A group of friends paired off into twos and went hunting for the day. That night one of the hunters returned to the campsite alone, staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck.
“Where’s Harry?” the other hunters asked.
“He broke his ankle a couple of miles back up the trail.”
Several of the other hunters jumped to their feet. “You left Harry by the side of the road, and carried the deer back instead?” one of them managed to blurt out.
“Well, sure!” He dropped the deer. “I figured that no one was going to steal Harry!”
There are no more life-shaping decisions than the ones that reveal our priorities. The developement and expression of what’s most important in our lives says a lot about our character. Why did we choose “this” over “that”? This pursuit of priorities takes place in our writing also. Writers are constantly bombarded with the urgent and forced to decided between sitting down to write, taking time to market, answer emails, polish proposals, and on and on the list goes. And that doesn’t even take into account the responsibilities of “real” life–where most normal people live.
But perhaps the most foundational question is this: Why do you write? Is it for fame? Money? Influence? Therapy? Fun? To break the monotony of your existence?
Keep in mind that most writers I know can walk and chew gum at the same time. They may write for a mixture of reasons at the same time. And they may write at certain times because of one pressing priority. We must be careful when we try to judge others. But we must be brutally honest when we evaluate ourselves.
Is God pleased with your priorities? Do you want Him to be?
PLATFORM…it’s a buzzword that gets attention. Depending on the person using it, it can mean having a blog, a Facebook page (or two: a personal page and a fan page), learning to tweet regularly, and a host of other “look-at-me” possibilities. As a writer trying to get noticed so that people will read what I write, all these things seem to be part of the process.
But I’m noticing that building a platform can become one of the biggest “time-suckers” and can leave me with little energy to do anything else.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m on this journey with stubborn commitment I WILL do what is required/expected to stay teachable and focused. I will listen to those who’ve been there and done that. I’m not smarter or more called than those who have gone before me. I have great respect for Christian fiction writers who not only have worked to reach levels of success, but who remain there. It’s not easy!
But in our pursuit to build a platform, may we not forget our number one priority: to follow Jesus in total submission by loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Lets not substitute our platforms for our foundation. Building a platform is great if it’s built on the Rock.
How do YOU keep your priorities straight?
My wife just looked at me, laughter escaping around the hand she’d pressed over her mouth. Seconds before, she’d confessed to me that the brownie I’d just nibbled on had a secret ingredient in it: black beans! I’m not kidding.
Black beans all smushed up and put into brownie mix. That’s just wrong. Some unstable person had put a recipe in a cookbook and claimed that it was a healthier way to make brownies. Why do I think that person tries to convince her family that the tofu she’s shaped into a ham for Christmas is “really good for you.” She needs help. Who thinks of stuff like that? And why?
The ingredients in a recipe may allow for some fudging (pun intended), but the heart of Christian Fiction doesn’t.
Content matters. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can by what’s between the covers. And there’s no substitute for a writer’s heart and soul, especially if that heart and soul are in close fellowship with God. Christian writers are Christians first, writers second. And we must zealously guard that order of priorities so it doesn’t get flip-flopped.
As writers, we are responsible for what we are “feeding” to our readers. True, they may not be able to tell if my heart is right with God when I’m writing a story, but I know. And so does God. And that matters.
Before we claim to write words for God, we need to be sure we are reading the Word of God. The Way, the Truth, and the Life are things we ought to be intimately connected to, so we can share it with others.