A Confession and Apology to You…

 
Over the last decade I have written over a quarter million words. I have written on hundreds of topics, some encouraging, some hopeful, some prophetic, some that were very, very difficult or emotional. Hopefully through the years you have known that everything I have written was written only in love; written only in the hope of us becoming the kind of people, together, that God always intended us to be.

That has always been my heart, for better or worse. I know, I have stepped on a few toes along the way, but maybe we are all better for it.

Over the last couple of years I have become incredibly discouraged with writing. Not necessarily discouraged with the content, that has always been fine, but with this terrible question that hung over me like a black, heavy cloud- Why do I waste my time writing when no one is reading or paying attention?

Please don’t try to talk me down from the tree quite yet. I know it is a terrible question and I feel horrible that I have, not only entertained it, but have also begun answering it in ways that suggest I actually believe my words are a waste of time.

That’s why this is a confession.

It’s crazy the paths we travel and how we end up believing so many lies about ourselves. As an aspiring author, the narrative I have continually been fed by the publishing industry is that in order to be published I have to have a growing platform, which means I need tens or hundreds of thousands of people following me and reading what I write. While I always struggled with that perspective, it’s a business, and they want people who will buy books. I get it.

But the message of “your work only matters if thousands of people are reading it” began to unconsciously work it’s way into my head. And that’s a message that completely kills. And it was progressively killing me over the last couple of years.

It’s a message that began to change the motivation for my artistic expression from joy and love… to “how many people are reading me” or “how many people are sharing my stuff” or “how many people are following me.”

It’s a message that’s predicated, not on the idea of whose lives are being influenced, changed, or transformed by my words, but rather the idea of “what am I getting out of my investment?”

It is a wholly capitalistic notion and mindset of expecting to get a return on the investment. And if I am pouring my time, my energy, my heart into writing… then ought I not be getting a huge return?

But this mentality is death. It kills love. It kills joy. It kills creativity. It kills art.

When we begin to believe that the worth or value of what we do is correlated with the number of people who see it, buy it, or end up following us… then we have lost our hearts and the profound joy of expressing it and selflessly sharing it with one person or a million people.

What finally crushed this lie I had believed was a parable.

If you do not identify as “religious,” or as a Christian, keep reading. You will be better for it. I promise. If you are a Christian, keep reading because I am going to flip this parable on it’s head.

There was a parable Jesus shared with a huge crowd. He was discussing a farmer who sowed seeds which fell on various types of ground. Some seeds fell along the path and birds came along and ate them. Some seeds fell in rocky places where they sprang up quickly, but could not take root, so they died. Some seeds fell on shallow soil and the sun easily scorched them. But there were other seeds that fell on good soil, took root, and produced even more than what was sown.

The way we have always understood that parable is that we need to be the type of people whose lives are good soil, ready to receive the seeds of love sown by God, so that they may take root and produce fruit in our lives.

But there are always more perspectives and more messages in parables that are not always readily apparent. And it was this other perspective that obliterated the lie I had believed about my writing.

Rather than trying to figure out what kind of soil I need to be, I realized that I am the farmer who has the good pleasure of freely and liberally sowing the seeds I have been given everywhere I go. It is not my responsibility to worry about where the seeds fall or if they shrivel and die or if they actually take root and begin to grow. My only preoccupation is to wake up each day, grab the bag of seeds, and joyfully sow everywhere I go.

That is where my joy in writing was recently rediscovered and my purpose reignited. Whether it is for the one or for the millions. I just want to write for the joy of it, for the love of it. Let the seeds fall where they may.

Peace and love…

Brandon

13 thoughts on “A Confession and Apology to You…

  1. Hi, Brandon: I’m a fairly long time reader and I also write some. First, you must remember that, no matter where your journey has been or is going, your life, words and actions affect people you will never meet, but who will be blessed by the life you live in serving God.

    We are all given at times to the trap of obsessing over numbers, which do have their place. But we all need to realize that our job is not counting; instead it has more to do with praising, sharing and living a life dedicated to the One who loves us.

    I’ll close by thanking you for using the gifts God has given you to make me think and ponder the things in my life that need attention.

    Danny Burton

    Like

  2. What’s is an awesome post. Just yesterday I was having a conversation with someone about how trying to figure out the end result of what we’re doing interferes with enjoying what we’re doing while we’re doing it. Came to the conclusion that if we’re enjoying doing it we really shouldn’t care that much about what practical purpose it may serve. We weren’t discussing writing we were talking art but I can see how it would apply the same way. Thank you this is a very helpful post.

    Like

  3. Well said. I think the distinction for me is that platform building asks “How may are paying attention? Will I get the numbers I need to do ________?” (What is the ______, really?) What is ANY of it for, if not for the one person in front of us? And THAT is pastoring, which seems to be a huge part of your heart… to care for the ONE. My session at the Festival of Faith & Writing, in MI after I left your house, was on that — using our writing/book tours as pastoring vs. as platform-building. At my first session 4 enthusiastic people showed up. At the second, after hearing how helpful the first was from everyone, only 1 showed up. I was tempted to think I’d done something wrong. Then God said, “Well I’m giving you a chance to see if you actually believe what you said this is about — the ONE vs. the crowd, the audience, the stadium, the platform.

    Well said.

    Keep writing!

    >

    Like

    1. fantastic comment cary! the last four weeks of writing and working on new ventures has been great. i feel as if the dreaded albatross has fallen. i will send you the first chapter of my next written project if you are interested. no commitment to read it… or to even comment on it. i would just like for you to take a look at it. thanks again, brandon

      Like

  4. Thank you for this. After going through a really bad ordeal last year I became introspective and one of the things that happened as a result was that I stopped publishing my devotions. This article has really spoken to me. Well sown.

    Like

  5. Hi Brandon,

    I would imagine many writers struggle with exactly the same thoughts.
    Fortunately, you appear to have found the answer!
    Thanks for dropping by and finding my posting of interest.
    Regards
    John

    Like

  6. I have struggled with thinking the same lies Brandon …as you used to.

    I have struggled re the value of my posts on my 20 odd Social Media sites, plus the millions of words I have written on a variety of topics.

    The majority of these words have been as a teacher of HR subjects, plus my analyses of God’s Scriptures to His Son’s Followers. Much of this is publicly accessible by topic
    search on Google and FREE for copying from my Google Docs and WordPress Blog posts.

    Like you, Brandon, I choose to keep believing that as long as I feel prayerfully led to write whatever I do, I can also prayerfully also leave it to God to bring people to what He wants them to read …regardless of likes or comments I might get to the actual post or article.

    Like

  7. I liked this a lot. I have felt similar, that not enough people are reading what I write. I’ve learned to look at it differently. Only people who want to read it, and care to understand it will read it at the current time. I don’t post what I post to push anything on anyone, and there just aren’t enough people in the world at the current time that have a grasp on all of this to care to read it. The work being done to post it will be important for the future though, when others do start picking up on everything, and hopefully everything being written now will help them. That is the reason I write it now.

    Like

  8. Brandon,
    You liked my post today. So, I decided to check out your blog. By happenstance I selected this article. Glad I did. My profession is not writing. Not my strength. I started writing at the encouragement of others. They witnessed or were the brunt of the anger that had welled up in me with no safe outlet. Man, have I loved this jotting journey. It was a mystery whether or not a single person would ever read much less follow. Now, I’m addicted to watching the minute by minute registering of views and countries. Well, maybe hour by hour. You have given me a poignant reminder ‘views’ are not the real reason I write. My passion hasn’t diminished yet. I’m sure it will with time. I hope your message continues rattle in my brain until I really need it.

    Thanks, Sam

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s