Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beyond "pro just-bono-enough"

Being a freelance writer (with the emphasis on the word "free") is a lot like any other self-employed entrepreneurial gig in terms of balance. Pretty-much half my time is spent chasing down opportunities to work, while the other half is devoted to moving heaven and earth to get the work done.

The current economic climate proves the cliche "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." The Tampa Tribune is still my mainstay, but - any given week - they may or may not run my work. Consequently, it's good to know that a check might float in from three or four other magazines and papers where I'm a regular feature.

Next year, if the leads I have in hand generate a few more commitments, I may well earn more income from speaking, and teaching my books, than actually writing.

My real challenge at the moment is maintaining a high standard...
...As I get busier there's less time to craft each finished product and - sometimes - I've found myself making time-management decisions based on remuneration. I don't like that. About a third of my time is still devoted to projects I do "pro bono" and - as the definition of pro bono is "for the public good" - I'm concerned that the public might be having to settle for pro pretty-bono, pro fairly-bono, or pro just-bono-enough instead of my very best.

Wednesday evening, for example, I led my men's small group with inadequate preparation. Believe me, even when you're teaching your own book you have to take notes, outline the hour, and prepare a plan for the class. But - instead - I waffled. There was some great conversation, we all encouraged one another, and the content was exactly what we needed to be talking about... but it certainly wasn't my best.

One of the things we talked about last night was "Living Kingdom Lives." Living as if we are adopted children of God, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that go along. A big question was/is, "What does that look like?" and "How do we go about living in a kingdom mind-set without worrying about legalism?"

Well, this morning I stumbled on this scripture. Regarding those questions, it's pretty-much can't-miss; a series of too-the-point declarative sentences. Romans 12:9-16 (CEV). It's followed by today's excerpt from "The Unmaking of a Part-time Christian."
  • Be sincere in your love for others.
  • Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good.
  • Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself.
  • Never give up.
  • Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord.
  • Let your hope make you glad.
  • Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.
  • Take care of God's needy people and welcome strangers into your home.
  • Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them.
  • When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad.
  • Be friendly with everyone.
  • Don't be proud and feel that you are smarter than others.
  • Make friends with ordinary people.
Excerpt from "The Unmaking of a Part-time Christian", from Chapter Six: "Check the Manufacturer's Label":

The Tipping Point for Jesus:
Making the decision to become a Jesus follower, years previously at the Billy Graham Crusade in London, was much the same as my realization that the USA was - already - my home. God was already a very real and vital part of my life. I loved God and I knew that God loved me; yet I still felt as though I had a foot in both camps.

A section of the United States Citizenship Oath is instructive when we think about our decision to follow Jesus. It goes like this: “I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

That’s powerful stuff. I can remember the scene in the Federal courthouse like it was yesterday. I stood. I faced the judge. I placed my hand on my heart. The room was crowded with people. In just a few moments I was no longer going to be British (this is the part my mother still refuses to accept in any way shape or form).

I couldn’t in good faith be British anymore; it’s the exact reason why I don’t believe in dual citizenship. “Oh I still use my British passport,” people tell me; “I’m a citizen of both nations.” Well I’m sorry, and I mean no offense, but if you took the oath (excerpted above) and still insist you’re a citizen of another country - then bottom line is you have to be lying to somebody.

It’s the exact same powerful truth that I knew about Jesus when I listened so closely to Billy Graham’s message back when I started this journey. When I made the decision to follow my Savior I understood that it meant I wasn’t merely a visitor any more. I don’t think I’d ever understood so clearly what it means to live as a pilgrim in progress. “The kingdom of God is like this,” Jesus was fond of saying, “and this, and this, and this….”

The kingdom life that Christ taught is a citizenship we must take steps to claim – wherever we are, irrespective of any other membership, privileges notwithstanding. No more part-time Christian but adopted children of God.

- The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian (p 76)

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