Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Influence is to be Stewarded

Influence and impact. Two words that should be on our radar.

As Christian writers, we long to influence others for Christ.

The Bible speaks to the power others have in our lives and we have in theirs.

Our writing is one way we can allow God to use us to bring hope to a hurting world, to spur others on in their walk of faith, and witness to the power of the transformation of the Gospel.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.-Proverbs 27:17

I find that God uses my own writing process and progress as a vital part of my own walk...to teach me, humble me, and show what's in my heart.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. -Proverbs 9:9

I believe God desires us to grow in all facets of our lives. Since we want God to be able to use us, knowing he CHOOSES to even though we have nothing of merit to give Him.

He wants us to make an impact in a world that is full. Stuffed with self. Overflowing with pleasures that don't satisfy. Because he is living water and because we have dipped our tin cup into the well

So I was intrigued by the premise of Michael Hyatt's online webinar series, The Influence and Impact Summit. If you head here you can get a free teaching on Five Stages of Platform Growth.

If you don't know about Michael Hyatt, you certainly should. The former CEO of Thomas Nelson, he is a sought after speaker and writes a highly trafficked blog about growing your platform and using it for good. Platform is a fantastic read!

I didn't have time to listen to all the sessions from Michael Hyatt's Summit but LOVED the advice I found from so much of it. Here are a few highlights for me.

JEN HATMAKER is the author of For the Love and several other Christian nonfiction bestsellers. She will be taking over the Women of Faith organization in 2016 and her family stars on a reality TV show on the Home Garden network.

Hatmaker says, "Influence is not even simply to be enjoyed. Its to be stewarded.”

Love it. We should be making His name famous. Let us not get haughty about numbers, but remember to take seriously our calling.

“You have to care about the audience you’re trying to reach.”

Who is your audience? God has uniquely positioned you to serve a specific group of people. Ask Him to give you a heart for them. I love writing for moms because our struggles and needs are common. Who has God given you a special love for?

Jen wrote her first book in 2004. Why? Because she had something to say. Sometimes, that's enough. She always loved writing but her vision wasn't big enough to think she could make a career of it.

It took Jen one month to figure out what a book proposal was...I'll bet some of us can relate. Then she left her first conference with offers for her book. It was a tiny foothold, but a slip of a door opening nonetheless.

Jen said she wrote a lot of books that no one read. Yet, she claims, it helped her find her voice and practice in a low-stakes environment.

Are we forgetting the power of small? Just as God often grows us in small steps as we walk forth in obedience, a small publishing company or indie publishing could be the way God intends for our writing growth.

Some of my favorite words were: "Humility is the bedrock of the inflection points. Years of humility built through hard work develop a capacity for rejection and instruction."

Hard work. Not the glory moments built her career but the thousands of hours of practice built up over time to write books few people read. To grow her craft word by word, page by page.

Sometimes I think we put in the hard work and then we are shocked when a critique partner might find our pages less than stellar. I love her words about letting humility through the years of hard work helping us to be more receptive.

Receptive to rejection, knowing it is a tool for God's glory to produce growth in us that often doesn't come through the praise of man. Listening to instruction, believing we don't know it all. Ready to learn at the feet of others.

Learning to listen to criticism developed Jen's character.

"Don’t forget readers are real people with real problems, thoughts, passions, etc. Lead with honesty and integrity, humor and goodness."

What do you struggle with? Most likely your readers do, too. If we lead out in a way that is real, we don't have to worry about appealing to readers. We are simply being who God created us as.

Jen also shares that we need to get help. We all have weaknesses. Find those who can help with what you aren't good at. For you that might be writing a synopsis, or managing your social media. You can find help in all of these areas. Perhaps it is worth investing money in an area that is particularly troublesome to you.

She discusses putting a lower priority on our self-preservation. I think we often spend too much time worrying about our reputation, whether its writing our opinion on a controversial subject on social media or giving a less-than-stellar review to another author's book.

I'm not saying there isn't a place for tact, kindness, and love. Some things are best left unsaid, especially in the online world, but we can also err in the other direction. We spend more time on what our mythical audience might think, losing our own authenticity in the process.

Part of leadership Jen shares is letting our skin grow thicker. Being almost embarrassingly transparent. I know in my own life the more open I am with those I love the closer I grow to the Lord and to those he's placed in my path.

We're not in control of the outcome, we can't control what people will say about us. I have seen in my own writing life, even with something as simple as a blog post, the more transparent I am the greater my ability to minister. It takes being honest about the mess my own soul can get in. Knowing that we are not alone and pointing others to the only One who can transform us.

Lastly, for those who feel discouraged by the writing environment you find yourselves in: "There is always room for another one at the table. If you have something to say and excel in your niche, there is room for you. Others will cheer you! Don’t let scarcity rule your mindset."

Don't be afraid. There's room for you and me at the table. Say the words God has put into your heart. Work hard at your craft and grow. Don't worry about others or what the market might think. Write your words as only you can say them.

Julia Reffner lives in central Virginia where she enjoys freelance writing and reviewing. As a reviewer and writer for LIBRARY JOURNAL she enjoys chronicling the trends in Christian fiction. She also blogs for Wonderfully Woven.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Julia, what great thoughts here today! I see humility as a quality that should undergird everything we do. When we have that humble mindset, we will be more receptive, be able to be more transparent, and we'll be able to lead more effectively because we're sensitive to where others are.

You've got me thinking. Thanks for sharing your insights from the webinar!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Jeanne, I highly recommend listening to the recordings and/or podcasts on Michael Hyatt's site if you get a chance. I think they are highly worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...

Here's my favorite part: "The more transparent I am the greater my ability to minister." That is so true! I don't read many devotionals, but I find Lori Hatcher's Hungry for God...Starving for Time absolutely irresistible because she's so real. Vulnerability and transparency are definitely key to making meaningful connections. Great info. Thanks for sharing it here :)