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Hi, I'm Brooke! I'm a believer, wife, mama to two, Oklahoma photographer, and photography business coach.
I help photographers grow profitable full-time businesses from home.
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Surrendering your business & how to practically trust God with Stefanie Gass; this is the final episode of the Faith-filled Business Series of the Book More Clients Photography Podcast.
We are wrapping up this incredible Faith-filled Business Series; today’s conversation, is going to help us round out and bring everything back full circle. So, when we first released the Faith-filled Business Series, we talked about surrender with Michelle Hiatt, and we’re gonna go right back to talking about surrender today with Stefanie Gass.
Stef: Who am I? I am a business coach who is really focused on faith first. I help women get clear on their calling so that they can start an online business God’s way. Helping them figure out what their thing is because we all have a thing. Every single one of you, you have a thing and for a lot of you, it’s photography or it’s some type of service-based business. You know your thing, it’s a vocational call in your life, that’s partnered with spiritual giftings, and it’s partnered with your experiences, your trials and triumphs.
One thing people come to me often, and they’re like, I’m so sick of social media. So, I help women build their business through podcasting. I’m also married, have little two little turkey children, and I drink too much coffee. So, that’s me, here in my PJs, always in my comfies; sometimes with a LaCroix instead of coffee.
Brooke: That is so you. Yes. Another thing to add to what you do and who you are, is through following your business and faith model, you achieve freedom. I feel free to scale back, to show up when I want to, to pass on my worries and anxieties of tomorrow and just live in today. So, a lot of what you give comes with the byproduct of freedom.
A lot of us lack that, we just don’t have that space, and a lot of that comes with surrendering. Let’s surrender our businesses to what God is calling us to do, even as every season looks different.
I want to hear a little bit of how you surrendered your business, Stef? Then, how can we serve? What does that even mean to surrender your business?
When we start out, as an online business owner, or a physical business owner, we have this objective in our mind of “we are not successful until we make blank amount of money, till I have blank number of clients”. We start out focused on an end result, an unseen end result of making X amount of money, or X amount of whatever, a rank, etc. That’s what the world has, that’s what they’ve spoken over us “you’re successful when”.
So, I did that, I built a top 1% network marketing business. I didn’t consult God, I was far from God at that time in my life. All the while, now looking back, it’s so clear that the enemy was whispering in my ear the whole time, “more”, but when it’s for them, the enemy is a deceiver. He’s hiding behind a facade of sweet whispers. He’s whispering sweet nothings into your ear and telling you that you’re doing everything for them, and it’s worth it.
I believed those lies because I didn’t invite God into the business. Instead, I was following the whispers of the enemy all the way up the success ladder until I fell off and that ladder got pushed over. And I had a full out breakdown because I had built success at the expense of my marriage, my kids, everything. I was having anxiety attacks, the way I was treating my body was awful.
Why was it all gone overnight just like that? Because I built it the world’s way. I hustled until I broke down. The truth is, when you hustle the world’s way, you’re always gonna believe broken, beaten, and lying on the floor going, what did I do wrong? You’re gonna think that you’re a failure. I have seen it in client after client after client. Every week, I made it, but I don’t feel more fulfilled. I’m not happier, my marriage and my health are in a worse place. I thought this money would solve everything.
At that moment, at that breakdown, you have two choices. Choice one is: I’m going to get up and I’m going to hustle again. I’m going to get back what I lost, and you partner with the enemy again, and you chase after social media likes, more money, the next rank, etc.
There’s freedom today from this path. The other option is you get up and you say I’m done. I’m going to surrender the way in which I think I have to build, what I think is the outcome, because that’s what we think we need is to know the outcome. The truth is we’ll never know the outcome. We only know the next step. God will only speak to you the next step often, and sometimes he gives you a vision. But he’s not going to tell you the outcome.
We can get up and decide. So, at this moment, there was nothing left, I was fully stripped down, and I had a choice. And I chose Jesus and I said, “Lord, I’ve been far from you for that I repent, I love you. I’m so sorry”. And, I continued, “I need you to be my friend, counselor, father, boss, CEO; I need you to be everything in my life because I am failing”.
Brooke: SO GOOD. I guarantee you more people can relate to that story than not. I also climbed my way up a MLM, all the way to 1% and it was never enough you know, the person above you is saying, “alright, let’s get to the next one, let’s make more money, more and more and more”.
What a lot of us chase is to fill a void that nothing on this side of heaven is going to be able to fulfill and I have seen this over and over and over again. The first place I run to when I’m broken is let’s work, let’s hustle, let’s make money, etc. because I enjoy business, that’s where I run. The second thing is, I look at my life and I think, “oh, I don’t feel like I’m enough in business, in my marriage, in my motherhood, there’s a void there.
That void, it’s God, that is that ache and you will always have that. So, if you’re someone that chases after your identity in motherhood, you’re going to come up with a void every single time if you’re not going back into your relationship with God. This took me a decade to figure out. A decade.
The other thing you said, Stef was that the world screams at us, you are enough. We need to realize, we’re not, we were not created to be enough because God is our Creator, He created us for relationship. If we’re lacking that relationship, you’re going to feel like you’re not enough. It’s the void thing again.
The world is all about this self-love and put yourself first and you, you and quite honestly, that’s a big fat lie. That is deception at its finest, so pay attention. If someone tells you that you can do it all by yourself, you can carry the weight of the world…run. Run the other direction as fast as you can.
The last thing that you said, Stef, that really sat with me was sometimes the undoing is the recreating, and I tried real hard not to break down and cry. I told you I’m in a season where I feel like everything has been stripped and on a clean slate or going to a new level. A lot of what I was putting my identity in who I was putting my identity in that kind of thing. My comfort zone has been completely stripped away, and I feel vulnerable. So, I just I love that idea of where you might be if you’re in a season similar to me is the undoing is really the recreating and how it’s such a gift.
The Bible says that it is a gift when you go through trials, and when you have to endure things. And surrendering is such a gift, too because a lot of you are at the end of your rope. You’re even considering giving up, “why do this anymore, it’s been failure after failure”.
Stef, what encouragement do you have for them?
Stefanie: When you talked about obedience right there, which is exactly what you’re doing, Brooke; you’re hearing this whisper of, “daughter, you’re not this comfort zone, and you’re not what this person says, you’re not this identity”.
Everything inside of us screams with discomfort, “no, I am, I have to be, I don’t know who I am without it”.
And the constant, but quiet whisper is, “be obedient, trust me”.
It made me think of Jeremiah 7:23, “obey my voice and I will be your God and you shall be my people and walk in all the way that I command you. That it may be well with you. And the promise here is clear. Obey my command and it will be well with you”
There’s another side to this discomfort, experience discomfort for a little while. Afterwards you shall experience the fruits and the things. The point is, in every season where I felt that way and everything inside me screamed to run back to the comfort zone, God is whispering and he’s tugging at your heart, lay it down. Through the obedience of you doing that, he’s going to bless you with something bigger and better for you.
Brooke: So, the way that you described a lot of that is blind faith. You have to believe what you can’t see. We can’t rely on our feelings. The way you feel about your business is not the reality. You have to look at the data and again, look back at the promise because your feelings are lying to you every single day. So, with that major concept there, for someone that is struggling through, “this is hard, but I do want to be steadfast, and to stay the course”.
What can they practically do to hold on to that promise so tight that they don’t let go of it, even when it is hard.
Stefanie: I love that Brooke brought up feelings and emotions because here’s the truth, you’re gonna finish reading this & be like: “I’m here, love, refine me”. And five minutes later, something is gonna come up, or you’re gonna see those crickets in the inbox and you’re right back to those feelings and emotions. That quiet whisper whether it’s the enemy, your thoughts or people in your life, coming against you to say, “you’re a failure, you can come back to the comfort zone or come back to the idle”. You have to put on the armor of God, first of all, and understand, you’re not going to just get this. It’s a daily battle. Brooke and I are still battling this every single day.
You figured out how this works in your business, faith, surrender, trust and obedience. Well, now all of a sudden, I’m over here in my marriage working on stuff, where I have work to do or in my motherhood or in friendships, or with my being offended by stuff. We all have crap, that’s gonna keep coming up. Every single day, you grab your crap, and you set it in front of you, get your thoughts out of your head. Thats the first thing you can do is get it out. From there you go to Scripture, allow God’s word to speak truth to you.
I want you to activate your prayer life. I want you to put a sticky note on your compute, phone, or wherever, somewhere you are all the time that just says, “Pray, actively pray”. This is weird when you’re getting started. Because you think, what do you mean? Don’t I have to get dressed up for the Lord and be like, “Heavenly Father” at night before I go to bed? No. God is your best friend.
He can handle you sitting there doing dishes, crying into the soapy water saying, “Lord, I’m so triggered by this thing. Please help me”. He knows you; he already knows that bundle of stuff that you set in front of him in the morning. And he wants to help you but he’s waiting for you to ask. He’s waiting for you to surrender it to him so that he can give you something in return; the resilience, strength, perspective, Scripture, Godly mentorship, whatever it is, and so prayer needs to become habit, you’ve got to do it until you don’t think about it anymore.
This means every day; you have notes and reminders. You’re practicing, and there’s no right or wrong way to pray. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become, the more audacious you’ll become, and start seeking the Lord and everything. So that’s on a daily basis, what you can do.
On a monthly basis, I would give yourself an hour to do a full inventory of your heart. The way this looks for me is I get out a sheet of paper and go to your space to be alone with the Lord, maybe it’s a corner, a closet, etc. I have this little couch in a corner, and it’s my place. I’m like, “I’m coming. I’m just coming to hang out with you”. I got my Bible and my coffee, and I get out this sheet of paper, and I just write:
Because these emotions and feelings that Brooke referred to earlier, those are mirrors into things that you need to handle with the Lord. Maybe you need to do this weekly for a while. It’s okay to have a whole lot of stuff on that piece of paper.
What I do on the next sheet of paper is I write all the blessings that correspond to that emotion. For example, God’s been working on my marriage a lot. He’s working on me in my marriage. So, I sat there, when I did this, a couple weeks ago, at the start of February, and I wrote down all the things I was annoyed with, I’m resentful of this, etc. I wrote all the things on the left side. On the right side, I started to write all the blessings in this marriage, and all the qualities in this man, and all the things that God has done through this marriage and all the ways that he has worked and how I couldn’t even be who I am without him. That went on for four pages. I couldn’t stop writing.
If I hadn’t got those feelings out of my body, onto the paper, God couldn’t have worked to show me the truth. I held on to those four pages, and then God spoke to me four words of how I was supposed to show up in my marriage in a different way. And it was all about me, not him. It was about me. If I hadn’t done that work, I would still be over here mad at the laundry. When God’s like, “look what I gave you, daughter, look at the gift. Don’t look at the small stuff. Don’t look at the little lies of the world telling you that he should, and he shouldn’t. This isn’t about him. It’s about you”.
Brooke: That was good validation for me that I’m on the right track. I have been doing almost all of that on a daily, or like multiple times a week basis.
Stefanie: One of the best things you can do is say, “God, show me how to grow closer to you”, I promise you, he has every answer. He’s just waiting for your ask. Sometimes I’ll just sit and hold the Bible, and then I’ll open it, and see what God wants to say to me through it and finding the things that work and light you up.
Maybe you’re not a Bible study person, you’re a worship person, great, put worship music on and sit in that.
It truly all comes back to trust. And it comes back to surrender and obedience. Proverbs 35:36, “do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to Him, He’ll make your paths straight”. Choose to go on a winding road of hot mess express or choose to go on a straight path with the Lord to the destination that he has already created for you. You are walking by blind faith letting him lead and I promise you, it’s so worth it. It’s worth the hard stuff that comes with it because being on God’s path is going to be harder for you than being on the twisty path of the world.
The outcome is more fruitful; it’s better, bigger, and more amazing. You are going to feel fulfilled and whole. And you’re going to feel so different when you’re walking with him.
Brooke: We covered so many great things! I’m going to just beautifullly wrap this up with:
Number 1: Get quiet with the Lord and surrender your business. If you’re tired of all the stuff you’re going through; tired of feeling like a failure and you recognize that you’re not enough. Go get quiet with the Lord and surrender your business. It’s literally as simple as saying, “Lord, I release my control and I surrender it to you”. It’s something you have to pray over and over and over.
Number 2: Doing the steps that Stef outlined for you; having that quiet time or blaring the worship music or getting into the word finding scripture every day.
The other thing I was gonna say that popped up when you were talking about trust was that trust doesn’t always come first. It’s surrender, have faith, and as you do that each and every day, it will build up your trust.
Want to tune into the Faith-Filled Business Series again? Tune into the Book More Clients Photography Podcast.