Posted in Faith, Servant Leadership

What to Do When You’re Overlooked and Undervalued

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Overlooked and undervalued.

Have you ever felt like that? I think it’s a common human condition we all experience to some extent or another. As we go about doing good, working hard to make a difference, it is painful to be ignored or slighted by others.

Perhaps you can relate to some of these scenarios.

  • Your life revolves around raising your family. You make sacrifices to be available to take care of your kids. Other people who work outside the home comment that they wish they could just stay at home like you, because then life would be so much easier.
  • You are seldom asked for input in group meetings. Other people speak freely and are listened to. When you finally manage to speak, or are asked to share an idea, you are interrupted before finishing two sentences.
  • Your company implements an idea that you have mentioned to key leaders several times over the last few years. It has finally been adopted and greatly improves performance, but nobody seems to know where the idea originated.
  • You are dedicated to your job. You stay later than anyone else in the company and do things with excellence. You also contribute to a positive work environment. When an opportunity for advancement comes up, someone who is a bit of a rebel with less experience and loyalty than you is selected.
  • People seek you out for advise and comfort when they are struggling. You are a safe and reliable friend. However, once the crisis is over they don’t need you anymore. They prefer to hang out with their other friends who are more popular, influential, or fun. When you are struggling, they aren’t available, and you don’t know where to turn.

What are we to do when, despite our best efforts, we are not acknowledged for our contributions? For most of us, we aren’t looking for public recognition or praise. We don’t want people to create a scene over our own personal greatness. (If you are among the few who do, this blog won’t really help you.) However, we would like to be noticed and appreciated.

As a woman in ministry, I have been overlooked often and treated with awkwardness (often in but not limited to male dominated settings). My preference to listen to others rather than talk contributes to these situations as well. When feeling insignificant, there are some things I focus on that bring me back to confident footing.

My significance comes from the Lord alone. When it comes right down to it, no human being can determine my worth. Regardless of popular opinion, which can be erratic and capricious, I am a child of God fully accepted and dearly loved by my heavenly Father (1 John 3:1). He takes great delight in me and rejoices over me (Zephaniah 3:17). Nobody can snatch me out of His hand (John 10:28), and nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:35-39).

The Lord has a plan for me. I am not a cosmic accident. The Lord took special care in forming me and placed me on this earth for this time in history (Psalm 139:13-18). He knows the gifts He has given me (Romans 12:4-5) and has assigned me with a specific purpose in His Body, the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). I am a masterpiece, created to do the good works God planned for me long ago (Ephesians 2:10). Even though my life may not look the way I have imagined, I can trust that I am following God’s plan and fulfilling His purpose.

I will recognize and value others. Because I know the pain of being overlooked and undervalued, I want to be aware of others and not contribute to their pain. I want to help break the cycle. Following the second great command, I will love my neighbors as myself (Mark 12:31). I also know the joy of being accepted and loved by Jesus, and want others to experience Him in life-changing ways. By recognizing and valuing others, it is my hope they discover God’s perfect love in personal ways. Bringing it closer to home, I try to acknowledge and praise each of my staff members for a job well done or for sharing good ideas. I try to express appreciation often to my family.

If you wrestle with feeling overlooked and undervalued, I encourage you to establish your identity in Christ. As you become more secured in Him, you can reach out to be a blessing to others.

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God (Ephesians 5:2, NLT).

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34, NIV).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I confess that I often feel insignificant. Help me to be secure in who I am in Christ. May I not hold tightly to the opinions of others, but focus on who You say I am. Help me know that I am doing what You have called me to do for this season of my life. Whether or not I am recognized, empower me to shine for You and make a difference in those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Posted in Faith, Personal Development

You Are So Much More…

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I’m not particularly fond of fish. In fact, as a little girl I had a bizarre nightmare about fish that fueled a fish phobia that lasted into adulthood. Thankfully I have outgrown this childhood fear of fish and in more recent years have begun to take an interest (albeit slight) in them.

Last weekend some friends took my family and me to Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery in Camp Sherman, Oregon. I have been to a few fish hatcheries before, but never really paid much attention. This time I was particularly struck by how many fish there were. Thousands of fingerlings swam around in cement pools, cared for by the staff until they were old enough to transfer to the lake. At the lake, we threw tiny pellets of fish food into the water and watched with amusement at their antics, as they raced to be first for the morsels.

At some point, my focus changed from seeing all the fish, and I began to pay closer attention to the individual fish. Although they were all rainbow trout, I noticed they were various sizes. One had a chunk taken out of his tail. Another had a big white scar on his back. Some fish preferred to swim closely in a school, while a few seemed to be loners. My friend mentioned that the fish in the lake were survivors. Somehow they had avoided being prey for the birds and other native wild life. As I studied each fish, I began to imagine what he would say to me when I asked about his story.

Have you ever felt insignificant, like a fish lost among thousands of other fish? Maybe you don’t relate to this analogy, but please indulge me here. Or perhaps do you wonder if you really matter, as one person on this planet with over seven billion inhabitants? Be assured, you matter to the Lord much more than you think.

 

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Psalm 139:13-18 is often used to defend the sanctity of human life, and rightly so. However, we should also apply it to the precious care the Lord takes for each of us individually.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

Look at the attention our God gave to creating you.

  • The images of “knitting” and “weaving” convey artistry with attention to detail. There are no haphazard accidents here. The Creator has a specific plan in mind.
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your frame fashioned in the secret place is so much more than your physical body. It includes your personality, temperament, abilities, and talents.
  • The Lord ordained each day of your life. He knows the number of your days. He also established you with a purpose and a calling to fulfill.
  • God’s thoughts are vast, and they are about you! If you were “to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” You are always on His mind since before you were conceived. His thoughts toward you are good and loving, filled with the potential for which He designed you.

That’s just the start. Is your God-given splendor beginning to sink in?

I have a challenge for you. Take some time today and reflect on the many ways you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Don’t be modest. Write an honest inventory with as many things that come to mind, but at least five things. Then, like the psalmist, praise God for the amazing ways He has created you.

You are so much more than you realize. As you worship the Lord, He will strengthen you to be all that He designed you to be.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:12-13).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me life and breath. Thank You for creating me with loving care. Help me to acknowledge all the wonderful ways You have made me. Help me to be so much more than I imagine. Use me to fulfill Your plans and purposes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.