As we’ve been preparing for the upcoming release of my book, I’ve been doing something I’ve never done before: answering interview questions. My publicist sent me a long list of creative questions that will be used by radio interviewers who know nothing about me or my story.
Let me tell you: authenticity is a harder trick than I ever imagined. The temptation to sparkle is so great and ways to justify it abound. “This is God’s book and His message, so I really need to work hard to make sure people want to read it.” “This story honors Steve, so I really want it to be successful….for him.” A million variations on these themes exist, each one sounding more noble than the next. The current publishing landscape is such that you feel pushed to do it. They say without self-promotion your book is dead on arrival. They say that it doesn’t matter how well you wrote it, if you can’t make it – and yourself – stand out from the stampeding crowd of new authors, you might as well spend your writing time filling out applications at Starbucks, because you’re never going to write books for a living.
It all makes sense. Except for John the Baptist.
No matter how I try to wrangle these new-world concepts together into a right-sounding argument, no matter how much I want to believe that it’s necessary for me to increase in order for Him to increase, John the Baptist (and Elijah and Elisha and Hosea and Habakkuk) simply won’t allow it.
He must increase; I must decrease.
He is at His biggest when I am at my smallest.
A couple of years ago, through a lot of intense conversations with God, I identified this gaping need in my soul to be liked. The result was a paralyzing fear of mistake-making that kept me trapped on the other side of God’s dreams for my life. With His help, I flipped a switch in my life from Being Liked to Living Loved and that is the change that changed everything. It changed my motivation and my response to criticism and my response to compliments. It changed my plans and my words and the way I celebrate the success of others. It really did a number on the Bo I used to be and I like this
new real one so much better.
This dance with increase and decrease has tugged on some old strings of insecurity and has reminded me: I don’t want to go back to living to be liked. I want to lived loved. By Him. By those who know me. And even by me. I am choosing – in the words of Ann Voskamp – to die to all ladders. I am not going to live on the wobbly rungs of Being Liked or Getting Big. There’s too much beauty to be found in the place where He is everything.
So, I am embracing certain parts of the get-the-word-out endeavor. We will have a (very fun!) pre-release party here on the blog. I will answer the questions put to me with honesty and as much authenticity as my little heart can muster. I want many to find help and hope through this book and so I will work to introduce it to the world like I would a good friend. But I will live in the awareness that this little light of mine is…little. And that’s okay.
I hope these raw thoughts from my morning are somehow helpful to you, too (or I just wasted your reading time and that is not good for selling books! Heh.) Maybe you’re not dealing with insecurity caused by a book release but I bet there’s something that tempts you to work extra hard for the approval of another human. It’s exhausting to live in a land where your best foot is always forward. Let’s instead make our homes next to the God who loves both feet.
Looking toward a merry Monday,
P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the need for approval – most especially I wonder if men struggle with this to the same degree that women do. Can someone enlighten me?