What’s Holding You Back?

David was an unlikely king. He was from a small town and the youngest brother of eight. He was a mere shepherd with no leadership experience. And he had a bad complexion to boot.

If he had been searching for a job, executive search firms would have passed him by. If he wanted to be a celebrity, the judges on American Idol would have sent him packing. If he were a wannabe author, publishers (like me) would have sent him a rejection letter.

Yet God sent the Prophet Samuel to anoint David as the King of Israel. Before the two of them met for the first time, God had to remind Samuel,

Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him [referring to Saul]. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Despite having such a thin resume, David went on to become the most famous king of all time. It is a sobering reminder of the possibility of impossible things. This is often the way God works.

Even St. Paul reminds us,

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:27–29

This was all made new to me this week when Lindsey Nobles, my corporate communications director, sent me a link to the performance of Susan Boyle on “Britains Got Talent.” I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch it. (If you are viewing this via email or RSS, you may have to go to my blog to view the clip.)

Never heard of her? Neither had I. But I’ll bet you won’t soon forget her. I know I won’t.

She is not someone you would ever choose based on her outward appearance and circumstances. Middle-aged, shy, and frumpy, she looks like someone cast as a librarian in a forgettable movie. She is from a small town in Scotland, never been married, the youngest of nine, and cared for her widowed mother until she died two years ago—not exactly someone you would pick out of the crowd to be the next singing sensation.

It just proves once again that it is not about your background, your lack of experience, your age, your platform, or any of a hundred other stories you may have told yourself. The real question is whether or not you believe you have a contribution to make and the courage to confront the cynics.

Question: What about you? What can you learn from Susan’s performance? What’s holding you back?
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  • Scotty

    Love the Susan Boyle story. She was truly blessed with a gift! And the message of your blog IS my biggest hurdle. At 51 yrs old I am still afraid of failure. God has put so much of me back together, but this one area my head knows what's right ( I encourage others all the time!) , but truly down in my own bones, the fear is there.

  • Sean

    Michael, great blog. I have one contention – doesn't the bible state that David was good looking and had a "ruddy" appearance? That doesn't necessarily detract from your main point. but might be a misleading detail in building support for David's unlikely rise to success.

    Appreciate the time you take to blog/tweet/connect outside of your undoubtedly busy job.

  • http://twitter.com/RachelWojo @RachelWojo

    It is amazing to me that you should post this today. I'm working on a Bible study on "Outside the Zone." It's all about what happens when we allow God to use us OUTSIDE of our comfort zones. God definitely gives us certain talents to use for Him, but I believe He LOVES to use those that just simply step up to the plate in full trust the very most.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ericcarroll ericcarroll

    I've been on the other side of this with a lesson I learned from my seven year old son. I posted about it here: http://ericcarroll.org/logs/on-judging-books-and-

    Thank you for writing what you do and making yourself accessible to others. It's a treat to read your blog (I learned about it only three weeks ago).
    My recent post On Judging Books and Children

  • http://www.swanrange.com Carol Buchanan

    King David later wrote, "By my God, I leap a wall." God can help us all over the walls, even of our own building.

  • http://twitter.com/katdish @katdish

    Susan Boyle has talent and courage, but I think if you delved into her history you would probably find that she didn't get there on her own. She was in the right place at the right time. A series of forturnate circumstances aligned that proved beneficial for her success. Not to take anything away from her, and I'm not trying to be cynical, but in order to achieve great success, you have to catch some breaks. Unfair, maybe. But I think that's reality.

    P. S. – Did you know that her cat is following me on twitter? @susanboylescat
    My recent post There's somone I'd like you to meet…

  • Chandra Hester

    Thank you for writing" what's holding you back" It was such a blessing! just what I needed. I had just prayed that God would do something with the dream in my heart, and then I watched Susan's tape. I have prayed for so long for God to do something with the dream in my heart and I was getting to the place where I felt I was not ever going to get there. Now I feel it will take a miracle, and I know God is good with miracles.
    Thank you .
    Chandra Hester

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  • Anonymous

    I think Marianne WIlliamson said it best:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

    • jb


  • Anonymous

    “”Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6, 7

  • Beth McKamy

    I had seen that performance before, but watching it again still brought me to tears. It reminded me of something I read this week. That we should always see people through the eyes of God, and that includes how we see ourselves, our circumstances, and where we are in life. If we do that, there is no fear ! Thanks Michael!

  • http://twitter.com/AlmasiHealth Dr. Miriam Kinai

    It goes to show it is not what people say or what people see or what people think that determines our fate but rather it is what we say and what we think about ourselves and what we see when we stand in front of the mirror.

    We can see from how she confidently marched to her stage and sung that she did not see herself as a washed-outed 48 year old wannabe star. Instead she saw herself as a star regardless of what life had dealt that had kept her from the big stage for all those years. 

  • http://twitter.com/peramarv Marv Quianzon

    very inspiring :)

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

    Great post, but I’m surprised you haven’t heard of Susan Boyle.  She had the #1 Cd a few months ago, and has enjoyed a lot of success since that clip above was first aired.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I actually wrote this post on April 16, 2009. (The date is at the bottom of the post.) Thanks.

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    I did see Susan when she first made her appearance. I find her fascinating, yet felt bad for her with all the media murmuring.
    “Oh she’s got a great voice, but did you see how she….” or “did you know she….”. I felt like they smeared her rather than applauding her.

    But, I guess that’s how it goes…David was hunted by Saul because of jealousy…turned out to be the perfect parallel, huh?

    Thank you for the encouragement, Mr. Hyatt. :)

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    Fear and my past holds me back. This year I am taking steps of faith to return to study, move out of home, write songs, and begin a few musical projects that will stretch me further then I have ever been before. I am great at sabotaging myself. Call it lack of strong role models in my life. Whatever. I can put together a future through the things I have learned through the word and through blogs such as this.

  • Mjmackinnon

    You gotta check out “5 Smooth Stones” by Marc Brisebois.

    It’s an incredible book on leadership that studies

    the relationships in King David’s life…

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Someone else just recommended this book to me too. Guess I have to go get it now! ha.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Sounds like an interesting book. I’m adding it to my Read List.

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