by Allen Arnold, @TheStoryofWith
How do you define success as an author?
Perhaps you base it on whether you regularly hit your daily word count. Or maybe success is when the publisher you’ve longed to partner with finally signs your new series. If you’re already published, then success might be hitting a bestseller list or exponentially growing your readership.
God never meant for us to validate our calling by the number of words we churn out or the marketplace performance of our stories. These measurements aren’t necessarily bad, they just aren’t enough. They try to define the internal, holy calling God has given us in external man-made ways. And those measurements can quickly turn toxic when they distract us from the deeper definition of true success.
To get to that definition, we have to go way back. Long before we were born, God knit the love of story into our DNA. Think of it as a sort of homing device. As we grow and pursue our gifting, we are drawn to the Giver of those gifts. Our dreams and desires find their fulfillment in God.
His motive in giving each of us our specific talents isn’t primarily so we’ll be productive or famous. Here’s your gift. Now get busy making things happen. It is so our desires can find their fulfillment in Him. Productivity and efficiency aren’t what He’s most interested in. They measure the external performance but never the internal rhythm of our hearts. God doesn’t need our help as much as He wants our hearts. Whenever we focus more on our gifts than God, we miss the main invitation. Which is to pursue what we most love doing together with Him.
Don’t give the publishing industry, reviews, sales numbers, or even readers the power to validate or invalidate the calling God has given you. When you allow yourself to be defined or validated by outside metrics, you add a measurement to your calling that God neither promises nor is obligated to fulfill.
Don’t complicate it.
If you are actively and intimately creating with God, you are successful.
Yes, there may be more.
Should you grow in your craft? You should.
Could your story take the world by storm and become a bestseller? It could.
Might your story help others see God in a new light and grow closer to Him? It might.
But God isn’t all that concerned about how many readers we have or how many books we sell. If you spend 100,000 words with Him writing a story and no one else ever reads it, is that enough? If not, be careful about the other validation metrics. All external measurements for success cause us to take our cues from someone or something other than God.
Yet God is far more interested in being central to the Story you’re living and the story you’re writing than any reaction to your writing from the world, the industry, or readers.
What is created solely out of your own strength will be limited by your blind spots and weaknesses. But what you co-create with God will have the spark of eternity. Those stories, born through intimacy and co-creation, will transcend you and transform you in ways that are impossible to measure.
That is success. Plain and simple.
“Unique and powerful, The Story of With will take readers deep into the discovery of their own identity. “Bravo! This fascinating blend of storytelling and teaching will shift the thinking of all who take this journey.” New York Times Bestselling Author, TED DEKKER
“Through allegory and invitation, Allen Arnold ushers us into a journey of imagination, insight, wonder, and wisdom…Read The Story of With!” New York Times Bestselling Co-Author of Captivating, STASI ELDREDGE
“This is your invitation into deeper identity, intimacy, and imagination with God. Like finding the place you’ve always longed to be. The moment you finish this book, you’ll race to grab one for a friend. Highest Recommendation!” Bestselling Author of The Long Journey to Jake Palmer, JAMES L. RUBART
“Allen has written a roadmap for dreaming with God. The Story of With is a beautiful, revelatory parable, filled with wonder, mystery, and adventure.” Author of Prone to Love & Untamed, JASON CLARK
– From the Foreword –
“You are not alone. Whether you’re a free spirit, an office exec, a writer, musician, college student, or tired parent—your soul, like mine, knows life is meant to go beyond rat races and rare applause. This book speaks to that belief. And if you’re not careful, you may find tears warming your eyes as you read because finally someone is naming your weariness, your striving, your questions of why you just can’t quite make it, or the emptiness that hit because maybe you did. It is into those places The Story of With reaches—fusing allegory with application—to offer fresh perspective, restored hope, and a rebirth of creativity.”
—From the Foreword by Mary Weber, Christy & Carol Award-Winning, Scholastic Pick Author of the Storm Siren Trilogy.