it just me? Record: Plans Song: I Will Follow You Into the Dark…kinda depressing but I love it

      • Random? No. Just Thom being Thom.

  • Yes, I'm kind of at that point right now. I don't necessarily see a drastic change ahead but there is certainly a tug or a drawing in a direction I've never gone before. I'm just praying it through and focusing on God's voice and the Holy Spirit's leading. Thing is – there are steps to be taken as well. Just walking, no jogging or running at this point! Although it may well come to that…
    My recent post Action Required…

  • I too am wondering what the next right (big?) God step is – both for me, and for my daughter. She has had a dream of becoming a teacher for as long as we can remember, but she is unable to enter the education degree program at her university due to being – no joke- 2/100's of a point away from the required entranc GPA. Nothing about this dream has come easily for her or to her – and now that we're at the end of the road at her college of choice, we are left in a pathless place, and are just waiting for God to show us what's next, as we're totally out of options – in our limited minds.

    • Can't your daughter take a course or two to raise her GPA and then re-apply? You might look into an independent correspondence course or an online course–just make sure the college will accept the credits. Have you talked to her advisor or the department head? Do they have a way you can appeal? If nothing else works, then look for a university that will accept her credits. Believe me (I'm a high school teacher), what college a teacher attended is not that important.
      My recent post #41 THE DOING OF LOVING: KINDNESS

  • Lindsay, I think God doesn't mind our input into what path we are going to take. Our lives are what we and God make them to be–we're not passive receivers in deciding where to go and what to do. I speak my mind to God and I expect Him to give me knowledge, understanding, and wisdom so that I can make productive choices. When unexpected things crop up, I ask Him to make good out of them. God loves us and that love is a two-way relationship. Hold on to His love, be honest with him, and expect Him to work things out for you.
    My recent post #41 THE DOING OF LOVING: KINDNESS

  • I am very much in the same place too. The church that I am the pastor of is going through some major decisions that will change the direction of our church. The tough part is the waiting on God part for His leading and direction ..
    My recent post 3 ways to use Facebook to promote your blog

    • Kevin, I'm sorry…that sounds like a tough place to be. I am such a bad waiter. 😉 Saying a prayer for you guys now.

      • Thanks for the prayers Lindsey! It's not necessarily a bad place to be in (other than the waiting:) I am very excited about where God is leading us but I also know that the changes that are necessary are not going to come easy.

  • I love this.

    And it probably doesn't surprise you to hear I wrestle deeply with the same tension.
    Thanks for being so open about that process in your life. You give the rest of us freedom to embrace the process all the more.

    Have a great weekend, Lindsey!

  • I am right there with you… learning to be plan-less and just taking the first right step. Prayerfully and plan-lessly.
    So so difficult though. II feel more secure when i have a plan and no exactly where I am going. But God is always faithful even when we can not see the way.

  • Brad Nevin

    I finished ‘The Hole in our Gospel’ today and wanted to thank you sincerely for mailing it to me at such an important time in my life. Here I sit in Cape Town, SA…a month and a half after the first 10 days with my missions team from Atlanta, I am still here volunteering in the community and having such a good time learning all about the people and the good and bad that they deal with. I am assisting with Grade 1 and 2 kids at a school in a very poor area of CT; it’s not a town ship, but not far above one either. I am also mulling the next step in my life and career as I feel God calling me to do more to help people in need…not necessarily in Africa but I feel that now is my chance to choose this path and take a leap of faith in my life. It’s very confusing and overwhelming to know where to start, but if I can take the next right step, I feel like I will be right where He wants me. Linds, this book is one of those that you feel is written just for you when you read it…at just the right time…thanks so much! I pray that we can all take the next right step and know that we are moving in the right direction.

  • Something I couldnt agree with more! Veyr often I only know the next step ahead of me, this doesnt mean that God doesnt have plans for my life and it doesnt mean that I dont have dreams, I often have dreams but theya re not always in line with Gods plans, at the end of the day I have a choice, run with my dream or run with Gods plan, guess what, God wins each time.
    I think it is all too easy to look at what others are doing and think 'if only I was more like that' well the fact is you're not you are you and thats just as well coz God needs you, to fulfil his plans in your life, even if you are only given 1 step ahead.
    I think if I had been given the whole plan, or even a significant part of it, I would have bloted out of the door years ago, I didn't sign up to soem of what I have had to do and deal with right from day one and had I known I am not sure that I would have signed up to it!! Sometimes there is a good reason why we dont get the whole picture.
    e.g. I am the father of 2 very special children, but we adopted them because we couldnt have children of our own, we didnt sign up to that when we married, our plan, our dream, was to have a lovely home and a lovely family, 2 kids of our own to lvoe and cherish, yes we go the 2 kids but not the conventional way, add into that, we choose, because we felt lead by God, to adopt children with special needs, but had we known what that entailed there is no way we would have signed up to it, the sleepless nights continue even though the youngest is 9, it is rare for us to have a whole nights sleep, we are changing 'diapers' on a 15 year old boy, we have had to buy a more expensive house than we can afford, on paper, in order to accomodate our families needs. we face regular, almost daily, battles with health, social service and education services to get the children the services they need.
    All this whilst sufferign chronic depression and fatigue, not what I signed up to when I became a Christian! But its what God had in store for me and I am so glad he never placed these thigns as dreams in my heart, as things to anticipate and look forward to.

  • This hit HOME!! Wow your questions have been my questions. I once chatted briefly with Luis Palau regarding how I want to be a Moses or a Noah and did he still allow arks to be built and floods to occur. He said Noah's and Moses' can still exist but let's hope there is no more floods.

    I think we often limit ourselves and God through our very sin nature and our humaness (ok so that may not be a word). Yet he is ALMIGHTY GOD and he can do ALL things through us. In our averageness (again not a word) he can do AWESOMENESS.

    Oh how I long to soar and fly with the eagles when many days I feel trapped in a gray cublicle with the chickens. I want to soar to new heights for Him and His kingdom.

    Question is how do I fly?
    My recent post Consistency and Conditional love

  • I'm like you, an extreme planner that somehow ends up forced into or stumble into the next thing when it comes to my life. God works in that too.
    My recent post What Are You Running To

  • Terry Wilhite

    Hey – I really enjoy your posts! I'm a corporate communicator too, actually working for a school system now. I cannot recommend John Ortberg's book enough: The Me I Want to Be!http://www.themeiwanttobe.com/
    Great points, among them: God cares more about your future than you do. Also, you're not the architect of your life – obviously you've alluded to that. That fact is a great relief, actually. I'm 45. I can tell you that ever time I pray Jeremiah 33:3 for my career I literally hang on for the ride. Frankly, I don't pray that often. Turning one's life over to the Lord is necessary and great but specifically turning one's career over to the Lord is an added blessing. Your transparency is a ministry!

    Come see us in Baldwin County, Alabama

    Terry Wilhite
    Spanish Fort, Alabama

  • you've been on my heart since I returned from Africa… just read your last couple of weeks of blog posts and now I have a better glimpse into why… will be praying for you friend. From the outside, looks like God is doing some new things in you… but I know from walking through this process in my own life… things can be tougher when you are actually going thru it. Will continue to pray for you as you take your next steps 🙂
    My recent post Meet With Me: He Reaches Across the Globe for Us

  • I went to India for ten days, been back one week, and am broken. You crossed my mind several times, now that I’m caught up reading, I know now why.
    I came back with less answers and more questions to add to my list.
    The pursuit of God and where He wants us is a holy thing.
    I don’t have great advice or answers for you, but can and will be praying.
    Praying that the wait won’t seem unbearable, that you’ll get lots of affirmation along the way-each day, and that you’ll know without a doubt the next step you need to take. That it would be like one person said before-a clear light, shining just the right amount for the next step. Love you and respect you. He loves you more and treasures your heart’s desires as His own. Blessings my friend!

  • I feel stuck in the middle of thinking next step and how does that look in the context of big picture. the smaller things are hard for me to remember to think about. I am more vision than planner, but the steps are what make the dream. i think the small steps make the dream valuable. Loved this!

  • Great message. As a NON-PLANNER, i am not always clear on that next best step. I need to focus on His will and His kingdom and be in tune that my next step is in His direction. Great post. Thanks!

  • Jesusfreak292931

    Im in and have been in a, “dry season” in God and it has seemed so long…?QUESTION? Is this normal? It was like 4 yrs ago that I felt His presence with me everywhere I went and 1 day…serioulsy in 1 day…it felt as if He was gone! Now I know He hasn’t left me….but His presence is different! It’s really taking a tole on me! I;m hurting and literally acheing for Him as I once had Him…I thought for years it was b/c of sin…and I spent time in panic and lots of frustration…cring…telling Him that I’m really trying to be patient whie going through this dredfull season…I would not want anyone to go from one extreme in Him to this….I’ve been saved almost 7 yrs. Even finding a church ….it’s been difficult! My church home in Fla. is and was so alive in God!! When you walk in you feel His presence and it is so hard to leave that and still 4 yrs later walking into different churches leaving disappointed b/c He isn’t there like He is at my church home….I’ve prayed and prayed and begged…rested…and know that none of this has changed the season….Does anyone know what is going on????

    Sister N need of the Lover of her souls presence….