As you said, Tim, I think the key lies not in the outward goal (being published) but in the inward motivations behind that goal…which is a matter of the heart.
This post reminded me of business researcher Jim Collins, and his wildly popular book from a few years back, Good to Great.
In his research, Collins discovered that the healthiest, most consistently high-performing organizations were led not by charismatic, self-centered, domineering leaders, (“celebrity CEO’s”) but by individuals who were often described as gracious, shy, humble, and self-effacing.
These leaders (Collins refers to them as Level 5 leaders) were focused on the work–the outcome, not on who got credit for it. Collins observed: “They are incredibly ambitious–but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.”
For example, few people have ever heard of Colman Mockler, CEO of the Gillette corporation. “His placid persona hid an inner intensity, a dedication to making anything he touched the best it could possibly be–not just because of what he would get, but because he simply couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.”
Collins gives the formula for a Level 5 leader as such: Compelling Modesty + Unwavering, Ferocious Resolve.
In the context of your post– dedication to being published is laudable if it represents a desire to share the best of our gifts and talents as an offering; An intense drive to glorify God through reaching others with words that challenge and encourage.
On the other hand, being an arrogant, self-infatuated, prima donna who believes his/her own press clippings = bad.
As a lifelong reader, I am always disappointed when I find authors (Christian or General Market) whose self-promotion and marketing skills far outweigh their writing talent.
Ambition, when rightly channeled, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and coupled with humility, is a beautiful thing…because the focus is on the quality of the product, not the ego of the producer.
Great thought Alan. It’s a shame that CEOs of corporations understand this principle more than some Christian writers, artists and church leaders.
You said this so well. I had the pleasure and honor of working for a boss like you described. And I’ve also been impressed by the hype of an author (or movie, etc.) but disappointed by the actual product. Like Tim, I wonder how much better the book would be if some of the creativity behind the advertising was directed toward the writing of the story instead.
Exactly. And I want it right now, too. But I’m waiting on God’s timing. And meanwhile, I’m enjoying the journey.
@google-b11c4755a34747724231345bc0624fe3:disqus The sad thing is, it is easy to quit enjoying the journey when the whole getting published thing starts getting serious. The last six months all but sucked the joy out of it for me as I wrote and rewrote and then jumped through hoops only to have the publisher holding out the hoops decide they aren’t going to sign any more suspense in the near future. We always have to keep reminding ourselves why we do what we do and let that be reward enough in itself.
The apparent contradiction between ambition and rewards versus humility and meekness is a struggle for me to understand, too. I think God absolutely wants me to be ambitious – no sluggards allowed! The problem comes when the motivation that drives me is ME, not others. Even if I truly desire all of those jewels just so the crown I cast at the feet of Jesus is beautiful, isn’t that still prideful? Thanks for some deep thoughts. I’m still thinking about this conundrum.
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