“You throw like a girl!” 

I’m guessing it has been said to you at least once in your lifetime. I’m athletically challenged so the phrase has never really bothered me much. I have no problem admitting I can’t throw a ball or a frisbee to save my life. 

“You play guitar like a girl!” or “You are too emotional and you lead like a girl!” Well, those words hit a lot closer to home for me.

During our worship time a few months ago I shared with the congregation how for much of my life I have been buried under the weight of perfectionism and comparison. It has been a struggle for me, particularly when it comes to measuring up to the opposite sex in both the church and music world. I think I can safely blame some of it on our culture. Our society tells us we have to be more, strive harder, and measure up to some unreachable standard, especially if we are women in a male dominated field. However, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve created a lot of those unrealistic standards and have used them to measure my worth.

I’ll admit it. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time and energy fighting for credibility, hoping the leadership or “someone” will recognize I am not only capable, but gifted to lead as much as my male counterparts. I’m sure I have faced discrimination and unfairness because of my sex, which has often left me exhausted, but I believe the greatest battle has been with the unrealistic expectations I’ve continued to place on myself.

And herein lies the problem.

My need for acceptance created a vacuum of self-doubt, perfectionism, and comparison. I questioned my gifts and abilities all the time. I was waiting for someone to validate my calling when God had already done it. And because I was looking for validation in all the wrong places, I lost myself along the way. 

Several months ago I was at a retreat for worship leaders and songwriters. It was a small intimate retreat hosted by Rita Springer, an artist and worship pastor at Gateway Church. Before the first day was over I was a snotty, crying mess. Through Rita’s honesty and insight, I was confronted with the reality of the brokenness I was living in. Not only were comparison and perfectionism hindering my leadership ability, they were also slowly choking the life out of me. 

I spent the week of the retreat doing a lot of soul-searching. I asked myself the hard questions and shed an embarrassing amount of tears. I realized that in order to become the leader God designed me to be, I had to allow Him to dig out the root of perfectionism and comparison because it was unhealthy and unfruitful. 

It was a pivotal time for me. When I returned home and lead worship something was different. I felt free – free to be 100% me. I began to lead with a new level of boldness and confidence as I discovered how God had designed me to lead as a woman.

Maybe you are like me. Maybe you’ve been striving to be seen, to be heard, and to be accepted. Maybe you are buried beneath the weight of expectations you or someone else has placed upon you. Maybe you are trying so hard to be recognized for the gifts you bring to the table but often feel overshadowed by the men around you.

God didn’t mess up when He created you. 

You are His prized possession. The gifts He has given you are unique. No one has your exact DNA. Regardless of whether your gifts and abilities are recognized by others, you have great value and purpose. 

I love this verse in 1 John 3:18-24a (MSG): “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God!”

Wow, how true. 

Self-criticism, comparison, and perfectionism are debilitating. If left unchecked, they will eventually eclipse your gifts and shut you down. 

Are these things unchecked in your life? Are you striving? Are you leading to your full potential or are things like comparison and perfectionism shutting you down?

I know the struggle and it isn’t easy. But I want to encourage and challenge you to bring what you have to the table. Shake off the lies the enemy is using to hold you back. Allow God into that struggle and let His truth begin to set you free. 

And so what if you play guitar like a girl?? Newsflash: YOU. ARE. A. GIRL. You will approach things differently than men. And it is a wonderful and beautiful thing. Don’t hide your femininity or feel that you are lesser than because of it. It is how God made you and He knew what He was doing.

So play your instrument the way God has designed YOU to play. Sing the way God has designed YOU to sing. Lead worship the way God has designed YOU to lead. 

Do it with boldness and confidence. And rest assured that God is cheering you on from the sidelines.