Always set your sights on a larger goal

What is the point of being a writer?

A few years ago I sat with hundreds of other aspiring authors at a major regional writers’ conference and listened to experts such as acquisition editors, agents and published writers. All of us hoped to discover that one thing, that secret, that key that would open the door of authorial success to us.

A turning point for me came when a speaker challenged us. She said, “Your goal should not be to get published. That’s not enough. Your goal should be to live a literary life.” A focus on a literary life will likely produce publishable work, but if we made publication our ultimate goal, we would miss out on much good.

I felt like I was being invited into something much larger than what I had thought my life meant as a writer. I was being called to shift my focus off myself and onto a wide world that I would take the rest of my life to explore. The presenter went on to describe some characteristics of a literary life.

It’s about writing and writing and writing, instead of merely talking about it. It’s about putting your rear end in the chair and sticking with it until the page is full.

It’s about reading the work of other authors, enjoying the content and learning from how the thoughts flow and are expressed.

It’s about attending author book signings, even if they’re not in your genre.

It’s about supporting other authors by paying full price for a book you want.

It’s about honestly celebrating the success of others, rather than envying them as competitors.

It’s about feeling the beauty and power in well-crafted words.

What is the point of being a Christian?

Let me challenge those of us who claim to Christ’s name. Let’s not make it our goal to go to heaven when we die. Let’s make it our goal to live a Christian Life.

The Apostle Paul wrote something like this to the Philippian believers: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Philippians 2:20-21).

So what is a Christian life about?

It’s about following Christ, not merely talking about it (Luke 6:46).

It’s about reflecting on the writings of those who knew Christ (2 Peter 1:16-19).

It’s about participating with others in word and communion, even when you are away from home and no one knows you (Acts 18:9-11).

It’s about investing generously in the work of those through whom you see God’s will being done on earth (Philippians 4:15-18).

It’s about rejoicing with believers who are fruitful in service, knowing that you too will reap a harvest, if you do not give up (1 Corinthians 12:26; Galatians 6:9).

As the Apostle Peter saw his time on earth coming to a close, he wrote a letter to believers. He expressed his happiness in knowing that not even death could separate him from Christ. But his last words focused on the kind of life he had lived and what he wanted for his readers: “Now grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (2 Peter 3:18).

Writing may not be your passion, but living is everyone’s concern. Let’s live out the full life we’ve been given! “I pray that you may come to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

See you on life’s next page!

Russel Jarvis has lived in Hancock County since 1989 and has served as the lead chaplain at Hancock Regional Hospital since August 2003. He enjoys golf, old movies, reading and celebrating life with his wife and children. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.