Emma Sharma, Founder and Principal of Swallowtail Group, shares from the heart about times when her faith outweighed her doubts and she was able to push through the “self-doubt talk” in her head to run towards God’s perfect plan for her. And the best part? YOU can learn to do this, too!
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But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”Exodus 3:11
My hand paused as I was about to sign a contract for a venue for a major event. For a split second, I could sense sweat beads on my forehead and that ‘so familiar’ sensation in the pit of my stomach: Cold panic. Fear. Self-doubt.
Just a few days earlier, I had heard the Lord say: ‘Move out. Launch.’ After consulting with both my spiritual director and executive coach, I had no doubt: God was saying: “GO!” In that moment, so many apparent obstacles were overcome by His voice and the clear call to action I had been waiting to hear for some time: ‘But God: this was supposed to happen next year? I’ve not planned to move out this quickly? I’m not ready. This contract requires me to pay a substantial deposit right now and I have yet to launch a website, prepare marketing materials, or line up a single paying customer.’
Yet, in that moment – the moment of hearing God’s voice – my faith outweighed the doubts.
Moses’ cold feet were not without some justification. After all, he had murdered an Egyptian oppressor and hidden the body. Before long witnesses called out his behavior, causing him to fear exposure and run away… right into his God-given purpose. While tending sheep, God spoke to him through the burning bush: ‘Our people in Egypt are oppressed as slaves. I want to rescue them and lead them to an incredible land flowing with abundance.’ Yet, Moses doubted his ability to do what God was asking him. Right in the face of this miracle. The voice of the Almighty speaking right from the center of a bush of flames. ‘Not me Lord. I’m not equipped for this.’ Sound familiar?
I think we all encounter these moments when what we know to be true, our Master’s voice, is overcome by the negative messages that this world (or the enemy) wants us to believe instead. It’s easy to lose focus and doubt ourselves. However, doubt is a killer. It robs us of our dreams, convinces us that we cannot fulfill our calling, causes us to tremble despite scripture assuring us that “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) and that “nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37)
So, what do we do when self-doubt strikes? How do we turn ourselves back around?
First, let’s remind ourselves of just who our God is. He doesn’t call us to do anything without providing everything we need to fulfill His purposes successfully. He doesn’t call the equipped. He equips those who are called. He parted the Red Sea so that Moses could ultimately lead the Israelites to safety; He rescued Daniel from the Lions’ mouths; He turns up over and again in scripture to save His people and prophets from destruction. Let’s be clear: Ultimately, not even death itself could defeat Him. He hasn’t changed. He’s the same God “yesterday, today and forever”. When faced with any kind of fear or self-doubt, pick up the bible and go chapter by chapter until you are encouraged and fortified by the stories of His authority and power over anything we could possibly be asked to handle. God is also the originator of all stretch goals. Why? So that we are required to rely on Him, or partner with the one “who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). If we could do it all, alone, we wouldn’t need Him and there would be no opportunity to grow our faith or a deeper relationship with Him!
Testimonies are a powerful way to remind ourselves that, what God has done once, He will do again. Revelation 12: 11 instructs us that “they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony”. When we recall what God has done previously, we release the power for victory over our current struggles. Very recently, I was advising a client who was caught in a situation that, without God, would almost certainly seem impossible. Rather than capitulating to defeat in a moment of stress, I forced myself to recall all the times during my corporate career that I had faced an impossible giant and seen God show up in miraculous and unexpected ways. On reflection I started to realize that many of those prior situations were even more challenging than the one my client was facing now. Hope and faith started to rise again in the room as we celebrated God’s steadfast goodness repeatedly.
Nothing turns a mood around like a thankful heart. Worshipping the Lord with statements of ‘I am thankful for…’ recalibrates our attitude and reminds us that He is a good God who created us in His image (Genesis 1) with a clear purpose and plan for our good and not for evil (Jeremiah 29). Paul exhorts the Thessalonian church to “be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It’s hard to have any doubt in God or yourself when you are in a posture of gratitude.
Confidence grows when we lean into a community hallmarked by encouragement and that has our back no matter what we are called to do, or what we face. In the garden at Gethsemane, Jesus faced the enormity of what was about to happen: betrayal by one of those closest to Him; a tortuous, unjust death at the hands of corrupt political leaders; separation from God (his loving Father) while he descended into Hell itself to redeem mankind for eternity knowing that many would never appreciate His sacrifice. Peter, John, and James were alongside Him as – momentarily – His heart buckled under the weight of His destiny. Even though He would face death alone, in that moment of need He was surrounded by loved ones.
As I transitioned into this new season of my life, I maintained courage by leaning on this community at 4word and by walking with other Kingdom-minded businesspeople on a daily basis. Through coaching sessions, masterminds, chains of encouraging text messages, I was continually encouraged to stay in the race and keep my eyes fixed on completing the tasks that God has assigned to me. I am blessed to receive daily reminders of what God had called me to do and what His word says about that. It would have been so much harder to keep going without my tribe!
Self-doubt will plague all of us from time to time, especially as we stride into our life’s true purposes and start to stretch ourselves in new ways. It’s a normal emotion when faced with challenges and it’s not a sin to feel that way. Instead let self-doubt be a wonderful reminder to press even deeper into the One on whose behalf we are being called, and to trust HIS faith in you. After all, He specifically created you for this very reason and He knows what He’s doing!
Emma is the Founder and Principal of Swallowtail Group and a global business executive known for her entrepreneurship, strong empathetic leadership style, courage and skill in taking on messy challenges. Emma has a proven track record in complex organizational transformations and a natural talent for pulling together high value creation teams. Additionally, Emma’s passion for organizational design, psychology, and development led her to pioneer mentoring and leadership development initiatives for fellow executives and senior managers throughout her career. Emma has a growing reputation as a solid and passionate advocate on mental health issues that impact the workforce, especially at executive leadership levels.
Emma is very active in the community, both nationally and locally. Recently, Emma was appointed to the Advisory Board of the Center for Government Contracting at George Mason University, serving as a thought leader on industry matters. Emma serves actively on the Board of 4word, a national, faith-based non-profit that supports women in the marketplace in growing with confidence to meet their full potential. Previously Emma served as the President of the Board of Trustees of an influential non-profit in Northern Virginia for six years and worked for several years as an ambassador for two global non-profits providing micro-financing for women in developing nations and addressing human trafficking issues.
Outside of work, Emma is a devoted wife and mom to two young children and an active member of Holy Trinity Church, McLean. Her hobbies include a passion for travel, learning about great food and wine, music (she is a classically trained soprano), movies, and reading.
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