By Amanda Eicher
Have you ever tried to do something that just wasn’t you? Only to find you really had no business doing it in the first place? I just did this and it wasn’t fun. I volunteered to be in charge of decorating for a major event. When I told my husband I volunteered to do this, he laughed and said “Stay in your lane, Eicher.” He’s absolutely right. Decorating is not my lane. Not even close.
Have you ever found yourself running in a lane that you should not be in? Do you even know what lane you should be running in?
I’ve been thinking about lanes for several months. More specifically, I’ve been asking the Lord what my lane is and how I can represent him in that lane.
I ran on the track team in High School. During each meet, I competed in three different relays. My job was to start the race and get a good lead right away. Our relay team would practice for weeks preparing for the race. I had to practice getting out of the blocks over and over. Day after day our coach would remind us to stay in our lane and to do our job well. If we stepped out of lane, we were disqualified, which I did once. It was terrible.
So many times as leaders (in the church, in the business world, in our homes, etc), we run races. Whether we are running a long marathon, a short sprint, or a team relay, we are running races. It’s the race set out for us by the Lord (Check out these verses; Acts 20:24, Hebrews 12:1, or read the book of Acts, Paul had quite the race).
We have a lane to run in the race. My coach knew what lane I needed to be in, he knew the position that would work best for me, he knew where I would thrive. He knew my strengths and my weaknesses.
How often do we try to run in a lane that’s not for us? Or play a position we weren’t made to play? I often struggle to be ok with the way God made me. I try to be someone I’m not. I try to preach like Beth Moore. I try to pray like Heidi Baker. I try to…well, you get the picture. When I was a teenager, I tried to dunk like Lisa Leslie (the first woman I knew of that could dunk and played in the WNBA). I am 5 foot 5 inches. I will never be able to dunk like Lisa Leslie. And I won’t preach like Beth Moore or pray like Heidi Baker.
Here’s why I won’t do any of those things: I am Amanda Eicher. I am unique. I have my own set of gifts, personality, experiences, talents, calling, etc. I was made to be me. Not a WNBA basketball player (a girl can dream). Not Beth Moore. Not Heidi Baker. I have to be me. God didn’t ask me to run in their lane. He asked me to run in mine.
Paul says it so well in Romans 12:6-8
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
I need to stop trying to be someone else and focus on who I am. If I’m a starter, I need to do it with passion. If I’m a middle runner, I need to run steady and strong. If I’m a finisher, I need to run with all my might in the lane God has set for me.
I love the story Jesus tells in Matthew 25. It’s the story of a master and his servants. The master was going away, but decided to leave his resources to his servants to steward while he was gone. In the Bible they are called “talents”. He gave to each of the servants according to their ability, to one he gave 5 talents, to another he gave 2 talents and to the third he gave 1 talent. The one who was given five, took the talents and used them to gain five more. The one with two, took the talents and used them to gain two more. But the servant who had one, dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s talent. When the master came back, he asked each servant what he did with the talents he gave them. Look at his response to the two that multiplied their talents:
Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
The King James Version says “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
When the servants took what the master had given them and were faithful to use and invest them, they were given the right to enter into the joy of the Lord. I love that! When I serve God and I’m faithful with what he has given me, I am given the right to enter into His joy. He gives me joy.
Let’s look for a second on what the servant who hid his talents lost. He didn’t hear the master say “well done good and faithful servant.” He didn’t get the invitation to come and share his master’s happiness and he was thrown out into total darkness. That’s a lot to lose!
I tried for many years to “hide” something God had put in me. I was insecure. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know how to run in my lane. It has taken years for me to learn to be secure in who I am and confident in the woman he has made me to be. I am still dealing with this. When I feel insecure, it’s because I haven’t been close to my “coach”; the one who made me, the one who knows me, the one who has a plan for me. The closer I get to Him and am in communion with Him, the easier it is for me to represent Him.
One morning before church, I was in my prayer room going over my notes. My seven year old daughter came in and asked “What are you doing mom?” I said “I’m going over my notes. I’m preaching this morning at church.” She looked at me with big eyes and a smile on her face and asked “Girls can preach?” My response was “Oh yes, girls can preach.” She walked away with a new hope and fire in her heart. As her mother, I see it in her. I see her gifting, her passions, her talents. I don’t want her to hide them, I want her to use them. It brings me great joy. I just sat and thought about that truth after she left the room. When I run in the lane God calls me to run in, it brings Him great joy. When I hide who I am, I am hiding the treasures that He put inside of me to invest in the kingdom. I don’t want to hide His treasure. I want to invest and multiply them.
This is not always easy. In fact, sometimes it can be very hard. We compare. We feel insecure. We get negative feedback. Some people even question who we are and say negative things. These struggles make us want to quit, give up, hide our talents. At times, we feel ready to quit the race God set out in advance for us to run. When I struggle with these things, I ask the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart and he gently reminds me “You be you. I have called you to be Amanda, with the gifts and calling that I have prepared for you in advance. Represent me well. Stay in your lane.” After that pep talk, I get back in my race, I get back in my lane. I stay true to who God has made me to be and I enter into the joy of the Lord.
What is your lane? How has God made you? How can you represent him well? Find your lane and stay in it. Focus on who God made you to be, how He calls you to lead and what you can do to honor Him in your lane. Maybe the first step for you is to spend some time with your maker. God has a race for all of us. Run in such a way to get the prize. At the end of my race, when I stand before the Lord, I want to be able to say to Him “I used all that you gave me, I invested it in the kingdom and I represented you to the best of my ability.” And I want to hear Him say, like the master did to his servants, “Well done good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of the Lord.”