Do you believe the lie that you’re not good enough or too old to follow your dreams?  Here’s my story of how God showed me that there’s no life situation that disqualifies you from pursuing God’s purpose for your life.

I even doubted myself because it felt too good to be true    

I don’t think that I’ll ever forget sitting in the back of that Chevy Suburban staring at the Rocky Mountains as the SUV left Denver International Airport.  I was riding with a group of people I had never met before that day.  In fact, we all had just met in the airport after arriving in Denver.  As I watched the mountains grow closer, we traversed I-70 heading west toward Lost Valley Ranch and my first trip to The Writers Well.

The Writers Well is a songwriting retreat created by The Worship Initiative (TWI), the creation of Shane Barnard and Shane Everett.  I was invited to attend after submitting a song to TWI, and I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening.  So, why was I so stunned to be riding along in the back of the SUV with other songwriters?  Because I never dreamed I would be taken so seriously by anyone in the Christian songwriting community, let alone the church worship world.

I never thought I’d sit next to Shane Barnard for a meal, let alone spend three days worshiping with him and other artists from TWI.  I never thought I would meet other songwriters from across the country, and actually write a song with them.  This was a dream trip for me: Songwriting in the mountains of Colorado.

Why did I not believe that I could do these things or have the experiences I was living?  Because I was believing a lie that I was telling myself – I wasn’t good enough and I was too old to be a songwriter of current modern hymns for the Church.  That’s not what God thinks about me, and He had to bring me out to Colorado to remind me of how much I am loved by the Creator.

Sometimes we can be our own worst critic 

Some of you may be thinking: “Wait.  David, you’ve written other articles and told the readers how much God loves them, and you have to be reminded of the same thing?”

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do need to be reminded.  I have to be reminded a lot because I am my own worst critic.  I’m harder on myself than anyone else.  Yet, here was God, patiently waiting for me to finally open my spiritual eyes to see that He wanted me to rest, to worship, and to write.  I had to reject the lie that says “I’m not good enough” or “No one will ever like what I write.”

What lies are you believing about yourself?

Let me tell you another lie I believed about myself.  I have spent most of my life trying to get hired onto a church staff.  I believe that I was called into full time Christian service by God, and that included leading worship every week at a church.  Having grown up in the church and singing or playing in church for most of my life, I have built my life around church music and leading worship.  Everyone in my life while I was growing up thought I would do all of that and more.


The Lies that other people tell you

I married at age twenty-five and to the wrong person.  I married someone who wasn’t supportive of my calling, who didn’t want to see me fulfill my calling, and worked hard to attempt to change who I was and what God had called me to do. When that didn’t work, she worked hard to destroy me as a person, and even to separate me from the children we had together.  Through ten tumultuous years I was emotionally and psychologically attacked, and was even told that because of the sin in my life, I was unfit to step onto a stage at any church and lead worship.

That was a sucker punch to my soul from the person who was supposed to guard my heart.  The attempt to utterly destroy my life came in the form of divorce papers served to me by surprise in my own home.  It almost worked.  Had I not discovered what was on-going outside of our marriage, I would have lost my kids and agreed with her summary of the kind of person that I was, even though not a word of it was true.  It was all a lie meant to cover up what had really been happening in secret right under my nose.

The Lies Life circumstances tell you

For years after my divorce in 2004, I sought church job after church job looking for a place that would hire me for a full time position and give me a chance to be the worship leader God had called me to be.  The denomination that I grew up with turned its back on me and shunned me when it came to being hired.  If I was a failure at leading my family, how could I lead a church music team?  Although divorce within biblical grounds is not an issue with the majority of denominations, with those denominations embracing people who have been divorced, the very word “divorce” brought church search committees I sat in front of to a full stop when they did any preliminary interviews.

I tried for many years to find that full time position.  I kept getting rejected.  In 2019 I sent out over thirty-five resumes to churches in several states searching for a minister of music/worship.  I received two interviews for jobs outside the state of Texas.  Again, rejected when my divorce was brought up.

Imagine trying to follow the calling on your life for thirty years, but being told by church search committees that you’re not qualified.  Many people heard my story, and gave me their condolences.  None ever tried to help.  Think about being given accolades for having a talent and working hard to use it for the glory of God.  Imagine those same people asking “Where do you lead worship?”, as in “you must be at a church on staff someplace” and always having to answer that no church will hire me, and I don’t know why.

The terrible effects of believing lies about myself

Discouragement.  Disappointment.  Low self-worth.  Low self-esteem.  Self doubt.  Believed that I was an outcast in the Kingdom of God.  I believed that the promises of God were for everyone else, and not for me.  I reasoned that God saw me as those church search committees saw me.  I thought that I was indeed too sinful of a person for God to use me and to fulfill the calling He had placed on my life.  I thought it was obvious that God had rescinded His calling, and that I was to live out my life being a seat warmer in the church…if I decided to go back to church.

Oh, yes.  I did have thoughts of just walking away.  I mailed actual letters to prominent pastors asking for help, and telling them that I was ready to walk away from the Church and not go back.  This wasn’t a crisis of faith, this was an identity crisis.  I didn’t know who or what I was supposed to be in the Body of Christ.  Out of the ten letters I mailed out, I received zero replies.

Something had to give.

Where was God?  Why was He silent?  Why did He not answer me and do something?!?

Believing God’s truth changed my mind set and my life

Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor of LifeChurch in Edmond, Oklahoma, wrote the following in his book “Winning the War In Your Mind”:

“Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts. Worrying and toxic thinking will change your brain and move your life in a direction you don’t want to go. Prayer changes your brain and moves your life in a positive direction.”

My brain needed a change.

I started a new project which I titled “The Prayer Project.”  It’s a Google Document that I have with written records of events that have happened to me since 2019.  In those records are things that I have walked through and my prayers to God for those things.  It’s like a journal, except that I don’t write in it daily.  I do, however, use it to record when things happen and how I’m feeling and how God is at work in my life.  I started working on changing the direction of my thinking, so that I could change the direction of my life.

Because I started doing this, I started pointing my focus and attention in the direction of God and His promises to all of us.  Because I started believing what God said about me and changed my thinking, He started working on my heart.  I started trusting God with everything, and even say “God, I trust you” out loud whenever needed.

How God Met me at the Writer’s Well

Trusting in God led me to a night of worship of original songs written over a twenty-four hour period during that unbelievable time at the Writer’s Well retreat.  In the photo on this article I am singing backup vocals and playing a song that was written earlier that day; a song that was born from my grief and the pain of life, and co-written with two men I met the day before.  In fact, this was the first time I had ever played the song.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”  Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.  Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:5-8 ESV)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  “I will not leave you as orphans;  I will come to you.”  (John 14:16-18 ESV)

At the end of the first night’s session in Colorado, Aaron Williams addressed the group and said, “The Holy Spirit is leading me to remind someone in this room that you’re not too old, and that you’re not done until the Father says you’re done.”

Affirming God’s Truth

He won’t leave me.

He is my helper.

He lives within me, and will come again for me those who are called by His name.

I don’t need the validation of any church or congregation to know that God’s calling on my life is real.  I don’t need to believe the lie that said I would never be good enough to serve God in whatever capacity He chose for me.  I don’t need to trust in what other people say.  I only have to believe that the same promises found in the books of Deuteronomy and Hebrews and the Gospel of Luke that say He will not only help me, but will always be with me are true.

“I trust you, Father.”

Are you ready and willing to say the same to the One who loves you unconditionally?

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galations 1:10 ESV)

Prayer to Stop Believing You’re Not Good Enough to Follow Your Dreams

Father God, forgive me for not trusting You completely.  Right now, I give you my trust.  I hand it over to you and will believe every day that You can be trusted with my life, my family, and everything I claim is mine.  It is now all Yours, and yours alone.  Even in awkward situations, when I need to reaffirm to myself that you can be trusted, I will simply say the words out loud: I trust You.  Thank you for the promises You wrote to me and to all of your children.  May we live each day with the secure knowledge that You are all of the confirmation that we need to know that we are loved, accepted, and wanted until the day we are called home or you return to call all of us together.  In the powerful and trustworthy name of Jesus, amen.

Other articles by David Shelton

Finding God’s Presence When Discouraged by Unfulfilled Dreams

Overcoming the Voice of Fear

Prayer When People Let You Down and Life Isn’t Fair

Praying for a Future Spouse after Divorce

Prayer that God Will Use Your Spiritual Struggles and Failures as a Humble Witness of His Grace

Copyright 2023 © David E. Shelton.  All rights reserved.

David Shelton