Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How do you define success? by Terry Burns



I’ve published a number of books, but there probably aren’t many of you who have read them. That’s because I’m writing in obedience, and the market God has chosen for me is not large. I’m okay with that.

I became convinced God wanted me to reach out to the male nonbeliever, the person who is reluctant to discuss faith issues, and to plant the little seed that will open the door for someone else to go further. There are planters, then there are the farmers who cultivate and nourish the seed as it grows, and finally there are harvesters who get the wonderful pleasure of helping Jesus reap the crop.

In spite of the fact that I attended a high school with a mascot and name of “The Harvesters,” I seldom get to be in such a role. Those who write Christian fiction are in the business of planting seeds, hopefully to as many as possible. Planters who, like Jesus telling parables, use storytelling skills to make subtle or perhaps not so subtle points that lead someone to begin to question and hopefully to seek answers. Then the farmers and the harvesters take over.

If we are writing under a calling, God has an audience in mind for the work we are producing. Hopefully, He wants us to reach a huge number of people. We would all like the maximum number of people to read our writing. With my book  Mysterious Ways, God obviously knew where He wanted it to go and He saw to it that it went there. As I said, I have no idea how that was accomplished. It wasn’t a large group, but it was where He intended it to go.

We all have to ask ourselves that question: What if the market God has in mind isn’t a large number, what if it is a smaller group?

What if it is only one?

What if that one is us?

Are we still willing to write in obedience if God has a very small audience in mind? I made the commitment long ago to do that. It’s something each of us needs to decide for ourselves.
We have to go through an exercise where we can really come to terms with what we deem to be success for our writing. Do we need the big sales to feel we have achieved success? Do we have to reach a certain group of people to feel that? For a secular writer, if they don’t sell thousands of copies, they aren’t considered a success. How many does a Christian writer have to reach to feel successful?

If I only sold one book and it led to a person finding salvation, it would be enough although I know all of us certainly want to reach out to more.

How do you define success?

9 comments:

Bekah said...

Thank you so much for writing this post. The (seemingly) growing trend to crank out books, to offer deals to the popular (who may not actually have anything developed to say) and to throw a book out of circulation just because it's "old" makes me sad. I feel like the priorities are out of whack on every spectrum.

I'm thankful to see a published author willing to be okay with a smaller audience if it means reaching the God-ordained audience.

This is convicting and challenging for me in my own writing journey, so thank you for posting it.

Diana Flegal said...

I agree Terry, we must do it all as unto Jesus- and yet, so often God's multiplication kicks in and many more are touched. Heaven will reveal the actual result of our obedience.

Linda Glaz said...

God will often inconvenience us in huge ways to touch one life. If a book is what does it, all the better.

Diana Flegal said...

Linda, I wish there were a like tag next to comments so I could have hit LIKE on yours. :-)

Nick K said...

I love your confidence in where God has your writing. I agree God has a role for anything He gives us to write or say. I define success as writing what He has told me to and being content with the audience, trusting His will, not mine. That being said, I often fail.

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