Wallowing or Ministering?

by Ava Pennington

The party was in full swing. I had arrived early and was determined to be the last to leave. That wouldn’t be difficult, since I was the only person there.

I can party with the best of them. And I’m especially adept at hosting and attending my own pity parties. It’s easy to feel sorry for myself, especially when I’ve been wronged or falsely accused. My natural inclination is to be defensive or sulk at the injustice of my circumstances, all the while wallowing in self-pity. Either way, the party’s on.

The writing life is also not exempt from pity parties. Disappointment over not meeting with the editor we requested at a conference. Discouragement over not getting an agent or a book contract. Doubting opportunities will arise since they haven’t yet.

Then I think of Joseph. If anyone had a right to a pity-party, it was Joseph. First, his brothers sold him as a slave. Then his new master falsely accused him of sexual misconduct and threw him into a foreign prison. Joseph had no clue as to how long he’d be there—perhaps until his death. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, he worked as a trustworthy representative of the prison keeper.

Even more surprising, Joseph looked past the injustice of his own situation to help someone else (Genesis 40:6-7). He noticed the dejection of his fellow prisoners and inquired about their situation. Joseph didn’t realize it at the time, but in assisting his fellow prisoners he was preparing the way for the fulfillment of God’s plan for his own release.

Joseph is a powerful example to me—a reminder to look beyond my own disappointments so God can use me to minister to others.

So as you prepare for conference season, are you willing to see beyond your own disappointments? Will you look for someone else who needs encouragement? Will you trust God’s timing in the face of doubt and discouragement? Consider asking fellow conferees about their writing journey. You might even find a new accountability or critique partner!

When we put others’ needs ahead of our own, God works miraculously in our life…and then through our life to touch the lives of others. And who knows? Perhaps someday God will use the person you encouraged to encourage you!

Are you wallowing or ministering?

Ava Pennington is thoroughly enjoying her second career as an author, teacher, and speaker.

She moved from New York to Florida, leaving a twenty-year corporate career as a Human Resources executive. But don’t call her retired! She now teaches a weekly, interdenominational Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 300+ women from September through May.

Of course, Ava writes. She has written for organizations such as Focus on the Family, Christianity Today, and Haven Ministries. She has also been published in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Her book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is published by Revell Books and endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precepts International.

Ava has also co-authored two children’s picture books, Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today?

If you’re looking for a speaker, she delights in challenging audiences with relevant, enjoyable presentations.

For more information, please visit www.AvaWrites.com.

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