Change the world is a tired, over-used phrase. I know that. But you know, we could say the same thing about “I love you” so I’m just going to go with it. These three questions are for anyone who wonders if it might finally be time to do something – write, teach, move, speak, listen, join, or quit. They are questions that help me – but maybe your questions are different. I’d love to hear what they are.
In an interview Jeff Goins did with Seth Godin, he (Seth) said all his books were a result of his being frustrated by something. (By the way, raise your hand if you have ever called them Jeff Godin and Seth Goins – I mean, really. Could their names BE any more similar?)
Seth: “For me, I don’t wake up in the morning saying I need something to write about or I owe the world a book. It’s totally fine with me if I don’t have anything. If I’m gonna name something or if I’m going to bother going the year long trouble of writing a book, it’s because I’m frustrated. The only reason I do any of this is because no one else has done it in a way that I think is going to push an idea forward that I think is worth addressing.”
I’ve thought about this for a while and compared what he says to the way I feel about why I write or explore an idea.
I wrote Grace for the Good Girl and Graceful because I saw myself in the girls in our youth group. Jesus didn’t seem to be an answer to real problems in their lives. He was only an example to follow when they wanted to be good Christians.
This gross distortion of the Gospel broke my heart and made me mad. Are we teaching our students a compartmental salvation? And am I partially to blame for that?
So yes, frustration was the first spark of my motivation.
Being frustrated didn’t make me qualified or ready. But it did wake something up within me, something that compelled me to move, something that made me want to get ready.
The frustration rolled into a compulsion towards change – passion to communicate a message, to move into the chaos of the questions even if I didn’t have all the answers.
But being frustrated about an issue and compelled to do something about it won’t sustain the message for the long-term. For me, what really keeps me moving is the hope of something better.
In my experience, when I am frustrated and passionate without hope, I’m vulnerable to cynicism. If I don’t have hope for change, despair creeps in and I want to give up.
Am I able to peer behind the mysterious curtain of the present and catch a glimpse of what could be?
Am I willing to move into the darkness even though I don’t feel fully qualified or confident or prepared?
These are important questions for me to ask about the work I do. There are plenty of things that frustrate me. But that doesn’t mean I am called to tackle them all. It’s only when I sense all three of these motivations working together that I begin to accept I might need to explore an idea, a thought, or move towards influencing change.
Frustration wakes me up.
Passion gets me moving.
Hope keeps me going.
What about you?
What frustrates you?
What compels you?
What do you most hope for?
Maybe these questions will help you define and refine your goals, your dreams for yourself or for others, and your desire for change.
A quick thanks to you for your kind comments, emails and prayers regarding my last post. John read some of your responses as well and afterwards he looked at me and said, “Wow. A lot of people are in transition.” So here’s to waiting, to believing, and to seeing what’s next.