By Mick Silva
The primary reasons for continuing as long as I have in Christian publishing must be selfish. They are the same reasons I do anything long-term—I like the way it makes me feel.
First, let me say I never intended to stay more than two years at either Focus on the Family or WaterBrook Multnomah. After giving five years apiece in each position, I asked God to work it out to convince my best friend, who’d previously agreed to marry me, that this was a good idea, to take our two young daughters and move from Colorado to Portland in 2010 with no steady job and very little to fall back on.
He did and she did and we did. So there you have it; maybe it was destiny.
I’ll tell you what it wasn’t. It wasn’t my genius or proper living or even prayer. I’ve never been very good at praying. And honestly, the challenge to pursue what “the market” (Christian or otherwise) deemed best never appealed much.
I had a different criteria for my decision to move that, let’s face it, is completely unreasonable. But secondly, reasonably or unreasonably, I believed 10 years was adequate training for launching an editing and writing career on my own.
God affirmed this move in many ways, not the least of which came through amazing friends who supported us. They kept me going, kept me on the rails when I wanted to fly off in rage or forget the higher purpose and go tie one on at Joe’s Tap Heaven.
I’ve been blessed to know editors and authors, readers and writers who aspired to something more than seeking personal fame and fortune. I love that the Christian book industry is about more than personal ambition and charisma, though those attitudes creep in; they’ve definitely taken their toll and still threaten to destroy much of it.
But what we believe about Jesus should make a difference in the way we live. In our professions our faith should inform how we operate and be demonstrated in the way we act in our jobs. We should strive to offer something different to clients—more patience, compassion, grace.
This is why I stay and continue to work with writers of inspirational fiction and memoirs, to live these actions out. Despite all the challenges, God keeps proving He can use broken people and broken systems for greater glory.
I’m like a lot of Christians who fall into that magical thinking that tempts us to believe the lie Jesus was offered in the wilderness: you have a way to take control. I’m NOT in control. My well-being does not depend on how well I do, how I behave, how I choose.
Maybe you’ve thought this too, if you made the ‘right’ choices then you’ll be successful. But when our supposedly right choices don’t make us successful, we can often feel shame and condemnation, the opposite of love. To be blunt, if your life sucks, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself, buddy.
That’s the bondage of legalism, of try-harder Christianity. We need to remember our success or failure isn’t our doing, it’s God’s. As one writer pointed out, this belief is a sort of God-ordained meritocracy, like getting brownie points from God if we do things just right. But it isn’t true. We don’t get happy by doing right. Most of the time we overlook the important fact that struggle and even failure is required for our happiness.
I don’t want to accept that. However, it helps when I EXPECT it, moving forward in the confidence the spirit provides.
People often resist challenges to their sense of security and control (or maybe that’s just me). However, it might be this opposition proves you’re where you need to be, proves you’re making real progress, real success.
Big vision demands that kind of commitment. No promises it’ll always make you happy — there are plenty of safety nets to leave behind. But maybe facing them in the conviction that God’s in control is a better definition of success.
Mick Silva is a former acquisitions editor who spent 10 years in Christian publishing, working with many well-known authors and writers. He is currently self-employed working with writers in all aspects of the process. He blogs at www.micksilva.com and shares his Monday Motivations with hundreds of readers. Mick lives in the Portland area with his wife and two daughters in an old house made of wood and various mosses.