I honestly never thought I’d be in a position to go after my hopes and dreams because fear constantly got in the way.
I grew up going to church. However, after leaving for university and trying to find my own way in the world, I spent a few years in total wilderness. I got my degree and that was around about the same sort of time I came back to faith. I was 21 when I found myself walking back through the doors of the church I'd not set foot in for three years. I was lovingly led back to the Lord and signed up for their gap year that very summer. Taking that gap year instead of going for a 'regular' graduate job was my first big risk - and it totally changed the course of my life.
When I finished my church gap year, this former party girl had become passionate about God – like crazy, on fire passionate for Him! But then, it was a matter of ‘what next?’ I was supposed to ‘adult’ now, right? I had a tiny hope that I’d be able to work with young people as a youth worker – telling them about Jesus and helping them to recognise just how amazing they were because God said so. I'd just spent this incredible year with my church learning all about who I truly was and I was desperate to help other people know that truth. I was young and so I figured that talking to teenagers about this truth was the best fit for me at the time. But there was a lot of risk around that. I’d have to leave my church (which had been home for number of years) and I’d have to settle for a less-than income (and I wasn’t sure I could with London rental prices).
So I didn’t follow through! I mean, I got as far as filling in an application form for a local youth worker role which was recommended to me but…
I also filled in one for a teacher training course too. I told myself that seeing as I’d still be working with young people, it was along the same sort of lines… kind of.
I qualified as a teacher and then taught in secondary 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 'full time faith' based 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 took my next 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 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 a church staff team! We prayed about making the big decision to move and all that came with it (pay-cuts, as I'd only be working at the church part time, and 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 was made redundant.
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.
Would you believe me if I told you that 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? Well, for me, God opened two doors!
As well as having the privilege to minister on my church staff team, I finally got 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 a story and Truth which needed to be shared.
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’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.
Until I found myself pretty intrigued by one coach, mainly because she'd often mention God in her posts. She’d write that sometimes she would pray for a breakthrough in her business or ask God for guidance with a client etc. and it got my attention. A Christian who wasn’t afraid to say that she was an entrepreneur with big goals!
So I invested.
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, 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. My coached dared me to dream bigger for myself and I accepted that challenge with open arms!
I then 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. I knew I wanted to mobilise other amazing Christian female entrepreneurs to go after their dreams, just like I was encouraged to. I now work with clients from all over the world and help them create and scale businesses they LOVE. Even after just one or two calls...
I'm finally able to do what I've wanted to do ever since I finished my gap year - equip people with the truth that Jesus has BIG things for their real, everyday lives, if only they'd muster up their faith & dare to dream bigger... And then I get to help them live it. This is my god-given wider why, and it always has been.
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 signed up for that gap year. 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.