I remember the crossroads like it was yesterday. I was 21 and I had filled in two application forms. Now, I had two options.
Option A - Teacher training. I'd just finished a gap year with my church and we had spent a lot of time working with teenagers. I really enjoyed it and figured that teaching might be a good next step.
Option B - Become a paid youth worker at a different local church (they'd asked me to consider the post). Rent free house included...
Inspiring and motivating teenagers to truly be all they were created to be was my dream back then. But it didn't sound like a proper job to me. It didn't sound like the sort of thing people got paid for and it certainly didn't sound like I should be getting a house thrown into the deal! I loved my church and couldn't imagine leaving.
All things considered, I was too nervous to go against the grain and do something outside of the norm.
So I didn’t follow through.
I qualified as a teacher and then taught in high schools for seven years.
The truth? I harboured a dream of what that 'youth worker' post might have looked like for most of my teaching career. I prayed about working in a way where I could share my faith 'full time' and God seemed to say no, because year on year, I was back in the classroom. At the end of every school year, despite wanting to leave, I could never quite pluck up the courage. I took the opportunity to do a lot of voluntary work with my church - leading the youth work and helping to run (and later pioneer) young women's ministries. I even launched Christian Unions at the schools I taught in.
Fear continued to keep me bound from ever going after anything which didn't look 'normal' because to be honest, I got used to my teacher's salary and my safe 9-5 lifestyle and job security. Even though I knew that high school teaching was not my wider why!
I finally took big risk in the summer of 2011 after hearing about an amazing urban mission initiative taking place over on the other side of London. The heart of Eden is all about moving to a challenging area and living alongside and serving the youth community there as a volunteer, whilst maintaining your full-time job. I LOVED this idea as it meant I could be more full on in ministry whilst still holding onto my job security. But it was still a risk. I had to leave my family, friends and church and find a flat in an area I didn't know, all by myself. I'd just turned 25. I knew God was calling me to this and so I stepped out in faith and moved into a tiny studio flat in my wonderful new community.
I'm not saying that risk and huge leaps of faith are keys to God's provision... there's no formula for that. But I am saying that after I'd told God that I'd had enough of searching for my one day husband in the world of online dating and church hopping, and that I was just ready to surrender my life, hopes and dreams to Him and go where He led me... I met my would be husband! Eighteen months later, we were married! I turned 26 on our gorgeous honeymoon in Cancun.
So... there I was, balancing the teacher/Eden life, when something pretty amazing happened! My husband and I were asked to come and serve on (another) church staff team! We prayed about making the big decision to move and all that came with it (pay-cuts, leaving friends again etc) but we knew it was right. I was ready to smugly hand in my big, bold letter of resignation to the school I was working in, and then I was called in by the headteacher...
The role that I was working in at the school (leading an alternative education unit) was no longer going to operate in the same way the following year and so my role wasn't there anymore... I had been laid off.
Yes, I was going to leave anyway, but after seven long years in education, I wanted to be the one to tell it I was finally moving on.
The truth? Redundancy was one of the best things that's ever happened to me.
Being made redundant told me that it was GOD and no one else who was firmly closing the door on my teaching career. I didn't choose to leave teaching, the pastor friends of ours who invited us to come and serve on their church staff team hadn't chosen this for us either. It was all God and He gave me permission to dream again.
You know what they say - when one door closes, another one opens?
I finally had the time and space I'd so desperately wanted to focus on my wider why - equipping amazing women like you with real truth (Biblical and relevant) for real life (family, business and everything in between) and enabling you to believe you truly can go after your God-given dreams, just like I did!
I never would have been able to begin even thinking about living this life if I'd remained in a 9-5 job as a high school teacher. God knew that, and He had been preparing me for my future right from the start. The lessons I learned as a teacher & the clarity I gained during my years of volunteer work were essential. Those years all prepared me with the tools and the know-how I needed to live in my now. God always, always, always has a plan!
My own story has propelled me to remind brilliant women like you that trusting God really is everything. Trusting him with our hearts, our lives and our work.
Work... To be perfectly honest, for the first six months of my post-teaching life I did barely anything when I wasn’t ministering at church. I mean, I did the laundry and I cooked dinner… but I also watched A LOT of Pretty Little Liars. I suddenly had all of this time to work on my hopes and dreams, but guess what got in the way again? Yep, fear.
Of all the foul four letter words that get banded around, to me, ‘fear’ is the most poisonous.
I kept letting myself believe that even though I had the space to, if I went after my hopes and dreams, I’d be laughed at, that no one would be interested and that I’d fail.
So, I kept procrastinating.
The next six-months were a little better – I learned that consistency was key, and so I made a commitment to start blogging to my tiny list of subscribers every week. I then made the decision to create a 30-day devotional for my readers. By the end of the 30-day series (one month), my list had doubled in size. It was clear people were interested in what I had to say, but I still wasn’t confident enough to sell something like a book or a course. Even though I knew God had given me gifts, skills and talents which could help so many.
The thing is, I’ve always been quite tech-savvy. I built my church's website and have had my own blog for six years. I’d been online with my first website for years too. However, teaching drained me of time and energy and I’d never gotten around to do anything with it besides a blog post here and a video there. I was always too overwhelmed with options to know what to do next, even if I'd wanted to.
And yet, here I was with all this time, still not moving...
Then I turned 30.
For me, turning 30 and still not having the ‘get up and go’ enough to pursue my dreams made me decide that enough was enough.
I wasn't about to make the same mistake twice no matter what risks were involved.
I’d heard about coaching a few months before and had signed up to a few high-level coaches’ freebies.
Freebies are informative, but they don’t hold anyone accountable.
So I ignored them, most of the time.
BUT THEN I REALISED THAT I STILL HADN'T MOVED FROM 'AH HA' TO ACTION, AND IF I ACTUALLY WANTED THIS TO WORK, I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE MY PURPOSE-DRIVEN VISION A LOT MORE SERIOUSLY.
So I invested and got the support I desperately needed to get going.
After long discussions with my husband and lots of prayers, we knew that it was the right thing to do even though money was beyond tight.
Investing in myself was honestly the best thing I ever did for my God-given hopes and dreams.
Within the first week of working with my high level coach, I'd finally moved forward. My 30-day devotional, which was previously just a set of blog posts collecting dust on my laptop, was a fully edited e-book available to download and receiving paying customers! I even created a second one almost immediately after that using some other previous blog posts.
I then quickly went on to create and build my first e-course on it's own membership site and filled it with women from all over the world. My work has been featured on blogs internationally as well as on national radio several times.
One day, after getting off the phone to my coach, I recognised that all I'd needed all along was a plan. Of course I did! The best lessons I ever produced as a teacher were the ones with clear and obvious plans. Those were the lessons where my students shone. Planning for business was no exception.
WHAT I'D SOON CREATED FOR MYSELF WAS THE PLAN... WHAT I'D NEEDED ALL ALONG WAS THE BLUEPRINT.
Once my plan was in place, I quickly knew I’d been called to mobilise other amazing purpose-driven female entrepreneurs to go after their dreams, just like I was encouraged and equipped to go after mine. I soon begun working with women, supporting them in chasing their God-sized goals. I’d finally uncovered my wider why and saw how everything I’d experienced, been trained in and volunteered for, had prepared and equipped me for a where I am today.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that if you're reading this, you're called to extraordinary things and that no matter how overwhelmed you're feeling with everything right now, it can absolutely get better, and quickly! I'm passionate about equipping women with the tools and strategies they need to build businesses they never thought possible.
I know that you're capable, I know that you have it on the inside of you. I know that impacting the world is what you have been created for.
I also know that you need a plan in place to get yourself moving. And that's where I come in...
I now work with clients from all over the world and help them to create and scale businesses they LOVE.
Lovely, I know you've had enough of sitting on the sidelines. I know that as you read my story, something began to stir in your heart. Because the truth is, God's reserved you a front row seat you're currently not occupying and I'm here to show you how to get there.
Stop putting it off. If you have God-given hopes and dreams which you know you've been called to live out. You've really got to stop putting them off and start walking into your wider why...
Whether you're still working your 9-5, you're at home raising babies, or you're in a position to put your all into your biz, it's time to do something about it right now!
Imagine if I'd never moved to North London and met my husband. Imagine if, after my redundancy, I'd been too scared to lose the job security of a 9-5 life and had just applied to be a teacher again somewhere else. Every single time I've taken a risk, God has been right there with me, cheering me on!
Are you ready to be bold? Are you ready to leap? You were made for more.
I'm here to support you. Find out more below.
For Naomi's professional bio, please click here.