So I figured some brutal blog honesty was the thing today, since this is my 200th post here.
Michael Hyatt arrived in my inbox the other day with this:
‘I’ve lived just outside Nashville for almost thirty years. It’s been a major center for the music business for decades, but Nashville is now a major hub for mediapreneurs of all stripes.
Publishers, podcasters, bloggers, photographers, authors, agents, designers, marketers, musicians, filmmakers, speakers—you name it, and they’re here. So why aren’t you?’
It got me thinking about why I am where I am.
At the end of 2012, I quit my day job to be more present to my boys, and to turn pro with my writing in the three or four hours I could suck dry while they were at school.
When you switch careers, it makes sense to learn all you can about the new ground you’re amateurishly ploughing. So I researched the radical changes that have flipped the publishing industry. I started following pretty much every big player in the northern hemisphere: the bloggers, writers and speakers who are driving Christian media. They all seem to know each other. And seriously, a bunch of them live in Nashville. They guest-post for each other, tag-team at conferences, tweet in-jokes. Their coolness is intoxicating. I started reading everything they wrote and doing their online courses. Kind of miraculously, I even flew to the States last year and met some of them. I made connections. They made promises.
And I’ve learned a truckload. These incredible leaders, writers and motivators have mentored and encouraged me in ways they’ll never know. I thank God for them, and for their influence and inspiration.
But a girl can get caught up and forget that the Kingdom is not a business model. The God whose thoughts are nothing like our thoughts, whose ways are far beyond anything we can imagine – He doesn’t fit into a formula or a three-step program or the trends of the industry. Sure, He moves His message through cultures using the tools, technologies and key players of the day, and that’s a mercy. But He also works through the unique context, character and calling of lives surrendered to Him. Which means He’ll use you and me too, whether we’re finding our rhythm in trendy Nashville coffee shops or pressing an ear to African dust and hearing a different beat.
A girl can forget that God isn’t calling us to make names for ourselves or get our voices heard above the noise. He’s calling us only to make His Name heard so that others might have hope.
A girl can forget that God will do His thing, no matter how much we scheme. The pros say that before publishing a book, you need to build a platform. No platform, no book deal. I found the whole platform-building thing exhausting, and kind of sleazy. So I asked God to choose the shape of my influence. I had a book in me and I kept showing up to write the next right word. I reminded myself that Jesus never schmoozed. I remembered that, really, a platform is just a thing you stand on, and all I should be standing on is the Rock.
None of the promises made to me on the other side of the world came through. Probably so that I’d never be able to say that it was my work, or my network. God did things His way so I wouldn’t forget that He’s always my only hope.
I kept praying that God would pick my readers, and I published my book – platform or no platform – in November 2014. It took a kind of lockjaw obedience and I was scared. We didn’t have the cash to pay a marketing team. We just threw a launch party. Shared the love on social media. It led to two print runs here in South Africa, a couple hundred sales on Amazon, a commission from Christian Art Publishers for another book, and my blog readership growing from 2,000 to 30,000 in six months. Still, the royalties don’t gush. They trickle. And half of them trickle into classrooms in Olievenhoutbosch. (I haven’t even made enough money to pay tax this year: obscurity for the win!)
So I’m still a very small nobody. You can barely plot me on the same graph as some of the bloggers I follow. Yet even their big numbers are nothing in light of the seven billion people crowding these continents, many of whom have never heard that there’s hope, and His name is Jesus. We need a million more bloggers, preachers and poets, like, yesterday, to shout the truth that we’re all small nobodies on a small planet spinning through stars but that a big God bled for us, and turned us into somebodies. He stoops to cherish us – chooses to use us. Not because He needs us but because it delights and exalts Him.
A couple weeks ago I prayed an anything prayer – saying I’ll do anything God asks me to do even if that means moving to Nashville. And then I find our seven-year-old somebody making a newspaper in the study.
It has news like, my dad went on a hike and my brother had his tonsills out the opiraishin went well. And this: My mom is righting. And the spelling is wrong but it feels kind of right. It reminds me why you and I started doing what we do: using our voices to speak truth, excellence and brave beauty in the brokenness – writing to right the wrongs, right where we are.
So, what if we resisted the urge to be like everyone else? What if we wrote ourselves small in our small corners of the globe instead of trying to write ourselves big in headlines and hashtags? Whether it’s words on page or sound on stage: what if we trusted the God who keeps calling us back to these keyboards, microphones and kitchen sinks? What if we just kept righting the wrongs in slow careful humble weavings of syllables turned to strings of words to bind the wounds of the brokenhearted?
What if we changed the world?
I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. (Revelation 3:8)
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More on some books and free stuff over here.