I’ve Been Put On The Shelf

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Blog, Gary | 24 comments

Put on a shelf

I received these honest and relatable thoughts from two different individuals a day apart.

“I feel heavy, depressed and weighed down at work. The only thing I’m interested in is spirituality, God and anything to do with God, I devour books on God, but I can’t see my vein of gold in all of this. Do you have any suggestions, anything I should be doing to get to the core of what I’m to do?”

“I am so far from my heart right now, I feel like I’m on life support…I don’t feel ‘alive’ anymore.  I’ve tried so many careers, always ending the same, they just don’t fit ‘me’.  As soon as I master them I grew disinterested.  I really want to express God’s glory to the world, I just feel worthless and put on the shelf, dusty and unmoved.”

Here is my reply:

Breakthrough, not breakdown

The first thing I want to say is that you are not alone in this state of confusion and discouragement.  Rather than this being a problem that you’ve created, perhaps it is a holy-dissatisfaction that comes with your new life in Christ. With a heightened awareness that you were created by God to bring something of significance, beauty and strength to this world, you will never be completely satisfied with any position or place.

Ultimately, we don’t want our life to be a job description, but rather a mission, a unique contribution to something that really matters, our God-given capability (who we truly are).  Only God can guide us through our holy dissatisfaction into our true mission.

As we grow into the person we were designed to be (in capability and character), our position / place / assignment will adjust because we have become more and better.

So, don’t interpret your disinterest and discouragement with work as “there must be something wrong with me” or “I must have missed it”.  Take it as God’s invitation to more, as you are becoming more.  Perhaps your present sense of “depression” and “worthlessness” is a sign of your heart’s awareness of God’s invitation to the next thing that He is preparing you for and about to show you.  View this as a precursor to breakthrough, not breakdown.

Awareness, not Absence

Secondly, it’s not a question of, why hasn’t God given me desires that reveal who I truly am and what I bring to this world.  It’s a question of, what’s blocking my awareness of those desires and God’s voice.  There is never a simple, straight-forward answer to this question because there are usually many things at play.

  • The health of your heart (your soul, the real you, your inner life)
  • The confluence of all the events of your life (things said to you, things done to you, your experiences) and the resulting beliefs of your heart.
  • The assault against your life and calling (spiritual warfare, worldly warfare and fleshly warfare)
  • The timing and training of God
  • The discovery and deepening process

So, it’s not the absence of desire that you’re struggling with, it the awareness of desire and what it means.  Give it time and careful examination, like an archaeologist uncovering artifacts with a small shovel, brush and a journal.  Panic or desperation can cause us to overlook or damage important pieces.

Here are a few things that might increase your awareness:

  • Put on your oxygen mask – give your heart some breathing space – some rest and rejuvenation.  Do something you enjoy for a few hours or a few days.  Take a break on your calling quest.
  • Wear a heart monitor – stay alert to your heart’s reaction to everyday situations: conversations, environments, tasks, TV shows/movies, books and people.  Then ask God what your excitement, anger, boredom, jealousy, enthusiasm or disengagement with these things was about.
  • Take a survey – Ask a few close friends, what you were doing or saying when you seemed most alive, most dialed-in.
  • Play CSI – write down and analyze all the data you receive from the things I mentioned above.
  • Get sequestered – get alone with God and let Him speak without competing or interrupting voices.

Consistent and Unpredictable

Graham Cooke said that God is consistent (in character) and unpredictable (in actions) and we tend to be inconsistent and predictable.  I find this to be true, on both accounts.  So, let me encourage you to be consistent in “asking, seeking and knocking” and watch for God to be consistent in “giving, finding and opening” in unpredictable ways. (Matt. 7:7)


PS. I encourage you to watch Discovering Your Calling video series

Video: The Design on Your Life


24 Responses to “I’ve Been Put On The Shelf”

  1. Gary, thanks so much for the encouragement. I could have easily written either one of those letters you received. When I’m feeling the discontent so heavily, it’s so easy to go to “I’m just blowing it,” as opposed to remembering the warfare and the significance of what God is calling me to. Your suggestions are constructive, practical and hopeful. Thanks again.

  2. Terrific post. Thanks.

    There are many days I feel dusty, on a shelf, and on my own.

    Good encouragement.

  3. Valerie Condron says:

    God’s timing is perfect. This is the 2nd communication I have received today saying the same thing…I have been beating myself up for a long time and have even sought counseling thinking I was doing something wrong. WOW. Thank you Gary for sharing God’s heart with me.

  4. Richard McAlister says:

    Sage advise oh Jedi Master! We must always be on alert to what God is up to, our own space at the moment and what the enemy is up to. And, all of this is sometimes difficult in this crazy paced thing we call life. Thanks for keeping us focused!!!

  5. Scott Wilson says:

    Gary, I’m where they are too. My new job is what was suppose to be. I’ve really put effort in hearing the Holy Spirit in the last couple of weeks. I don’t feel anything coming from him. Every time I do wrong I feel I was sent to the back of the line again. Thanks for this word, you’re doing Great things for God’s people.

    • Scott Wilson says:

      Correction – My isn’t what what it was suppose to be.

    • Scott, how much does your current job require or utilize your God-given/create effect, weightiness, strength? 30%, 50%, 70%? Do you feel like you have to be someone else at work?

      • Scott Wilson says:

        It’s just they might be downsizing already. And what they have me doing is not what I was initially hired to do. The original job task I was hired would have used my calling gift more than what they have me doing now. You’ve taught me our profession and our calling is not one in the same, but I have less chance of using my gift right now.

        • In the belief / trust that God is orchestrating your life, He could have you there because:
          – Some of those people working there are going to need you – it may be more about them than the company
          or / and
          – God is equipping you with the wisdom/perspective of an experience that will be needed later
          or / and
          – This assignment may be the doorway into the next assignment
          Scott, I’ll be praying that God reveals what he is up to in all of this.

  6. Nigel Mohammed says:

    The darkest hour is right before the dawn as they say. I think what is so very common, with men in particular is that it is virtually our default to allow our hearts to be buried beneath resignation. Then we are aligned to mere survival, getting through. One of the key points you made here Gary for me anyway was ‘Breakthrough or Breakdown’. Reading your reply is from someone so clearly living in the ‘sweetspot’ as you Americans say. Your advice is like rare gems, in particular ‘wear your heart monitor’ and the ways to do that, absolutely priceless. I am so deeply grateful that you followed His call Gary. In Christ our Lord. Nigel

    • Nigel, good words about this and encouraging words for me. Thank you.

      • Jerry Goddard says:

        Nigel, you said “I am so deeply grateful that you followed His call Gary. In Christ our Lord. Nigel”

        I agree with you… that Gary followed His call.
        And “In Christ our Lord”, will be your ever present help in time of need.

        • I keep hearing the Evanescence song with the line”wake me up inside”. To everything. Changed jobs, moved a couple of years ago. The kids have settled in, but my wife and I are parched and dry. Tried several church and small group situations, but they’ve run aground. Appreciate your words. We’re choosing God, as if blind, holding on in survival mode, trying to shake it, battling through it looking for joy again.

          • Tom, that’s a lot of change. Sometimes we just need to stop pursuing and catch our breath, so that we can continue pursuing for the long haul. “Parched and dry” are strong, descriptive words. I’d say your priority should be to address that condition first – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:24) I know that you know this.

  7. Jerry Goddard says:

    Gary, thanks for that. You cut through a lot of stuff and touched deeply where I live.
    I spent time on the phone today with a believing woman involuntarily involved in a bitter civil law suit. She also got word today that her mother has maybe a week of life left. She is looking for some stability, equilibrium, answers to the “whys”. I sent her the web address to this blog. Thanks for the wisdom and stability in this really troubled world.

  8. Hi Gary have a really desire to help people see the true love of God and have had this desire for along while feel discourage not finding how to bring that desire out of my heart and now have found your website.After listen is your calling videos have help encourage me to truly find peace in my calling.
    Love in Christ Daniel

  9. Mark Wager says:

    Thanks, Gary. That is sage advice. Breakthrough and awareness… Seems like they need to go hand in hand. Good insight. One feeds the other. May God give us all both!

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