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!”
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?