Thursday, October 3, 2013

Memoirists want to be noticed, right?

Let’s be honest: Memoirists want recognition for not only our struggles and victories, but also for the effort we put into writing and publishing our stories.

Memoirists dream of book signings, TV interviews, newspaper reviews, blog tours, and speaking engagements. We seek affirmation, admiration, and applause.

But if we are serious God-followers, is public acclaim our primary goal?

In her Bible study, Gideon, Priscilla Shirer helps clarify the answer for anyone called to a “spotlight” ministry—not to just writing, but also to music, drama, leading Bible study, teaching, preaching, blogging, speaking, and so many others.

Abraham, the founding father of the Jewish faith and nation, led God’s people to the promised land. He inspires us still today as the father of all who believe and live by faith (Romans 4:11-12, 16; Galatians 3:7, 9, 29).

God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, as countless as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 13:14-17; 22:17-18). God also promised that all nations on earth would be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 18:18).

Simply put, Abraham was a giant among the heroes of faith.

Priscilla points out that before Abraham would see God’s promises fulfilled, before he would become a celebrity in the realms of faith and obedience and leadership, he had to concentrate on something not so much in the spotlight.    

God said He had chosen Abraham to teach his children, family, and household to obey Him, to live the way God desired, to live in ways that are right and fair. “Then,” God said, “then I, the Lord, will do for Abraham what I have promised him” (Genesis 18:19, NIRV; emphasis mine).

In other words, God told Abraham to focus on his own children and household prior to getting involved in the world-changing stuff recorded in history.

Gideon had a similar experience. God told him to save Israel from the seven years of severe oppression they’d endured from the Midianites. God said, “Go! I’m sending you, and I’ll be with you” (Judges 6:14-16).

Gideon probably envisioned himself setting out to save a prominent nation. Maybe he dreamed of getting his name recorded in history books. After all, God called him a “mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). Instead, God told him to start at home.

God told Gideon, like He told Abraham, to focus on his family before getting involved in the world-changing stuff recorded in history. (See Judges 6:25.)

Similarly, Priscilla challenges us to focus on people closest to us and to listen for what God is asking us to do with and for them.

“Choosing to do our primary work in the smaller, less noticeable spheres and devote our best gifts there is often a foreign thought to us,” writes Priscilla.

Our “innermost circles are often the ones that offer the least amount of recognition,” she says. “This is why so many people try to circumvent them.” (Gideon; emphasis mine) 

Ouch. Priscilla nailed it, didn’t she?

She continues, “God had strategically set Gideon in this family, in this tribe, and in this valley for a reason. He fully intended to call and equip Gideon to affect his closest relationships before moving on to something and someone else.”

Isn’t that an affirmation of what Spiritual Memoirs 101 is all about?

“Always remember what you’ve seen God do for you,
and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren!”
Deuteronomy 4:9

My God and King,
… Let each generation tell its children
of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
Psalm 145:1, 4 (NLT)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commands I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them upon your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them to your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV)

God might indeed call you to a prominent ministry in which you’re acclaimed for your memoir.

God might call you to book signings, TV interviews, newspaper reviews, blog tours, and speaking engagements.

Perhaps God is calling you to that larger ministry in the same way He called Abraham and Gideon: to start with those closest to you, to nurture them toward becoming people after God’s own heart.

Priscilla’s charge caught my attention. I need to make changes. I want to cut back on activities (like Facebook) that distract me from what really matters—in this case, compiling God-and-me stories for my kids and grandkids.

From two professional circles I’ve been urged to get involved in Pinterest, but now I wonder if that, too, wouldn’t distract me from focusing on those closest to me. I’m praying for God to lead me.

What about you? 

God has strategically placed you in your family, in your tribe, and in your "valley" for a reason.

Have you pinpointed your most important audience and activities? What changes do you need to make so you can focus on what really matters?


  1. Once again, a sincere and heartfelt thank you for another really touching post. This really struck home with me today. As you know, I've been writing a blog for a couple years, my main purpose in doing this is to give laughter and smiles to those who might need a little joy in their lives as they battle illness or other serious problems.

    A close friend who is very spiritual recently told me that she felt God was using me to bring a message of joy to a world in need of encouragement and that He would be working through me in a bigger way in the near future. The next day I got a call from the cancer center where I go for treatment asking if I would participate in a press conference for Breast Cancer month tomorrow and talk about my blog. Then a reporter from our local paper called and asked if she could interview me separately for a story and I agreed. The first thing she asked was, "How many followers does your blog have? Has it gone viral? Are you making any money from it?" I realized that she had missed the whole point of what I'm doing, she couldn't see it from the spiritual perspective. I tried to explain to her that for some of us money and fame are not so important anymore, what is important is making a difference in the world and leaving a legacy. I hope she got it, I'll know when I see the article next week! And this experience made me re-write my speech for the event tomorrow.

    Of course, the accolades are exciting, but I really think we need to keep that spiritual connection first and foremost in our lives and never forget what's most important.

    But I don't think you need to worry about whether you're "getting" what God wants for you, Linda. I think you're hearing His message loud and clear and doing a great job of passing it on to those of us who need reminders from time to time. :-)

    1. Cathi, what a rich story you shared with us, some about seemingly "everyday" conversations, and others about your message receiving a much larger platform. God is using you and your stories, Cathi. Bless you for sharing them. You --and we all-- know how important that is and how many blessings can come as a result. I hope you'll share a link to the article!

      Blessings, Cathi, as you continue to spread joy and encouragement. :)


  2. Linda, thought provoking and heart moving post. I've always tried and hoped to keep my spiritual connection at the forefront but it isn't always easy in this "build your platform," "connect with social media" world we writers live in today. Thanks for a beautiful reminder.

    1. Sherrey, for a couple of years I did the platform stuff, the marketing stuff, and it does take a lot of time, and much more than just time, as you know so well. As the wise old sage said, "There's a time and a season for everything." You are in that season, I'm in a different season. Both of us are where we are by God's guidance and enabling. No matter which season we're in, we can -- and strive to -- glorify God, celebrate Him, take joy in Him. And you know, Sherrey, more and more I'm concluding that this blog post was mostly a message for myself! More on that soon.


  3. Thank you for this post. I've been realizing that others' affirmation of my writing really does not satisfy. What is satisfying is the journey that God takes me on as I write. There is always some new facet of Him manifested in the workings of my life that I notice or rediscover as I'm writing. That's the real reason I do this because ultimately that is what matters, not the approval of others.

    1. Rachel! Wonderful to hear from you! I've been wondering how you are doing. I resonate with your words: that your writing is a journey God is taking you on, and that He is manifesting Himself to you through the very practice of writing. That's awesome. What a journey you are on--and it's the best kind of journey. :)

      Keep in touch,

  4. Thanks for this wisdom, Linda. I'm at a place in life where I need to focus a bit more time on my kids again than in years past. (Home schooling two high schoolers.) Knowing that I just have two at home for two more years makes it easier to focus, but there are so many things "out there" that I'd rather be doing! Thanks for the reminder to focus the best of our talents in our small circle!

    I agree with you about Pinterest, by the way. Seems like about the last thing I need!

    1. Betsy, I am always so happy to hear from you. You and your lovely blog always inspire.

      You're right, homeschooling two kids who will be home for only two more years does catch one's attention and help clarify where the focus should be. Your "investment" in their lives is priceless, and you are still young, and when you have an empty nest, you can spend more time with stories and messages. Like I said to Sherrey, above, God has given us "seasons" and the older I get, the more I realize I can relax and maximize opportunities within each season, and then move on to the next.

      Having said all this, your ministry in T. and through your blog are real treasures! I'm so glad God brought you into my life!