Friday, August 4, 2017

Marching Orders from God

I really like Matt Walsh, I love how he writes and I also agree with a lot of what he says. I liked this advice he shared on his facebook page today:

I get emails pretty often from people looking for advice on how to make a living as writers/editorialists/bloggers/opinion-givers. Here's one I received this morning:
"Dear Matt, I just graduated high school and like you I don't feel that college is the right thing for me. I feel called to engage the culture war in the way that you do, with ideas and arguments. How were you able to do this professionally? Do you have any advice? Sorry to bother you."
Now, I generally caution against pursuing this path. You're not going to make a living writing things on the internet unless you have hundreds of thousands of readers. That takes a lot of time to build, and the vast majority of people will never get there, and even if they do, it could go away at basically any time. The internet is a fickle beast.
I decided to go full time into writing shortly after the twins were born and only weeks after I had my first month with more than a few thousand clicks on my website. That was not a wise decision. It happened to work out, but I can't in good conscience recommend that anyone follow in my footsteps. However there are people who are meant to do this, and if you're in that camp, it will probably necessitate taking a huge risk that will seem insane to everyone around you and could very well backfire. I just can't tell any specific person whether they are meant to take that risk or not.
Here's what I will say, though. And this I think is just a general philosophy for finding success in any career or area of life. These are the two things I tell people, especially young people just out of high school, if they for whatever reason come to me for life advice (and maybe the best piece of life advice I could give is don't come to me for life advice):
1) Pray constantly.
We always have to be asking God whether we're walking the path He intends us to walk. And that path could wind and turn and veer in a million directions, so every day we have to come back and ask again. "Am I still going in the right direction, Lord? Am I still doing this right? Is this still where you want me to be? Is this still what you want me to do? Am I doing this how you want me to do it?" I think we're reluctant to ask these questions either because we don't believe they will be answered, or because we're afraid of what the answer might be.
2) Be undeniable.
If we're confident that we've determined our vocation, the next step is to invest ourselves and hone our abilities to the point where they cannot be denied, even by people who want to deny them. I simply don't believe that there are very many people in America who are truly great at something, have the drive and motivation, want to make it their career, and yet are entirely unable to make a living doing it. If you're not making a living doing a certain thing, it's either because you don't want to, you don't have the drive, or you're just not that good at it. For a lot of people it's some combination of the last two. I know that those last two explain all of my many failures in life.
Look at Tim Tebow. The guy wants to be a professional athlete. He gets cut from several football teams, despite that miraculous first season he had with Denver. They shut him out of the NFL anyway, so he says, "OK, I'll try baseball." Now he's in the Mets' farm system and he's batting close to .300. He's an athlete. He wants to play. He won't be denied. It's that simple.
People get denied mostly because they're deniable. Be undeniable and you'll find success. That doesn't mean fame and riches. Just success in doing whatever it is God has called you to do.
So, I'd say to the kid who sent the email, if you want to be a writer and a culture warrior on the public stage, or you want to do anything else, don't listen to me cautioning you against it. I've been cautioned against literally every good and fruitful decision I've ever made. At a certain point, you just have to consult with God, get your marching orders, and be undeniably great at doing whatever He wants you to do. If you approach it that way, maybe ten years from now I'll be coming to you asking for advice on how to reach the lofty heights you've attained. I just hope you'll have something more useful to say than what I've said here. Good luck.

I liked that last paragraph. You have to consult with God. Corey and I have also been cautioned against the good and fruitful decisions of our life, regarding marriage, children, and career... We just have to know that we are on God's errand and that He is directing us. I recently read this quote from page 3 in the book "Meek and Lowly" by Neal A. Maxwell, where he talked about the need for deep developmental commitment:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that 'the situation of the saints' is such that 'unless they have an actual knowledge that the course they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint."

Corey often says that when he started his business, he wasn't "doing it for the personal growth!" He knows it's been a huge risk and it seems insane. And it's been so hard... he'd probably say that he's had enough growth experiences and he would like to not have to work so hard. But he also has a belief that he's doing what God wants him to do. He is very weary but refuses to faint. He's got to see it though eventhough it's taken a lot longer and been a lot longer than he imagined. The other thing he often says is "I should have gone to medical school... it probably would have been easier!" He is learning about endurance, perseverance, and deep commitment through trials and struggles.
And the same goes for me and raising these beautiful children. It is hard and, yes, it's a lot of kids. Yes, it's very demanding. Yes I have lots of dreams that are on hold right now. But I have an absolute knowledge that this is what God has called me to do, and I glory in this, my joyful burden of discipleship.

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