I recently watched a video of a street singer in Asia who was privileged to sing alongside a renowned musician who happened to be strolling the streets right before a major concert tour in that city. This was clearly a case of being in the right place at the right time. After doing the cover to a famous 80’s song, the well-known musician asked this emerging artist if he would be willing to sing at his concert- giving him a 20-25 minute set.

His kind gesture warmed my heart and brought to my mind wise counsel a music mentor recently offered me: “Don’t forget that your gift will open doors for you and you need to be ready when that happens.” In other words, do not be found unprepared when opportunity comes knocking.

Unfortunately, when we are working hard and putting in many hours into our craft, without much gain, the above statement can sound like a cliché. With a dream in your heart and no way of realizing the vision God has given you, feelings of despondency may arise. However, I believe that the one who says, “I know the plans I have for you,” {Jeremiah 29:11} is intentional and desires to bring all the good things that He has promised you to pass. But what should we do in the meantime?

1) Sharpen your axe

I imagine that the street musician experienced rejection, but he continued to present his art where everyone could hear him. I imagine that he had to prepare a repertoire of songs prior to his street performances. I also imagine that he had to work on his guitar and voice. He could not afford to just show up.

In the same way, whatever field of work that you have been assigned to needs your time and commitment, sharpening that skill. As you continue to faithfully sharpen your axe, God will establish the work of your hands {Psalm 90:17, Hebrews 6:10}. This is a constant reminder: when God calls you, it is your responsibility to show up strong and ready, having done all you can “…to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed…” {2nd Timothy 2:15}

2) Ask the Master Planner

Time and again, the bible provides examples of ordinary people who waited on God for a specific course of action. The list is endless: Joshua {Joshua 6:2-5} David {1st Chronicles 14:14-16}, Moses {Numbers 20:1-8}, the disciples {Luke 24:49} and on and on. Each time, God was faithful to them and gave them a strategy to win if they obeyed.

Like in biblical times, I believe that God desires to share with us the plans on His heart- for our lives and the world around us. What strategy is God giving you that will propel you to success and ultimately draw people into the Kingdom of God? It could be a business idea that solves a major problem, a song that causes others to run to Him, or a book, or a play…whatever it is, trust that when you ask the Master Planner, He will answer you!

3) Do not compare

Life is already difficult enough without us having to compare ourselves to others. The assignments that God has for us are so unique that no two people can do the exact same thing. If we believe that deeply, we are set free from trying to be like another human being.

To give an example from music, every instrument in the orchestra has a different timbre or sound. If the violins marched out of a concert hall because they did not sound like the cello, which instrument could possibly replace the high registers the violins reach? But together, all the instruments play an important role of bringing out the sound intended by a composer.

In the same way, God is orchestrating a wonderful masterpiece, but He is asking you to be you. Comparison will only lead to discouragement and the death of your dream and God’s purpose in your life.

Ultimately, “the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” {Ecclesiastes 9:11}. Recognize that promotion comes from God; resist the urge to lift yourself. Continue to faithfully sharpen your axe, seek the master planner and renounce comparison.