Guest Post: I Need to Protect Myself from Myself
This article has been looming within my heart for weeks now. What I am about to share with you stems from truthfully months of conversations, prayers, frustrations, victories, hard questions, hard answers, and God’s grace. My trip to SYMC has become the capstone to a lot of these feelings; let me explain…
For reasons that I don’t fully understand, God has put the desire within my heart and the calling on my life to write. This truly does not make much sense to me since English was my worst subject in school and I was completely content being an average youth worker that no one knew or cared about outside of the local church I work at and my own family.
This writing journey started for me about 3 years ago after a long argument with God about why I didn’t want to write; I liked what I was doing in the local church and I wanted nothing, especially my ego, to get in the way of that. I know myself pretty well, and I knew that even mild success could cause me to focus on the wrong things. So if I didn’t ever write then that could never happen.
Here I am three years later with a book that will be out in a month or so, a second book in the edit process, a third book idea in its infant stage, and a blog. Upon giving in to God and me starting to write I told God that this had nothing to do with me wanting to be “Christian famous” or making extra money. It had everything to do with me fulfilling everything He wanted me to do with my life.
James 4:17 (NIV) Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
That commitment has been tested more than once over these past 3 years, and I can tell you that I have not always passed that test. In the weeks leading up to my trip to SYMC God used several key people in my life to show me that I once again, had failed at keeping everything in proper perspective. As I entered into an environment where self-promotion and narcissism run rampant I had only one question on my heart and mind.
Is it even possible to do both and do them well? Can I work in a local church and write/speak on the national scale and not be negatively affected by it all?
As I stepped off the plane in Louisville, after several hours alone with God and my thoughts, that was what I needed God to answer. I was fully prepared (and kind of expected) for God to release me from the national scene and let me go back to Boise, focus on my family and my church, and never write again. You already know (since you are reading this) that is not exactly the answer I received. Through many conversations, classes, speakers, and observations this is what God showed me.
My voice is important
One of the things I had committed to before I went was to not push my blog or writing on anyone. As I purposefully did not bring it up in any conversations I was surprised at how many people asked me about it, and how many of those people told me how much they appreciated what I had to say. I saw that God was using my writing in ways I had no idea about.
My identity and worth belongs only in God
Walt Mueller mentioned a few different times about his findings from his research on social media and how it effects people. I already knew that I had been effected by it, and he just confirmed that it was not in a healthy way. I had said to people many times that social networking is “fake fellowship”, but I had not realized how much I had connected my own identity to online interactions. My self-worth was never supposed to be attached to my blog stats, number of twitter followers, or Facebook interactions but somehow that had become more important to me than the real live people in front of me. In the past two weeks I have not looked at my blog stats at all, limited my time online, and leave my phone on the counter when I get home. It has been very freeing but hard at the same time.
I had put my faith in the wrong places
My intention from the very beginning was to write for God and let him do with it what he wanted. I realized that by me pursuing agents, publishers, and other outlets for my writing I was doing it more for myself than for God. The more I participated in and got beat up by the publishing industry the more it messed with me. I had several conversations with people that had already been published and I realized that my issues might only be magnified if I, like them, did get traditionally published. Since my writing is not helping anyone sitting on my hard drive I am now going to self-publish my books so it is available and let God take care of the marketing and distribution. If my family and friends are the only people that buy my books it does not matter. They are God’s books and He can do whatever he wants with them, and since I will not be tied to a specific publisher or brand I will only answer to God.
God led me to James 3:13-4:17 that day on the airplane which started me down the road of seeing these three very important things.
James 4:1 (NIV) What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
That day I wrote in my journal “the desires that battle within me are to be known and loved in the national spotlight vs. being a local youth pastor, husband, and Dad that doesn’t care about all that. I don’t know if I am capable of doing both Lord. That is the truth, and I don’t want to deny it any longer.”
God showed me that I can’t do both if I do it my way. But if I do fulfill what God has asked me to do, and only that, it is possible. What battles are going on inside of you? What truth do you need to admit to God and to yourself?
James 4:10 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up
Brian is an ordained minister for the Church of God (Anderson, IN). He is the Lead Youth Pastor at Cloverdale Church of God in Boise, ID and has worked with teenagers for over 13 years. He graduated from Northwest Nazarene University with a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry. God has blessed he and his wife Maureen with three boys; Colin, Curtis, and Cameron. Brian loves living in Idaho, especially for all of the outdoor recreation options like wakeboarding, snow skiing, and riding dirt bikes. He also likes Boise State football a bit (ok, more than a bit) and does not believe the blue turf is an un-fair advantage.