butterfly half

It all begins with an idea.

Maybe it’s a story, a blog, a song, a ministry, or simply a more productive way to accomplish a task in the office or at home. The idea percolates and begins to take shape⏤this could take minutes, months, or even years. The idea is relentless, clinging to our thoughts like a wet swimsuit. We pray over it, say no to things we’d rather say yes to, and grab every piece of chocolate in sight {okay, maybe that’s just me} in order to bring the idea to fruition.

And then it finally happens. We’re ready to release our work.

This year, I’ve learned a few things about what this means. My first book Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach released in May. My second, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains just released in September. I remember feeling physically ill when I first released the books to my critique group, beta readers, and finally, Amazon.

As I continue this journey, however, I’m learning the value of anchoring certain truths into place through prayer:

butterfly half

Stay focused on the why of the work.

 

Psalm 9:1 says, “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” When we write, sing, counsel, teach, or whatever it is we do for God’s glory, His goodness is shared in a way that only we can tell it. Yes, the same story can be told by the multitudes but it’s how we experience God’s goodness that makes our story⏤the work of our hands and heart⏤unique and personal. If our ride-or-die why is to bring God glory then the missteps and disappointments we face along the way will not steer us off course because it’s not about us, our idea, or our atta-boys. It’s all His.

Father, You know my heart. Search it. Shine Your light to find any underlying motives residing in the nooks and crannies of my mind. If they are not of You, expose them as traitors, betraying my love and excitement for what You’ve put in my heart. Help me to stay focused on the why in order to guard against the voices in my head that will attempt to defeat and discourage me. May Your goodness emerge in everything I say and do.

 

Define success in my own heart before the world defines it for me.

 

Will the book sell more than a handful of copies? How will I react to my first bad review? If one person moves closer to the Lord as a result of reading the book, will that really be enough?

These questions ran through my mind with the same energy as a caffeinated child in a toy store. I knew it was time for a come-to-Jesus moment. There, I spilled all my expectations, desires, and hopes before the throne⏤the good, the bad, and the downright ugly⏤confident that nothing I said would catch Him off guard.

We all want our time, energy, and money to matter so when numbers in the form of books sold, clients or blog visitors don’t add up, the idea can feel like a failure⏤we can feel like a failure. That is unless we defined success for ourselves before the blog was written or the business began, or the story was told.

I personally define success as being obedient to what I feel God calls me to do. One of those things is writing this series of vacation devotional books. So if the books don’t sell as hoped, I may be disappointed, but I will rest in knowing that in God’s eyes, it is a success. When I get my first bad review, I will sob shed a tear, but I will rest. And if just one person moves closer to God as a result of anything I do, I will rejoice and rest in knowing that in God’s eyes, one person is equal to the world.

Father, show me how to measure the success of this idea by Your standards, not mine. Jesus says in John 5:30 that He doesn’t seek to please Himself, only God. Would you mold my desires in a way that mirrors that of Christ? I lay down my expectations, my desires, and dreams in submission to Your plans and purposes. Be glorified!

 

Release the results into God’s hands.

 

Flannery O’ Connor said, “When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God’s business.” (Thank you, Marcia!)

Our responsibility is to work diligently in pursuing what we feel God is calling us to do. That’s the calling. The results of that calling, however, are God’s.

We release our work into the world and the results into God's hands. Click To Tweet

Father, it’s all Yours. The idea, the energy and creativity to do the work, and the bravery required to release it. What You choose to do with my work {for Your glory} is completely up to You. I rejoice in knowing that the definition of true success is being faithful to You, for being always trumps doing.

 

Does one particular truth from today’s post resonate with where you find yourself today?